32 Observations: Starters, Preseason Week 1

32 Observations is back with Nathan Jahnke looking at team tendencies, players that are likely to be starters, and well-known backups.

| 4 years ago

32 Observations: Starters, Preseason Week 1

We have reached the preseason, which means I can no longer wait to start up the ’32 Observations’ series. For any first-time readers, this is one interesting statistical tidbit on each of the 32 NFL teams and I was so excited to bring back the article that there will be two this week.

This edition focuses on either a team tendency, a player that is likely to be a starter, or a well-known backup. Tomorrow will focus more on backups and players you may not have heard of. While it’s not good to make assumptions off of just one game, for the time being this is what we have to work with and could be a sign of things to come.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: In 2012 the Bills ran more than 75 offensive snaps just once (81 in Week 10 at New England). In their first preseason game, they ran 91 offensive snaps.

Miami Dolphins: In 2012, Brandon Gibson averaged 2.25 pass routes from the slot per game, with an average of 0.3 slot catches per game. In the first quarter of his Miami’s second preseason game, Gibson ran eight routes from the slot for one catch.

New England Patriots: In 2012 Chandler Jones had six sacks in his first eight games, and then none the rest of the season. Jones began his bounce-back year with one sack and one hurry on just six pass rushes against the Eagles.

New York Jets: Free Safety Jaiquan Jarrett made a strong case to take one of the safety spots after he allowed just one catch on a third down that was short of the first down marker, and made two additional stops.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had two drops compared to three catches, which led to the second-highest drop rate for tight ends with at least three targets at 40.0%.

Cincinnati Bengals: Defensive Tackle Geno Atkins is already in midseason form. In his eight snaps, he had a pressure in 1.6 seconds as well as a third down tackle for a loss.

Cleveland Browns: An ankle scope for Shawn Lauvao means the right guard spot is Jason Pinkston’s. That might not be a good thing for Cleveland. His -3.9 Run Block rating was tied for the lowest among guards.

Pittsburgh Steelers: On the bright side, Jason Worilds recorded a sack and hurry on his 13 pass rushes. On the not-so-bright side, he was one of five defensive players to be penalized more than once.

AFC South

Houston Texans: After being a very hot and cold rotational right tackle last year, Derek Newton was the best of the Texans’ starters. He was solid in run blocking, had a good screen block, and didn’t allow a pressure or have a penalty in his 15 snaps.

Indianapolis Colts: Although he only played with the starters in three-receiver sets, T.Y. Hilton made a case to be an every-down player after three catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. His competition, Darrius Heyward-Bey, had one target and no catches.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Athlete Denard Robinson had an Elusive Rating of 70.4, which was the third-highest last week.

Tennessee Titans: After playing at defensive tackle last year, the Titans used Karl Klug at both tackle and end in this game. He made the most of his opportunities with two hits, one hurry and two run stops.

AFC West

Denver Broncos: Although Center Ryan Lilja was a backup, it didn’t look like he lost a step. He didn’t allow a pressure, and his +1.4 Run Block rating was second most for all centers.

Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs’ first team defense played only six snaps, and Dontari Poe was in for just four of them. In those snaps he had a run stop as well as a quarterback hurry.

Oakland Raiders: Wide receiver Brice Butler had three snaps with the starters and 24 with the backups. There were 27 completed passes in the league last week of 30 or more yards, and Butler was the recipient of two of them.

San Diego Chargers: In his Chargers debut, Dwight Freeney managed two quarterback hurries on just five pass rushes, which was just as many hurries as the rest of the first team combined.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys’ starting five offensive linemen of Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Doug Free played 16 passing snaps together and didn’t allow any pressure.

New York Giants: Cornerback Corey Webster had a down 2012 year, but against the Steelers he started turning things around. He held Antonio Brown without a catch on two targets, and stopped Emmanuel Sanders short of a first down.

Philadelphia Eagles: Cornerback Bradley Fletcher is slated to be a starter, but in eight coverage plays he allowed three catches for 35 yards all against rookies.

Washington Redskins: Continuing the NFC East cornerback trend, David Amerson might not be a Week 1 starter but he certainly made a case to be one of the starters against the Titans. On the two times he was targeted, he defended one pass and the other went for just 3 yards.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: Defensive tackle Nate Collins looks like he will be a big part of the Bears’ defense after playing in 35 of the 40 first half defensive snaps. He had two tackles for losses against the run within the first 10 minutes of the game.

Detroit Lions: After a breakout year in 2012, Joique Bell continued to fight for playing time in 2013. His 3.27 Yards Per Route Run was the highest for all backs with at least 10 pass routes.

Green Bay Packers: Although rookie Left Tackle David Bakhtiari started the game and didn’t allow a pressure in his 19 pass blocks, his -2.4 Run Block Rating was tied for fifth worst among left tackles.

Minnesota Vikings: Although Fred Evans and Sharrif Floyd only had a combined nine snaps against the run, they had a combined +4.8 run defense rating.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: Osi Umenyiora made an impact in his first game in a Falcons uniform with two pressures and a tackle for no gain. All in the first quarter.

Carolina Panthers: Although Josh Norman was the third cornerback on the depth chart against the Bears, he made a case to join the starters as the only defensive player with two interceptions in the preseason so far.

New Orleans Saints: Wide Receiver Nick Toon made his case to be the third receiver in New Orleans. Quarterbacks have a 118.8 QB rating when throwing to Toon, which was the highest for those with more than 20 pass routes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Linebacker Dekoda Watson made a case to keep his starting job with a tackle for a short gain and another for no gain in his eight run snaps.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: Rookie Tyrann Mathieu lined up 29 times as a slot defender, seven times as a free safety and three times as a strong safety against the Packers.

St. Louis Rams: Although he has the lowest profile, linebacker JoLonn Dunbar had the best day of the Rams defensive starters. He had a tackle for a loss as well as another for a short gain.

San Francisco 49ers: With Patrick Willis out, Michael Wilhoite started and held his own at inside linebacker. He had six stops, which was the second most for all linebackers.

Seattle Seahawks: When the Seahawks starting defense was on the field, they ran 11 plays in a 3-4-4 front, and eight snaps from a 2-4-5. When the backups were in, 64% of snaps came with four men on the defensive line.


Follow Nathan on Twitter: @PFF_NateJahnke

| Director of Analytics

Nathan has been with Pro Football Focus since 2010. He is the Director of Analytics, an NFL analyst, and a fantasy writer.

  • Doc-man

    Love Fred Evans as a run defender!