Conventional wisdom argues tackles are good. A defender records a tackle by stopping the progress of the ball carrier, by being involved, by doing his job. Modern analysis argues that it's frequently not good when a corner records a tackle. Tackles are typically the end product of blown coverage. For instance, unanimous best corner in football Nnandi Asomugha has 34 all season. Josh Wilson had ten. On Sunday. All ten were solo tackles. Everything about that sounds bad. He also had a forced fumble, interception and pass defense. One might call his performance uneven. If Wilson were debited for yardage allowed on every tackle, his deductions would rival Seattle's net passing yards: 146 to 153. 14.6 per target and a 90% success rating - that's bad.
From those two schools an interesting and superior synthesis can be created. A tackle is not bad, but is often indicative of blown coverage. It's also indicative of awareness, closing speed, ability to fight off blockers and, of course, ability to tackle. If we provide context for Wilson's ten tackles, the kid doesn't look so bad. He looks quite good. I'm not adding rationalizations, only context. Here's Wilson's list of non-special teams plays that accrued an official stat, and the context of that play. In parentheses is a running tally of the yards allowed that Wilson is directly responsible for.
- First and ten, Josh Wilson's assignment, Larry Fitzgerald, receives for nine. (9)
- Third and one, Wilson's assignment, Fitzgerald, receives for three and the first. (12)
- Arizona attempts an end around, Anquan Boldin holds Wilson. Net lost yards: 10. (2)
- First and ten, Wilson's assignment, Boldin, receives for nine. (11)
- Kelly Jennings' assignment, Boldin, breaks tackles by Jennings and Brian Russell and receives for 45. Wilson tackles. (11)
- First and ten, Wilson's assignment, Fitzgerald, receives for 33. (44)
- First and ten, Jordan Babineaux's assignment, Boldin, receives for nine. Wilson tackles. (44)
- Third and four, Babineaux's assignment, Steve Breaston, receives for six. Wilson tackles. (44)
- First and ten, Wilson is assigned Jerheme Urban, picks Kurt Warner's pass, returns the ball 58 yards. (-14).
- First and ten, Wilson's assignment, Fitzgerald, receives for eight. (-6)
- Third and seven, Wilson's assignment, Fitzgerald, receives for 21. Wilson forces Fitzgerald to fumble. (15)
- First and ten, Boldin is targeted on a wide receiver screen, Fitzgerald attempts to block Wilson, but Wilson squirts under and records the tackle after only 4. (15)
Giving Wilson no credit for stopping an offensive player he was not assigned, something he did four times, and no credit for forcing a fumble that Seattle didn't recover, Wilson's net yards allowed is 15. 15 yards allowed on twelve plays. If you didn't chart it, you didn't see it, but Josh Wilson had a mighty fine afternoon against the best wide receiver corps in the NFL.
Get better soon Pistol.