Neil’s NFL Daily: June 28, 2013

Neil Hornsby delves into PFF's unique stats to reveal how pro defenses combat the main offensive sets - and then raises a few grievances with the NFL's Top 100 list.

| 3 years ago
NFL-Daily-Feature

Neil’s NFL Daily: June 28, 2013


I’m going to deal with a couple of things today. Firstly, after showing yesterday how defenses coped with Aaron Hernandez and his presence in 12 personnel sets, I thought I’d change tack only slightly and consider how different defensive co-ordinators choose to defend certain packages on first down. After that I’m going to tempt the wrath of my PFF colleagues by once more venturing into the NFL’s Top 100 Players and highlighting some of the worst omissions.

 

Friday, June 28th

Defensive Response

21 Personnel

I could put a table up to initially show how defenses react to “regular” or “21” personnel (two backs, one tight end) on 1st and 10, but it’s not very instructive. It simply tells you what you already know — on 97% of occasions NFL teams employ base defense. The Jaguars were the furthest away from that, using nickel on 14 of 112 occasions, hardly significant.

12 Personnel

As we discussed yesterday, to a large degree, this is a function of which tight ends are employed, but beyond that certain trends are apparent in the following table.

Defensive Response to 12 Personnel

TeamBaseNickel+Total% Base
DET215221799%
WAS219322299%
PHI207521298%
DAL203620997%
SD207721497%
OAK172617897%
CHI189819796%
HST2401125196%
CLV185919495%
IND2621327595%
CAR1881119994%
CIN2231423794%
PIT2331524894%
MIN2121622893%
SEA2311824993%
NYG1871620392%
KC1891720692%
NE2182023892%
JAX2492427391%
BUF2182324190%
*NFL Average90%
SL1882321189%
ARZ2042623089%
BLT2744131587%
DEN1953122686%
TEN1813121285%
TB1803621683%
SF1633619982%
MIA1814222381%
NO1794822779%
ATL1744922378%
NYJ1646322772%
GB1698024968%

Clearly a large percentage of teams are not hugely influenced to move to nickel regardless of the tight ends employed. Given (as we saw yesterday) Detroit is the team to force nickel in 12 the most often, it’s ironic (or maybe instructive) that they are the least likely to put out their nickel package.

At the other end of the scale Green Bay, Atlanta and the New York Jets aren’t big into base anyway and see this as an opportunity to get their better players on the field.

11 Personnel

If the above two sections are a measure of conservatism the next shows commitment to base above and beyond the call. With three wide receivers (even on first down) the NFL average for staying in base is only 11%. However, two teams do buck that trend as can be seen below.

 

Defensive Response to 11 Personnel

TeamBaseNickel+Total% Base
PIT36518741%
IND446911339%
JAX2910713621%
SEA2910913821%
HST3814318121%
DET2310713018%
WAS3215018218%
DAL3014217217%
SF3216519716%
NYJ1910512415%
KC2112514614%
MIA1911413314%
PHI2112915014%
NE2918221114%
ARZ1511813311%
NFL Average11%
CIN2117619711%
SL1412814210%
CHI151461619%
DEN161751918%
MIN141711858%
CLV122092215%
NO101811915%
ATL91671765%
BUF71331405%
OAK81571655%
SD81751834%
TEN71751824%
BLT82152234%
CAR51561613%
GB31611642%
TB31661692%
NYG11401411%

Both Pittsburgh and Indianapolis seem not to mind having a linebacker on a slot receiver, but in this ever more passing league, I assume even they will move over time. One of the trends we’ve seen which appears set to continue is the growth of the nickel corner in preference to the nose tackle or third linebacker, and I’m interest in Seattle in particular next year. With a player of the calibre of Antoine Winfield in the slot just how often will they choose to play base?

The NFL Top 100 Players

I really don’t want to be negative about this — I got as much of a kick out of watching Adrian Peterson’s highlights again as anyone, so I’ll try and couch this in more positive terms.

There were a number of deserving players last year whose performances were simply beyond worthy of a mid-round ranking — they were genuinely excellent and I wanted to take a few minutes to highlight them again.

1. Evan Mathis, G

The best guard in football two years running. In 2012 he never graded negatively in a single game. Tell me he’s a position blocker as much as you want, but for every dominant block you produce from your guard of choice I’ll produce two from Mathis.

2. Muhammad Wilkinson, DL and Antonio Cromartie, CB

Look, I’ve had as much fun with the Jets as anyone but surely the team’s issues can’t force you to overlook two such sensational displays. Wilkerson made 46 stops in the running game (27 more than Haloti Ngata, in 41 less plays) and threw in 37 QB disruptions to boot (one less than Ngata in 15 more plays). As for Cromartie, he only went one-on-one with the opposition’s top receiver all year and allowed a QB rating of 69.7 into his coverage.

3. Eric Weddle, S

The best safety in football did it all — he played deep, he was in the box. He covered, he played the run, he blitzed. We graded him green in every facet of play (the only safety to achieve that distinction), and best of all was his coverage — a QB rating of 54.3 when throwing at him. Apparently that’s not even good enough for the Pro Bowl berth, but only in a league so far out of line with reality it beggars belief.

 

Other editions of Neil’s NFL Daily can be found HERE

 

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.

  • Tommy K

    Remember when Weddle was being drafted and people were talking about him able to play on offense too? I seem to remember he kicked in college too. Maybe just HS…

  • Jake

    Michael Crabtree anyone?

  • Abouthat

    No mention for cam wake? Top ten (if I remember correctly) on your list, but only 89 on the NFL list. Sure sounds like he belongs on that list.

    • Neil Hornsby

      It is true Wake was far too low but (and this is what I should have made clearer) I was really looking at those not even in the top 100. If not then you can also add Geno Atkins to that list.