Neil’s NFL Daily: April 9, 2013

Neil Hornsby casts a critical eye over the latest NFL news, including veteran signings in New England, Oakland and New Orleans.

| 4 years ago

Neil’s NFL Daily: April 9, 2013

By late afternoon yesterday, with NFL news as sparse as deep passes from Christian Ponder, I was beginning to consider sacrificing what little integrity I had left and hand this column over to speculating about a Tim Tebow trade (or some other random Jet player).

Fortunately, for all concerned, the Patriots, Raiders and Saints all stepped up to the mark with actual signings.


Tuesday, April 9th

Tommy Kelly Signs with the Patriots

One of the questions that keeps flitting through my mind of late is “are the Patriots losing their mojo?”, or perhaps even “when was it exactly that New England lost it?”.

Is this move going to be another in a recent succession of non-draft personnel failures, or something more useful? Since the Patriots cleverly dumped Randy Moss off to the Vikings for a third-round pick in October 2010 (what were you thinking Rick Spielman?) their resume includes giving up a fifth-rounder to Washington for Albert Haynesworth, trading a fifth- and a sixth-rounder to Cincinnati for Chad Ochocinco (still counting $1.5m against the 2013 cap), signing and releasing Jonathan Fanene (counts $2.5m against the 2013 cap) and signing then releasing Brandon Lloyd after only one year (he’s counting $3.5m against the 2013 cap). Frankly, all this is rather minor when compared against the idiocy of some other teams, but with little positive on the other side of the ledger it does start to raise questions.

So what about Kelly? Is he worth a shot? Well, since he signed his first big contract in 2008, through until 2011 he’s been a very effective interior rusher, but a below-average run defender. This plays to the theory he may be better suited outside, but the rumor he has position flexibility has been overstated. In the past five years he’s played 28 snaps as a traditional 4-3 end, 25% of those in the first two games of 2008. However, all that may be irrelevant if last year was anything but a blip. Barring two outings against the Chiefs (where in particular he gave Ryan Lilja two torrid games) he was poor throughout, with the only thing remaining at a high level being his penalty count — he’s had 10 penalties every year since 2010.

I’m sure the cost is low, because it has to be, but unless Kelly’s decline was more related to the Raiders’ general 2012 demeanour than his own this may be just the precursor to another August cut.

Raiders Agree Terms with Mike Jenkins

Three years removed from a superb 2009 season, where he allowed only 49% of balls into his coverage to be completed and quarterbacks had a 60.2 rating when throwing into his coverage, Jenkins found himself surplus to requirements in Dallas and now a likely starting corner for the Raiders.

As good as 2009 was for him, 2010 was enough to obliterate the memory — almost 1,000 yards allowed together with six touchdowns and the quarterback rating when throwing at him doubled (122.6). He was nowhere near that bad again, but in the NFL hotbed that is Texas the damage was done. He clearly has skills, and a new start might be exactly what he needs to regain his confidence and return to the player he was.

Saints Pick Up FS, Jim Leonard

It may seem like a free agency afterthought, but Jim Leonard is an exceptionally sound coverage safety who is the complete antithesis of what New Orleans already has starting at the position. His play stands in stark contrast to the boom or (more usually) bust nature of Michael Jenkins and Roman Harper — last year they combined to miss as many tackles in the passing game as Leonard has missed in the past five years.

Now, this isn’t to say that he’ll be starting anytime soon, but his ability to hold together the back end in dime (and seven DB packages too) could well be very useful. Sensible as I think this move is, two of the better players in that regard for the Saints last year were Isa Abdul-Quddus and Rafael Bush. Whether they get a fair shake of the stick from new DC Rob Ryan, who may well just view them as part of the problem, will be another interesting camp sidebar.


PFF Mailbag

I get questions nearly every day, either directly or on twitter (@PFF_Neil), and I felt this was a good forum to share the answers. Any questions I get that can be better answered without a character restriction I’ll respond to here.

Three and Four Receiver Sets?

Do you happen to have a stat regarding which teams ran the most snaps out of spread/ 3-4 WR sets? Thanks! – @RQUINN619                 

I suspect you may have already known the answer to this given your Bills avatar:


Team rankings by frequency of 3, 4 and 5 receiver formations

RankTeam3 WR4 WR5 WRTotal

 This series started last week, and for those that didn’t catch them here are the first four issues:

Wednesday – Nnamdi Asomugha; a myth? And Carson Palmer’s underlying weakness in 2012

Thursday – Daryl Washington’s suspension, and why the Cardinal’s O-Line may be better than you think

Friday – Why Right Tackle is not the place to be from a salary perspective, and Jason Hanson’s retirement

Monday – 49ers excel in O-Line Cap Management, and things to like about Rolando McClain


Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil


| PFF Founder

Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.

  • [email protected]

    Seems like the good teams are either at the top, or at the bottom. Most of the bad teams are in the middle.

  • John

    Eagles will be no. 1 next year in spread looks

  • Benny Lava

    What’s the definition of a WR regarding the chart?
    A receiver’s primary position, or where he actually lines up for each snap?

    • Neil

      Roster position – so this is based on package not formation