Neil's NFL Daily: April 4, 2013
Here’s my second daily analysis of the comings and goings in the NFL. There are not as many ‘big’ stories to address as yesterday, so it gives me a chance to go back to the story of the Cardinals’ O-Line as I promised in the first installment, particularly as there were references made to that group by Carson Palmer during an interview. However, in what seems like something of an Arizona ‘fest’, probably the most important news of the day also involved a Cards player, so let’s start there.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Daryl Washington Suspended Four Games in 2013
Last year’s Second Team All-Pro inside linebacker was the lynchpin of Arizona’s defensive effort in 2012. Playing 98% of snaps (more than any other Cardinal) he is not only one of the best run defenders in the league but also, along with Lawrence Timmons, one of the best two blitzers from his position as well (Washington ranked second in QB disruptions with 23 to the Steeler’s 28).
The Cardinals’ defense calls for two inside linebackers in nearly every package they run, and with Paris Lenon allowed to leave in free agency it now means they face the prospect of playing a quarter of the season without anyone familiar with the scheme. Jasper Brinkley was picked up as a UFA but he’s a two-down player at best (only Rey Maualuga graded lower in coverage), and although back-up Reggie Walker played 200 snaps in 2012, only 30 of those were inside.
Lenon is still available, but as he played so poorly last year it’s no slam dunk he’ll be back. The new coaching staff may well determine our lowest ranked run defender is not that difficult to replace.
Will the Real Cardinals Offensive Line Please Stand Up?
Since we began grading games in 2008 we’ve documented some horrendous performances by offensive lines, but nothing really compares to the display from Arizona’s group during the first half of the 2012 season. From Weeks 1 to 7 they ranked 26th, 15th, 32nd, next to last (in the bye weeks), next to last, next to last, and last in Pass Blocking Efficiency, and saw two quarterbacks knocked out of games.
So without any additions in free agency why do I think this line will improve significantly in 2013? While I’m not putting my mortgage on anything just yet, there are some positive signs, and they begin with the midseason turnaround of right tackle Bobbie Massie. Up to Week 7 he was our lowest graded right tackle by a huge margin, but after he saw his PFF grade he was motivated to step up. Thereafter he was our equal-sixth ranked RT, and he went from allowing 41 QB disruptions in his first seven games to 14 in his last nine. This was eerily reminiscent of the likely starter at left tackle, Levi Brown, who in 2011 went through the first nine weeks as our lowest rated player and looked on his way out of the desert. Somehow he also turned it around and in the last seven games became not only our third-highest rated LT but also won himself a new contract to boot. Unfortunately a torn triceps saw him miss all of 2012, but if this was indeed the light going on then perhaps the Cardinals have two of the better tackles in the NFL. Add to this the decent players they have at center (Lyle Sendlein) and left guard (Daryn Colledge) and maybe, just maybe, this line is better than OK.
Lions Quick to Grab C.J. Mosley
Two days after his release from Jacksonville the Lions pounced on the defensive tackle who was allowed to leave due to his lack of “scheme fit” in Gus Bradley’s new defense. Like Seattle, it appears the Jaguars will not look at certain players regardless of their ability if they don’t match their criteria for the position. This is great news for Detroit, as Mosley was one of the better run defending interior linemen in 2012, without being a total waste as a pass rusher either, and he provides excellent depth at the position.
Mike Patterson to the Giants
It seems like there’s a mini run on free agent DT’s at the moment, what with this move and the prior Lions note. Until last year Patterson was a reasonable all-around starting tackle, with ability to both hold the point and get pressure. He could be relied on for 600 to 700 snaps a year without letting anyone down. Brain surgery then derailed his 2012 season and although he did come back to play 136 relatively uneventful snaps between Weeks 9 and 13, a bout of pneumonia saw his season come to an end. If Patterson can get back to his 2011 form the Giants have found themselves a good rotational player.
John Skelton to Cincinnati
Not satisfied with having one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the NFL in Andy Dalton, whose PFF week-by-week grading chart reads like a healthy electroencephalogram, the Bengals chose to pick up one of the more consistent performers at the position. Unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a good way, as week in, week out John Skelton has proved to be one of the most erratic passers on display. Let’s hope he’s not a sensitive soul or we’ll be getting another broadside from Marvin Lewis imminently.
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.
When the Packers picked up Wynn in the sixth round of the 2009 draft and played him for 72 snaps without the 3-4 end getting a single QB disruption, it was a perhaps a sign of things to come. Season 2010 saw more playing time (around 100 additional snaps on ’09) and some improvement, but after a bright start to 2011 the lack of pressure became the rule and left him jobless after the 2012 training camp. When the Titans picked him up in November they tried him as a 4-3 end but achieved similar results.
All indications are this is a camp body who may make the 53 man roster, but even so fail to deliver on the field.
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