Neil's NFL Daily: July 9, 2013
Unfortunately, the biggest news in the NFL remains nothing to do with football. On the day Victor Cruz signed a new (and slightly richer) deal with the Giants, reports emerged that Broncos’ Director of Player Personnel, Matt Russell, not content with a single accident under the influence of alcohol, rear-ended a police cruiser too. To misquote Oscar Wilde, “to hit one may be regarded as a misfortune; to hit two looks like carelessness”.
The league’s reaction here will be incredibly interesting, as it appears the Broncos (who have been in full possession of this information since the weekend) are playing a “wait and see what we can get away with” strategy. It’s been an offseason to forget for sure, but hopefully not quite that quickly.
Anyway, let’s crack on with the main order of business — the next two teams up for my grading of the starting line-ups.
For those new to the series and wanting to catch up, you can find the other teams covered to date with this handy set of links.
Charts by team:
Tuesday, July 9th
Houston Texans (Click to enlarge)
— I’ll get my defense in regarding (supposedly) the eighth-best player in football straight away. While Arian Foster is indeed a fine runner, his 2.2 yards/attempt after contact ranks equal 40th of 59 running backs, his 0.6 yards per pass route is second worst in the NFL to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and his pass blocking is among the NFL’s worst.
— Like many thing Pro Bowl-related, Wade Smith’s honor came a couple of years late. He was brilliant in 2010 (and obviously got nothing), terrible in ’11 and average last year.
— The decision to let Mario Williams depart was inevitable, but what once (on someone’s paper at least) looked a formidable linebacker group now seems quite the opposite. From 32 eligible 3-4 OLBs, Reed, Mercilus and Connor Barwin ranked 25th, 26th and 29th in Pass Rushing Productivity. Luckily for the Texans Watt and Antonio Smith ranked first and second for total pressure among 3-4 ends.
Indianapolis Colts (Click to enlarge)
— I know we didn’t rank Andrew Luck very highly last year, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s a fine player and will improve markedly this year. His offensive line was a disaster, meaning he was hit a 33% more frequently than the next player (Sam Bradford), and the offense was an incredibly difficult one to run efficiently. Watch him become a far better quarterback, have a worse record and suffer through the morons asking “what’s wrong with Luck?”.
— The next person to be colour-coded blue for Indianapolis? Not only do I think it will be Dwayne Allen, but I’m fully expecting it to be this year as well.
— One way to attack the Colts this year, push them into nickel (i.e. get Franklin off the field) and run at them. While much has changed, much remains the same and an inability to play the run looks set to continue for at least another year. At least Landry will be put to good use.
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