Neil's NFL Daily: June 17, 2013
Firstly, apologies for the lack of an NFL Daily the past few days. With holidays among the PFF team, and myself initially traveling and then picking up a somewhat debilitating back injury (I could say a weightlifting injury to make it sound more manly, but given what I had on the bar that would be extreme hyperbole), things got far too tight. Sorry — I should have seen it coming and given you a warning.
Regardless, I’m back in the saddle now and will do my best to bring you up to speed in typical PFF style.
Monday, June 17th
Tarvaris Jackson Released by the Bills and Resigned by Seahawks
I guess these transactions tell us a couple of things — that after seeing them in OTA’s and minicamp Buffalo is comfortable with both Kevin Kolb and E.J. Manuel, and that Seattle don’t feel similarly about Brady Quinn as the next QB in line to Russell Wilson.
As non-believers in the Kevin Kolb trade to Arizona from Day 1, it may seem strange to some we applauded the decision by Buffalo to grab him when the Cardinals released him in March. Simply put, while being the most pressured QB in the NFL last year (harassed on 42% of drop-backs), he started to show signs of ability, grading positively in three of his six games. In particular, despite being sacked eight times against Miami in Week 4, Kolb helped his team to an OT win and graded +4.2 in doing so. It’s not that we think he’s suddenly going to become an elite passer, but when compared to some other potential starters this year it’s difficult to argue he doesn’t deserve one more shot.
The last time Jackson played for Seattle we graded him as an average starter. He didn’t take a single snap for Buffalo last year so his 6-7 record in 2011 will stand as the best season for extrapolation. However, the truth is you could take whichever season you want and this move would still be a huge upgrade on Brady Quinn, the player who last season somehow managed a QB rating of 3.2 when under duress (and yes, that decimal point is in the correct place). I’ve had difficulty talking as positively as perhaps I should about the Seahawks’ offseason with the specter of Quinn only a single, unfortunate snap away from being called in to replace Wilson, but picking up Jackson at least gives them hope.
The ex-Viking obviously has deficiencies too — he isn’t great under pressure either, but his 40.7 rating is at least believable and when kept clean he is also superior (97.5 vs. 86.6). However, here’s a clue as to what you might see if Jackson does have to step in — blitzes and lots of them. In 2011 only four QBs had a worse differential in PFF grade with extra rushers — Michael Vick, Tim Tebow, Curtis Painter and (then rookie) Christian Ponder.
Victor Butler Likely Out for 2013
The most disappointing news of the week, from my standpoint, was when the Times-Picayune reported UFA Butler had torn his ACL. I for one had been tipping Butler as “one to watch” based on his performances as a backup last year with the Cowboys. He was by far the best fit of all the Saints linebackers for the role of 3-4 OLB as the team moves to a new scheme and was taking first-team snaps across from Will Smith — a person we think will struggle in that position. What Butler brought, which New Orleans badly needed, was an ability to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Of players with more than 150 rushes he ranked =10th in pass rushing productivity with a 9.4 score. To be clear, both Martez Wilson and Junior Galette also did well in that metric (9.7 and 11.6 respectively), but their lack of familiarity with the 3-4, the Saints penchant for staying with sub-optimal players well beyond other teams (e.g. Scott Shanle), and their tardiness in recognizing ability in their own players (e.g. Brian De La Puente, Zach Strief and Chris Ivory) means I didn’t hold out that much hope for them getting the right combination. For me, that would have been Butler and Galette, and now Galette and Wilson. Now, Smith may surprise us but he really hasn’t been an adequate pass rusher since 2010, and he’s never been top-tier since we began grading in 2008.
One Last Minicamp
By my reckoning the only team not now on summer vacation is the Tennessee Titans. They have their final minicamp Tuesday 18th through Thursday 20th and then we have about five weeks until training camps start in late July. As per the last couple of years I’ll be joining Peter King on his tour of NFL camps (my unreserved thanks to him for allowing me to do this) and reporting in the NFL Daily on each location. Details are still to be finalized, but it looks like I’ll be visiting 18 of 32 camps and making a couple of games too.
Other editions of Neil’s NFL Daily can be found HERE
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