A few players got the shaft in this week's First Quarter Stock Watch post. One was Minnesota Vikings all-purpose man Percy Harvin, the NFC's special teams player of the month for September, and we circled back on him Wednesday. Another was Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings, who just so happened to be named Thursday as the NFC's defensive player of month.
Sometimes these awards can be influenced by high-profile statistics, and it's true that Jennings leads the NFL with four interceptions. But a further look reveals Jennings has played lights-out in all phases of pass defense during the Bears' 3-1 start.
Our friends at Pro Football Focus (PFF) break down a player's performance into a number of objective and enlightening categories. Based on PFF's work, we can acknowledge the following:
Opponents have made a point to target Jennings rather than Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman by almost a 3:1 ratio. They've thrown to the player Jennings appeared to be covering 33 times this season while targeting Tillman's man 13 times.
Of those 33 passes toward Jennings, 14 have been completed. None went for touchdowns, and the longest completion against him is 26 yards. That 42.4 completion percentage ranks 13th among NFL cornerbacks. Jennings has the four interceptions and has batted down four others.
In all, opposing quarterbacks have a 15.9 passer rating on passes thrown Jennings' way, second only to All-Pro Darrelle Revis (6.3) in the NFL.
What's amazing about Jennings' story is that for part of the offseason, it wasn't clear if the Bears wanted him back. They didn't sign him back until March 13, reportedly after they had dropped out of the bidding for free agent Cortland Finnegan, according to the Chicago Tribune. Eventually, they signed longtime target Kelvin Hayden, and it was fair to wonder if Jennings would be in the picture when the regular season began.
He was, of course, and along the way he has played as well as any player at his position in the NFL.