Browns’ Ward listed among PFF’s top 101 players for 2012

ProFootballFocus has recently released their top 101 players of 2012. While the list is not exactly littered with members of the Cleveland Browns, one of the two to be given a mention is strong safety TJ Ward ((Joe Thomas, “gold standard among pass protecting left tackles,” comes in at 34)). Slotted three spots ahead of Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, Ward gets love for being one of the more underrated players in the game.

Playing in Cleveland doesn’t always lend itself to having your performances rewarded with nationwide praise. So while you don’t often hear the name of Ward mentioned among the better safeties in the league, don’t think that’s a reflection on what he did in 2012. A real force in the box, Ward is more than just adequate in coverage, allowing just 12 receptions into his coverage all year.

Best Performance: Week 12 versus Pittsburgh, +3.7

Key Stat: Missed just one tackle for every 17.5 he attempted in 2012. That was the second-best number of all safeties.

Over the last two seasons, perhaps due to injuries coupled with poor team play, Ward has drawn some criticism for his difference-making in the passing game. While the number listed above does not indicate how many times the ball was thrown Ward’s way, it is refreshing to see that he only allowed 12 balls to be caught by his man over the course of the season. The missed tackles number is just a bonus.

[Related: Which Browns veteran is most likely to be replaced?]

(h/t MGBode)

  • mgbode

    The 2 criticisms I see most often associated with Ward from Brown’s fans are that he is terrible in coverage and misses too many tackles. My eyes have told me differently, and I appreciate that the numbers back them up.

  • BenRM

    I always try to tell people that Ward is much better than they realize, but I don’t have much to back it up. I’m likewise glad to see someone has a number on something for me to reference.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    I didn’t hear the missed tackles part much, but certainly heard the coverage one. That said, I was often under the impression that the catches by TEs and RBs that people complained about were not his assignments. Nice to see it backed up.

  • Robbie S

    Ward is one of my favorite players on the team right now. I love his attitude on the field, he’s quitely becoming a force.

  • Garry_Owen

    My only observation: That website’s comments section is in dire need of a Quality Control branch. I believe I’ll push forward my curriculm vitae . . .

  • Aviate

    It’s kind of hilarious how us Clevelanders came up and ran with the narrative that TJ Ward sucks while national people as well as people who study film say he’s one of the best safeties in the league. I even saw that he got an All-Pro vote.

    Everything just HAS to be bad in Cleveland. There MUST be someone to blame.

  • CharlotteBrownsBacker

    How is Ward on this list but not Joe Haden??? Or how about D’Qwell Jackson?

  • mgbode

    DQ is coming off an average year. He was better in 2011. Haden missed 4 games due to suspension. I am not sure if that held him off this list, but I wouldn’t be too surprised. A list of 101 means less than 4 players per team.

  • Natedawg86

    Way less than 4…3.125

  • mgbode

    yep. so, we are only 1.125 players away from being average!

  • steve

    Well there’s a reason he only allowed 12 receptions in his coverage…..it was open season on defensive backs on the other side of the field. They didn’t need to throw in his area.

  • RyInCBus

    Simply because you watch the game, doesn’t mean you understand the game.