Bobby Massie: The Light Goes On?
Every now and then players change who they are overnight. You hear people referring to the light going on for somebody and instantly their improvement is visible. It happened this season for Cardinals rookie right tackle Bobby Massie, after he saw his PFF grades and stats.
As that great article points out, his ranking on PFF hit home in a way being ridden by coaches or heckled by fans couldn’t. He was finally forced to reassess what being an NFL offensive tackle was all about, and he set about fixing things.
Massie was a massively raw prospect coming into the draft and found himself starting this season, forming a disastrous partnership with D’Anthony Batiste as bookends for Arizona over the first half of this season. While Batiste is 30 years old and a journeyman in the NFL, Massie is just a rookie, and needed time to find his feet. That’s why Batiste has eventually been replaced on the left side, the coaches confident that he just had nothing more to give, but Massie was given some patience and time, because they felt he always had it in him.
As it turns out, they might have been right, and from that epiphany his play has improved dramatically. From weeks 1-7 he was allowing pressure on 14.5% of his passing snaps. Since that point he has allowed pressure on just 3.6%, a huge change for the good.
After allowing a dozen sacks over his first seven games he has allowed just one since, and none in his last three games. He has also been clean of penalties over that span.
Nowhere can his improvement be seen more clearly than last week, when the Cardinals faced the Rams for the second time this season. The first time around Massie earned a -4.5 grade for the game, and that was despite run blocking well. He surrendered just a single sack, but let his quarterback hit the deck too and surrendered a massive eight hurries.
All of that pressure bar one hurry came from Chris Long, one of the league’s better pressure artists. The second meeting? Long earned one knockdown and two hurries, just one of which came against Massie, and the big tackle earned a grade of +1.9.
It wasn’t just against Long that he showed his improvement though, as in his past few games only John Abraham has been able to beat him quickly for pressure. Even the heat that he gave up against Long and to Erik Walden in the Green Bay game have taken longer to develop than in the past when his technique and inexperience saw him being beaten almost immediately at times.
His improved play has begun a slow but steady climb up the PFF rankings. At one point only Batiste was ranked below him, but how he has overtaken two other tackles (San Diego’s Michael Harris and Philadelphia’s Demetress Bell), with two more in sight if he has another reasonable game this week.
From a season at the foot of our Pass Blocking Efficiency rankings, the past three weeks has seen Massie ranked in the top 13 each week, and the top ten twice. His score for the season is a PBE of 91.2 but his last three weeks have netted a score of 98.4, 97.5 and 97.2.
It was a very rough first half to his rookie season for Massie, and the damage may be done in terms of overall PFF rankings on the season, but if he can continue this improved play then the Cardinals may just have found their right tackle of the future, and Massie’s 2013 reading of PFF may be far happier.
Let’s just hope he can keep the fire that forced him to make changes and work his way to improvement.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam