Neil's NFL Daily: May 15, 2013
The first of many significant injuries was unfortunately reported yesterday, when San Diego OLB Melvin Ingram tore his ACL during OTAs. While we have some idea how teams will provisionally line up based on what’s been happening during mini-camps, in the back of our mind we know a large proportion of the changes made before the regular season won’t be based on people fighting their way into the line-ups, but on incidents like this. As we’ve looked at some of our unique stats for the first couple of days this week, and focused more on last year, today let’s catch up on some of the more interesting notes from team activities and look forward instead.
Wednesday, May 15th
Chargers’ Melvin Ingram Out for the Year
Last year the Chargers first-round rookie was acclimated to the NFL in the role of a sub-package pass rusher. Only 18% of his plays came when the offense had less than three wide receivers on the field, with a large proportion of these coming in the single game he started. Neither was he asked to drop into coverage very often — his 13 % of pass drops putting him among the Top 5 guys most likely to rush from OLB.
However, as a guy tasked with getting after the QB he did a far more creditable job than many of the “savants”, who simply use sack stats to determine his worth, may think. His two sacks and two hits may look paltry return for 261 attempts to get after the QB, but he also generated 29 hurries which together gave him the eighth-best Pass Rushing Productivity among 3-4 outside ‘backers.
With Jarret Johnson still a fine run defender, but never much of a threat to the quarterback, and Larry English looking very much like another first-round bust, Ingram’s injury leaves the Chargers with a significant problem — how to generate pressure on the opposition passer.
Dwight Freeney visits today and although his relative lack of production following the Colts change to running 3-4 is well documented, much of this neglects some important facts — firstly, his last truly dominant season was 2010 and to some degree he was wearing down regardless, and secondly, he was injured for the early portion of 2012 and when he got his feet back under him he looked fine with 60% of his QB disruptions coming in the last 46% of his pass rush attempts.
Losing Ingram is a significant loss, but replacing him with Freeney should fill a large portion of the hole.
Cardinals Shuffle O-Line
Arizona has started mini-camp with rookie Jonathan Cooper at left guard, which has necessitated Daryn Colledge being shunted across to the right. Although Colledge has played other positions on occasion, most recently taking 26 snaps at left tackle during week 17 last year, the last time he played on the right was in 2008, for the Packers, when he played 37 snaps at right tackle (again in week 17) and eight at right guard. Those eight snaps came in Week 2 when Tony Moll was hurt and he had to slide across from left guard.
Now, Colledge didn’t have a great season in 2012 but compared to the carnage that ensued around him, he may as well have been Carl Nicks — grading marginally negative overall. Clearly this may be a good move and something Colledge volunteered to do, but knowing how much linemen generally hate moving sides, I’m not so sure. Maybe the Cardinals are simply saying you’re the 12th-highest paid guard in the NFL ($5.5m APY) and at that amount of money you better be able to switch over because if not, at a cap value this year of $7.3m, fourth-rounder Earl Watford may be a better idea.
There’s another sidebar to this which may alter things again. Free agent Max Starks visited yesterday and we know how much head coaches love players they used to have (Starks played for Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh) — far better the devil you know and all that malarkey. Now, Starks isn’t quite a disaster waiting to happen but he hasn’t actually played well since 2009, and bringing him in at left tackle could mean another tranche of shifting about. For a guy who ranked only 45th out of 52 in Pass Blocking Efficiency, and was our fourth-worst graded run blocker at the position, that seems like a lot of risk with minimal upside.
I have my first day off of the year and Khaled Elsayed will be writing the NFL Daily in my stead. On Friday, I’m fully expecting a barrage of mail telling me to make this a permanent change — a not insignificant proportion from him.
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