A game I’ve been playing in my head in recent months is to take an offensive player and find his mirror image on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. For example, Joey Galloway and Darrell Green were stylistically mirror images of each other. Both had amazing speed that sometimes overshadowed their underrated displays of craft at their respective positions over the course of lengthy and productive careers. Now I’m putting it on the blog and having some of my friends play.
When Cian Fahey asked me to contribute a couple of paragraphs about cornerback Patrick Peterson for a collaborative piece he’s writing with the likes of Eric Stoner, Chris Burke, Allen Dumonjic, and Joe Goodberry, I pulled this idea of describing Peterson through the lens Dez Bryant – a player he’s trained to face – and typed it on the page. It got me thinking pairing offensive and defensive players as mirror images would be a fun way to pass the time as my fellow writers and I wait for the car trip of our football writing lives to get to its preseason destination.
I posed the idea to Fahey and Stoner and added Ryan Riddle and Jene Bramel to the mix. There are no grand designs here; we’re just passing time and I’m keeping it a free-form process. If you disagree with the takes, have a take of your own, or want to build on the idea, post a comment or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Patrick Peterson and Dez Bryant
Fear has a variety of forms. There’s the sense of dread that something is about to go wrong, but you can’t see it. Or, an immediate blinding terror where you’re watching events unfold as if you’re not in your body (I hope most of you haven’t experienced it).
And then there’s fear of a more seductive quality. Imagine walking through a field and emerging from the woods is a panther – graceful, powerful, and transfixing. You know you’re five seconds from pissing your pants, but you’re compelled to stand there and admire one of nature’s perfect specimens from a rare (and dangerous) vantage point.
I think a panther emerging from the brush can’t be much different from seeing Peterson or Bryant emerging from the tunnel.
Both players have the grace of a large cat. They seem to possess and innate understanding of how to uncoil in the air and attack the ball. As ball carriers, they’re balls of muscle gliding across the turf. Glancing blows fly off them like sparks exploding off steel.
Put either one on the opposite end of the field of the punter and there’s a chance they make 11 guys look like elementary school kids losing at ‘Gator’.
Just as Bryant has the strength to open the ground game with his blocking, Peterson is a disruptive tackler at the line of scrimmage. The Cardinals cornerback can ruin a receiver’s timing on short timing routes the way the Cowboys receiver makes life miserable if he’s the first to get his hands on a defender.
Where they have to improve is the diagnostic aspects of the game. Their feel for the game is strong, but they’re learning that they cannot lean on this anymore and remain great at the NFL level. When they master the mental side of the game, they’re capable of dominant seasons.
Right now they just dominate games. It’s the difference between fear and terror.