Did Robert McClain regress in 2013?

USA TODAY Sports

Fact: Robert McClain substitutes wildflower extract for butter on his popcorn

Robert McClain was hyped ad nauseum as the best slot corner in the league following the 2012 season. And while most of us expected some regression in 2014, no one anticipated a bottom five yards per coverage snap average.

Now, to be fair, yards per coverage snap isn't the end all be all, but it is an important measuring stick. Let's break this down further.

I know some of you love to hate on anything from Pro Football Focus. But rest assured, most of this isn't about defensive efficiency or other arbitrary, subjective assessment. Most of this is simple division, to be honest.

There were 28 "slot corner backs" who played at least 50 percent of their teams' defensive snaps in 2013. McClain logged 356 defensive snaps, 313 in the slot. He was targeted 1/6.1 of those snaps, 15/28 slot corner backs. He gave up 3 touchdowns defending the slot (the most was 4). As for yards per coverage snap, it was actually worse than what's suggested in the above-linked article. He gave up 1.8 yards per coverage snap, worst among the 28 slot corner backs. He also gave up receptions at a fairly high clip, once every 7.8 coverage snaps, tied for 24/28 slot corner backs.

In short, McClain did regress a bit. He was tested and that had its effect. Miami (week 3) and Washington (week 15) were his worst games, resulting in -1.5 and -1.1 ratings. No bueno.

As for potential areas of improvement, McClain obviously has to limit his yards after catch. He gave up 319 YAC last year, worst among the 28 slot corner backs. I think he could probably afford to be a bit more aggressive, given that he gave up receptions in 40 of his 51 targets. A little more aggressiveness will also allow him more opportunities to intercept passes (he had 0 interceptions last season).

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