Keenan Lewis isn’t the prototypical 2014 NFL cornerback. While Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson have taken to Twitter this offseason to denounce the other in order to declare that they are the best corner in the NFL, Lewis has quietly spent his offseason on Twitter promoting his foundation—The Keenan Lewis Foundation.
Lewis’ foundation—as the Twitter bio says—“is dedicated to empowering and inspiring children and young adults through the promotion of health, education, and athletics.” For more information, check out keenanlewisfoundation.org.
He has tweeted only 149 times from his account total, and the majority of those have been retweets of his foundation.
The only hint of diva on Lewis’ page is on the cover photo which reads, “WELCOME TO AREA28” and then #NOFLYZONE. His main photo is a picture with Saints’ owner Tom Benson.
And his page’s bio says, “The OFFICIAL Twitter page of Keenan Lewis. GOD Fearing man, and Cornerback for the New Orleans Saints!!!”
In an age where we assume we know people based on social media interaction, it’s safe to say that Lewis has given less fodder than most corners. Even if he were the worst guy in the world, he certainly has done a better job of hiding it than most.
The more likely reality is that Lewis is a God-fearing man who prefers to let his play on the field and his work in the community speak for itself.
I’ve said it many times before, but it bears repeating; Lewis is the most underrated corner in the entire NFL. Compare just their 2013 normal metrics and Lewis compares well with Peterson and Sherman.
While Sherman had an unbelievable eight interceptions in 2013, it is well documented by now that his totals are aided by playing mostly zone coverage. It’s no knock on Sherman, but should be considered when deciding just who is the NFL’s No. 1 cornerback.
Peterson meanwhile nabbed three picks, while playing mostly press man-to-man coverage. And Lewis nabbed four passes while playing a multiplicity of different coverages—though probably 50 percent of his snaps were in man-to-man (a very inexact total, and almost impossible to gauge unless you’re getting those totals from the video and corresponding call sheet in the Saints’ facilities).
In terms of passes defensed, Sherman (16) and Peterson (13) outclassed Lewis (9), according to nfl.com. Again, there are a few reasonable justifications for this.
First of all, because Lewis was clearly the best cover guy the Saints had in 2013, he was rarely targeted. Because Sherman and Peterson had better teammates alongside them, opposing quarterbacks were not automatically targeting the “weak link” in the secondary.
Secondly, because Lewis played a ton of man coverage, passes defensed were harder to come by. We saw the contrast in realities play out in Gregg Williams’ defense from 2009 to 2010. In ’09, the Saints played a heavy dose of zone coverages. The result was a myriad of tipped balls and interceptions.
When the coverage schemes became more man-centric in 2010, the interceptions and tipped passes declined. It’s a bit oversimplified to say that the coverage scheme determines the number of passes defensed, but it does play a role.
Lastly, the number of tackles for each was roughly the same, with a range of five from worst to best—Peterson was the low man with 43, Lewis had 47 and Sherman 48, again according to nfl.com. It’s fair to say that all three are willing and able tacklers who are not afraid to play the run.
Advanced metrics show that Lewis is among the elite in the NFL in terms of catches allowed per target, yards per target and yards per snap.
With either a healthy Patrick Robinson or a rejuvenated Champ Bailey patrolling the opposite side of the field in the base defense in 2014, look for Lewis to quietly stake further claim to best corner in the league.
Just don’t expect him to talk about it on Twitter.