Neil's NFL Daily: May 6, 2013
What could have been a weekend filled with “[insert name of player here] wowed everyone with their ability at rookie mini-camp” (in shells and against other rookies), instead saw a couple of pieces of news about offensive linemen which in turn surprised and pleased me. The majority of the mail and questions on Twitter referred to our recent Top 101 players, and we’ll be having a special mailbag later in the week to answer those so please excuse me not dealing with anything you sent on that topic in this article.
Monday, May 6th
Packers’ Offensive Line Reshuffle
As usual, when it comes to the Packers, no one does a better job of providing information than the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, so if you want the background to this story you can find it HERE. Essentially, Mike McCarthy has decided to switch right tackle Bryan Bulaga to left tackle and flip the positions of LG T.J. Lang and RG Josh Sitton. If this were most other teams I’d suspect it had disaster written all over it (and it still may have), but the coaching staff will have given it a lot of thought and without the full rationale it’s difficult to properly assess.
The first thing I would say though is this must have more to it than simply pass protection and trying to get your best players onto your quarterback’s blindside. Steve Palazzolo showed in this article that’s overrated anyway and moving three players away from their regular positions to do so would be, at best, very high risk for marginal reward.
There must be a deeper reason, and of all the speculation the idea that at least makes some sense to me is that of getting better at running left to make Aaron Rodgers more effective on bootlegs to the right.
Currently the Packers are far more effective when running right — they gain a full half yard per run before contact to that side of the field. As a result they also run there more frequently — ignoring the two “A” gaps which can be a little iffy in terms of intended point of attack — they run a full third more plays to the right.
This disparity makes faking the run left and bootlegging right less effective, and in the case of Rodgers perhaps unbelievably so. Rodgers is a quarterback renowned for being able to play under pressure and throw on the run. In my opinion he is the benchmark for playing under pressure by which every other QB should be measured. Last year we graded Rodgers at +13.6 on throws under duress while, in comparison, Peyton Manning scored a -2.5 and Tom Brady -4.7. Additionally, when it came to throwing after a scramble only Tony Romo (98.8) had a better QB rating than Rodgers’ 93.1. All this makes Rodgers’ numbers on designed roll-outs virtually unbelievable. Here is a table showing the worst 10 quarterbacks with more than 10 designed roll-outs.
Ranking QB Dropbacks Att. Com. Yards TD INT QB Rating
24 Andrew Luck 29 24 12 125 1 0 79.3
25 Aaron Rodgers 43 34 15 172 3 1 77.1
26 Robert Griffin III 58 43 21 212 3 1 76.9
27 Joe Flacco 44 41 24 211 0 0 72.3
28 Tony Romo 20 18 9 43 1 1 51.6
29 Jake Locker 38 28 14 129 0 1 48.1
30 Brandon Weeden 27 25 14 159 0 2 41.9
31 Chad Henne 14 12 3 12 0 0 39.6
32 Philip Rivers 11 11 5 80 0 1 32.4
33 Mark Sanchez 23 19 7 90 0 2 12.9
The NFL average is 90, so for a player of Rodgers’ ability to be so low in an area you would fully expect to be very high does ask real questions.
Now, I accept it’s more than a leap to say this is entirely down to running strength. The sample size on Rodgers rolling left is far too small (nine times) to tell us anything, and doesn’t give salient information anyway as it’s not his natural side. However, even if the theory turns out to be hogwash, Rodgers’ numbers are so poor as to be worthwhile listing in their own right.
Tyson Clabo Signs with Miami
With this move the Dolphins covered off one of their two biggest areas of concern, right tackle (with the other being the left tackle position), by signing Tyson Clabo to a one year $3.5m deal. Make no mistake, unless Clabo’s performance falls off a cliff, this is not like the previous move at RT when Miami picked up Marc Colombo in 2011 after a -24.5, league third-worst display for the Cowboys in 2010. Naturally that didn’t go well, particularly as the only good thing you can say about his year was that he didn’t give up a lot of penalties.
Anyway, at this stage of his career, Clabo is still a very good all-around player, who, while not great in any particular facet of play, is good in them all.
Also interesting now that the RT position is filled, is what happens at right guard. My feeling is that if Jonathan Martin stayed at left tackle the Dolphins would kick John Jerry out to RT and have Lance Louis play RG. Injuries aside, this now makes for a straight battle at the position between Jerry and Louis, both of who have a lot to prove, and potentially lose.
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