Neil's NFL Daily: April 3, 2013
In the 24/7, 365 blanket coverage of the NFL, we now have more news than we need but associated knowledge is still in short supply. How many times have you read an article and been no better off than if you’d simply left at the title?
So here’s my plan: give you some real insight into yesterday’s biggest stories. Information that comes from the world’s most comprehensive repository of NFL information – the PFF data banks.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Asomugha Signs with San Francisco
So Nnamdi Asomugha has signed a one-year, $3M deal (including incentives) with the 49ers but the real question is: which version of the cornerback have they got?
The perennial All-Pro RCB from Oakland or the Philadelphia variety who was, both literally and figuratively, all over the place. The supplementary part to that query — is the player from Oakland really a myth based on circumstance and an unwillingness on the part of NFL offensive coordinators to test him with other easier pickings available?
In 2008 through 2010 he led the league in targets per coverage snap by a ridiculous margin; the gap between him and the No. 2 guy was usually more than the NFL average for that stat. However in 2009 a few cracks appeared; when he was targeted the QB rating into his coverage was 98.2 and then in 2010 he gave up six penalties despite only being thrown at 29 times.
There was also the little-discussed question of his position. From 2008 until he left Oakland, Asomugha played 82 percent of his snaps at right corner – the majority of which were in press man coverage. In Philly, in addition to that number dropping to 66 percent, he also had to play much more zone. The result? Last year he had the fifth-worst rating in the NFL with quarterbacks earning a rating of 120.6 into his coverage.
The 49ers current RCB is Tarrell Brown, who despite a couple of shaky games (Week 15 against the Patriots and versus Atlanta in the Conference Championship) was still comfortably their best player in the secondary last year. A rating of 77.7 into his coverage with 14 passes defensed and three interceptions against only one touchdown allowed means that Asomugha’s willingness to take zero guaranteed money this year may easily see him as a late preseason roster cut.
Carson Palmer Under Pressure
As Carson Palmer signed with the Cardinals, much talk turned to how he’d fare behind “that” offensive line (a group which actually may be a lot better than people think in 2013, but that’s a topic for another day). This somewhat begged the question just how bad was he when he was pressured last year? Surprisingly, the answer is, not bad at all; his NFL rating of 72.4 was actually seventh in the league of the 36 passers with over 50 throws under pressure.
Unfortunately it’s his work under no duress which should raise flags. Quarterback’s performing poorly when given time is normally the domain of rookies and Mark Sanchez, but Palmer managed to rank only 26th of 39 quarterbacks with more than 100 unmolested throws. That’s lower than Josh Freeman, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Chad Henne and only a couple of points above Brady Quinn.
I’ll be honest, I thought he’d be better in Oakland than he was and those numbers are a real concern. Sure Larry Fitzgerald will help, but year in, year out the best passers are those who make hay while the sun shines and Palmer absolutely did not do that in 2012.
Alan Branch Joins Bills DT Rotation
Our No. 5-ranked free agent defensive tackle agreed to a $3M contract yesterday with the Bills who are pragmatically moving in the right direction this offseason. At his best (as he was consistently in 2011), Alan Branch is a top quality run defender, but his play slipped last year at just the wrong time to afford him more than a one-year “prove-it” deal. The lowlight was his disastrous display against the 49ers where not only did he fall foul of their vaunted O-Line, but also got beaten when left one on one by fullback, Bruce Miller.
Sen’Derrick Marks to Jacksonville
If all you saw of Sen’Derrick Marks last year was the Week 14 game against Indianapolis — where he pounded on journeyman guard Seth Olsen (among others) — you may be wondering why he’s only now signing a contract with the Jaguars. Unfortunately, that game aside, this was another disappointing season for the 2009 second-rounder who has regularly failed to meet expectations. Jacksonville desperately needs to shore up their defensive interior, but on past evidence this looks like quantity over quality.
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.
Sacks Don’t Add Up
RGIII has been sacked 30 times. However, the Redskins offensive line has only allowed 16 sacks. How is this possible? Am I missing something? – Robert
There are a number of things that come into play here, the first of which is that it’s not just the O-line that allow sacks. Tight Ends, backs and the quarterback himself also have responsibility. If the quarterback hangs onto the ball for five seconds and then takes an 11-yard loss on 1st-and-10, whose fault is that but his? However, adding those sacks in for Washington still only comes to 24 so what about the other six? Well, those are the sacks where it’s not possible to accurately apportion blame; you can guess on a front-side overload blitz it’s probably the QB, but what if the back was supposed to read right to left and instead went left to right? There will always be these non-assigned sacks.
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