It is a new season, which means it’s time to bring back the 32 Observations series. For those unfamiliar, each week I find 32 statistics about players or teams — one per team — that I find interesting. This week I’ll take a look at some player that performed well in their first preseason matchup.
Obviously, you can only tell so much from one week of preseason action so it’s not like each of these players will become stars. Still, they are names to keep an eye on. All of these statistics ignore the Hall of Fame game to give everyone the level playing field of one game each.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills already have arguably the best starting four pass rushers, but might also have some unheralded depth in Ikponmwosa Igbinosun. He had two hits and four hurries on his 19 pass rushes, giving him the best Pass Rushing Productivity for a 4-3 defensive end at 23.7.
Miami Dolphins: Two Dolphins linebackers made their case to be starters as they both finished in the Top 4 for 4-3 outside linebacker Run Stop Percentage. Jason Trusnik was the second-best at 33.3, while Jonathan Freeny wasn’t far behind at 25.0.
New England Patriots: When wide receiver Brian Tyms was the target of a pass, his quarterbacks had a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating. He caught five of six passes thrown his way for 119 yards and a touchdown.
New York Jets: Cornerback Dee Milliner was the only starting cornerback to have been targeted more than once, and to have a pass defense on every play he was targeted. He was thrown at twice and defended both passes.
Baltimore Ravens: On the rare times the Ravens decided to pass rush with their inside linebackers, they found a lot of success. Arthur Brown had a hurry on his only pass rush, while C.J. Mosley had a sack and a hurry on his four pressures. They were both in the seven best in terms of Pass Rushing Productivity for inside/middle linebackers at 75.0 and 43.8, respectively.
Cincinnati Bengals: While the Bengals might not keep a true fullback on the roster, undrafted rookie Nikita Whitlock made his case this past weekend. On seven snaps he earned a +1.1 blocking grade which was tied for third most among fullbacks.
Cleveland Browns: After having one stop or fewer in each of his last eight games in 2013, John Hughes had three stops all against the run in just nine run snaps. His 33.3 Run Stop Percentage was second best for 3-4 defensive ends.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Plenty of offensive tackles were able to maintain a perfect Pass Blocking Efficiency last week, but the one to keep it while having the most pass-blocking snaps (31) was Mike Adams.
Houston Texans: Defensive end Julius Warmsley was the only 3-4 defensive end with a +1.0 rating or better in both pass rushing and run defense. He had a hit and hurry rushing the passer, and a stop in the run game.
Indianapolis Colts: Offensive tackle Joe Reitz was tied for the third best grade for offensive tackles in the run game at +1.7. He also didn’t allow a single pressure.
Jacksonville Jaguars: After a strong 2013 season, Sen’Derrick Marks looked ready for a big 2014 as well. In six pass rush snaps, he had one hit and two hurries for a 37.5 Pass Rushing Productivity. That was the best for defensive tackles.
Tennessee Titans: Safety Daimion Stafford led all safeties in stops at four. Three came against the run, giving him a Run Stop Percentage of 23.1 which also led all safeties.
Denver Broncos: Wide receiver Jordan Norwood had a Yards Per Route Run of 5.63 when lining up in the slot which was third best in the league. He was one of just eight wide receivers to score a touchdown from the slot.
Kansas City Chiefs: Running back Cyrus Gray had 51 yards after contact which was second most for all running backs.
Oakland Raiders: Arguably the player of the week was outside linebacker Justin Cole. He was the only 4-3 outside linebacker with three pressures, and was tied for the second most run stops for 4-3 outside linebackers with three.
San Diego Chargers: Yards Per Route Run numbers can get pretty high in a single game, but not often is it as high as Dontrelle Inman’s currently is. He had 107 yards on five routes run for a Yards Per Route Run of 21.4. The next highest for any wide receiver regardless of snaps was 12.4.
Dallas Cowboys: Quarterback Brandon Weeden was perfect when throwing to the outside, going 9-of-9 for 65 yards and a touchdown. He was still decent throwing in the middle, completing 4-of-6 for 42 yards.
New York Giants: Punter Steve Weatherford was in midseason form already. Of his six punts, four were returned and the returners only gained 8 yards. His +3.5 punt rating was second best last week.
Philadelphia Eagles: While the Eagles spent a few late-round picks on defensive linemen, it was undrafted rookie Frances Mays who shined the brightest in their game. In 14 run snaps, Mays was able to accumulate five stops for a high 35.7 Run Stop Percentage. That led all 3-4 defensive ends.
Washington Redskins: The most accurate quarterback of the preseason so far has been Colt McCoy. He completed eight of his nine passes, with his incompletion being a drop, giving him a perfect 100% Accuracy Percentage.
Chicago Bears: Tight end Zach Miller caught all six passes thrown his way. All other tight ends with a perfect catch rate had three or fewer catches. Miller led all tight ends in both catches as well as touchdowns with two.
Detroit Lions: Undrafted rookie Gregory Hickman had a huge first NFL game even if it was just the preseason. As a pass rusher he had both a hit and a hurry, while in the run game he had two stops. His +4.0 overall grade topped all defensive/nose tackles.
Green Bay Packers: While inside linebacker could be considered a position of weakness for the Packers, their inside linebackers played very well this past weekend. Brad Jones led all inside/middle linebackers in Run Stop Percentage at 42.9%. Korey Jones was third at 36.4% and Sam Barrington was tied for fifth at 28.6%.
Minnesota Vikings: One would think that there would be a large tie for the leader in Yards Per Coverage Snap allowed at 0.0 for each defender who didn’t allow a catch. That was not true this past week, as Audie Cole allowed a catch for -1 yard, so he leads all positions in Yards Per Coverage Snap at -0.09.
Atlanta Falcons: Running back Devonta Freeman was the most elusive back for those with more than 10 touches, posting an Elusive Rating of 98.2. He had three players miss tackles on him, and averaged 3.6 yards after contact per carry.
Carolina Panthers: After Ben Hartsock led our tight end rating in run blocking last year, Brandon Williams looks to take his place. His +2.9 run block grade leads all tight ends so far. Unlike Hartsock, Williams was able to catch the ball, collecting 50 yards and a touchdown.
New Orleans Saints: Tight end Josh Hill had four players miss tackles on him on his four catches; the most for any receiver
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The defensive end position has been a weakness in recent years, but their players are trying to turn things around this year. Da’Quan Bowers, William Gholston and Adrian Clayborn were all among the 11 highest of 80 qualifying 4-3 defensive ends in Run Stop Percentage. Bowers was fourth at 25%, Gholston ninth at 18.2%, and Clayborn at 11th at 16.7%.
Arizona Cardinals: While most receivers in a given week have a drop rate of 0.0, wide receiver Brittan Golden was the only player to maintain that perfectly drop-less drop rate while catching at least seven passes.
St. Louis Rams: The preseason isn’t typically the time for deep passes, but Austin Davis had more deep passing attempts than any other quarterback at five. He also had the most deep completions at three, and more deep passing yards at 86.
San Francisco 49ers: Cornerback Chris Cook had a strong start to the preseason. He was one of just two cornerbacks to be targeted three times and not allow a catch and unlike the other, Cook had an interception.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks didn’t use veteran cornerback A.J. Jefferson until late in the third quarter. He was only used on five plays in coverage, but the Broncos targeted him three times. He intercepted one pass, defended another, and the third fell incomplete.
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