Chandon Sullivan: The Best Player You Have Never Heard Ofby Mason Thompson October 16, 2020 0 comments
If you ask analysts who the best team in the NFL is right now, it’s a good bet many would say the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay is 4-0 behind the highest-scoring offense in the league and looks to improve to 5-0 on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The offense has been great behind Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams. The emergence of Robert Tonyan and Allen Lazard has also been a blessing in disguise, as well as the league’s best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus.
Lazard was rewarded following last year’s breakout. He joined the Packers in December of 2018 and wasn’t expected to make the roster, let alone make an impact last year. Instead, Lazard finished the year with 35 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns, cementing himself as the number two receiver behind Adams in the potent Green Bay offense. Though he is currently on injured reserve with an abdominal injury, he made an impression already this year. In the three games he played to start the year, Lazard had 13 catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns. While he has quickly emerged as a fan-favorite, he isn’t the only unknown making an impact for Green Bay this year.
That other player is Chandon Sullivan. Sullivan went undrafted in 2018 out of Georgia State. He was activated during his rookie year for the Eagles and wasn’t used correctly in Jim Schwartz’s defensive scheme. Like so many others, Sullivan has succeeded after leaving the Eagles as Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones have this year. He was signed by the Packers on May 6, 2019. Before the preseason, nobody had Sullivan making the 53-man roster. Throughout the preseason, he continued to make plays, including an interception against Houston. Sullivan made the initial roster and never looked back.
Even with Tramon Williams manning the slot cornerback role in 2019, Sullivan played in all 16 games. He had 30 combined tackles, six passes defended, and an acrobatic interception against the Cowboys. While those stats may not seem incredible, let’s dig deeper. Sullivan played over 350 defensive snaps as well as over 200 special teams snaps. Of the 31 passes thrown at him, he only allowed 11 receptions. He also only allowed a 34.3 percent completion rate and a missed tackle rate of 3.2 percent.
Chandon Sullivan snags his first career INT! pic.twitter.com/Q95AkDKgXt
— GBP Daily (@GBPdaily) October 6, 2019
With Williams a free agent, it was expected that Josh Jackson and Sullivan would battle for the starting slot role. The Packers didn’t draft a defensive back until day three of the draft, where they took Vernon Scott. With Williams still not on the team after the draft, it was Sullivan’s job to lose. Sullivan had gotten the attention of the media and his teammates. Williams was no longer on the squad, so now the job was his. After going undrafted and struggling his rookie year, it was his time to shine.
Though the stats may not say so, Sullivan is off to a great start this year. He has six tackles, two passes defended, and an interception that he returned for a touchdown in Week 2 against Detroit.
— GBP Daily (@GBPdaily) September 20, 2020
What most don’t see is his action away from the play or the pass breakups. He is an avid tackler and isn’t afraid to lay a hit on someone.
Chandon Sullivan was BALLIN' after halftime, oh my goodness. Turned into 2019 Chandon. *stud* pic.twitter.com/xEZoGRB6FG
— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem) September 21, 2020
This is how you tackle Alvin Kamara. Break down, square up, wrap up, and drive with your feet for dear life. Chandon Sullivan defensive MVP back-to-back weeks. pic.twitter.com/aDgqThyRu3
— George Balekji (@GeorgeBalekji) September 28, 2020
While many are quick to look at Brian Gutekunst as a failure following this year’s draft, he was the guy that brought both Lazard and Sullivan aboard as undrafted free agents who had fizzled out with their original teams. Lazard has shown how good he is, and Sullivan is just getting started. Before suffering a concussion in Week 4 against Atlanta, he had played on 69 or more percent of the snaps in all three games. He also was playing around 40 percent of the special team snaps. Sullivan is one, if not the best slot cornerback, according to PFF so far this year. He is only allowing a 54.0 passer rating in coverage, the lowest of the 36 players that have played at least 60 coverage snaps from the slot.
With the offense getting as much attention as it has, the defense has been left to dry. Sullivan isn’t talked about as Jaire Alexander is translating into one of the best cornerbacks in the league and Kevin King is in a contract year. With quarterbacks throwing less and less at Alexander, they can’t rely on making plays over the middle thanks to Sullivan. He will have a big test on Sunday against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. It won’t be a surprise if he picks off Brady, as he is returning from his concussion.
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