PFF Reaction Blog: Week 12
Our analysts have been working around the clock to get the week’s games to you and here’s where you’ll get your first glimpse of the results.
All through the day we’ll be dropping PFF Premium-style nuggets designed to give you information you simply can’t get anywhere else. Naturally you won’t get all of the info you’d get from a Premium subscription, but you’ll still see:
• The highest-graded players from every game – will any make it to the PFF Page of Fame?
• Unique Signature Stats that offer more context than any box score number ever could.
• Snap numbers including routes run, pressured passes, slot coverage, and more.
• Analysis with a PFF twist on all the breaking news.
So bookmark the page and check back every half hour to be in the know.
16.00 – Cowboys at Giants Game Notes
Just as the offense seems to be rounding into some sort of form, the defense drops its worst showing of 2013. It couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for New York with so much riding on the game against their arch foes. The Cowboys D wasn’t much better but they had a somewhat rejuvenated DeMarcus Ware and that was enough.
– The three highest graded players were DeMarcus Ware (+4.4), Terrell Thomas (+3.3) and Kevin Boothe (+3.2).
– The three lowest graded players were Mathias Kiwanuka (-4.6), Jon Beason (-4.4) and Ernie Sims (-3.5).
– Jason Pierre-Paul certainly didn’t back up his pre-match bluster. 21 pass rushes generated not a hint of pressure and his sole positive intervention was a single stop.
– The offensive line’s run blocking was a pleasing positive for the Giants. They opened holes to the tune of 126 yards before contact with the running back breaking only two tackles combined on 31 attempts.
– Given the five dropped passes Tony Romo played one of his better games of the year. That’s 247 yards of drops so far this year, fifth worst in the league.
15.45 – Colts at Cardinals Game Notes
The Colts appear hell-bent on exposing to the entire NFL, (as if they didn’t know already) just how paper thin a roster can be. You lose one of the best wide receivers and tight ends in football and all so quickly your superstar QB looks almost human. Next week it’s the rematch with the suddenly dangerous Titans and the easy walk-in is looking anything but.
– The three highest graded players were Michael Floyd (+5.3), Ricky Jean-Francois (+3.6) and Calais Campbell (+3.2).
– The three lowest graded players were Bradley Sowell (-3.9), Samson Satele (-3.9) and Antoine Bethea (-2.9).
– For a team that wants to run a lot of two tight end sets the Colts are struggling badly in that department. They cobbled together 46 snaps from Weslye Saunders (21), Jack Doyle (11) and Justice Cunningham (14) to play alongside Coby Fleener .
– Due to the Erik Walden suspension, Indianapolis needed first round draftee Bjoern Werner to play the majority of the snaps but he’s clearly not ready. Of his two hurries in 23 rushes one was unblocked while the other came late on a stunt.
– Tyrann Mathieu has been so consistently good in his role as slot corner he is a genuine Pro Bowl candidate but for one thing – he’s down on the ballot as a safety. Less than 30% of his snaps have come in that position plus there are twice as many corner positions in the Pro Bowl as safety. I feel a tactical reassessment from Arizona is in order.
15.15 – Jaguars at Texans Game Notes
Generating 218 net yards, as the Texans did, when your offensive line plays a pretty solid game and you have the best defensive player in football going lights out (yet again) smacks of a team in significant trouble without even knowing the back-story. As for Jacksonville, it’s now two wins out of three with a number of draftees playing much better and David Caldwell’s strategy is starting to take shape.
– The three highest graded players were J.J.Watt (+11.6), Whitney Mercilus (+4.3) and Chris Myers (+3.9).
– The three lowest graded players were Cameron Bradfield (-5.1), Will Rackley (-4.0) and Austin Pasztor (-3.6).
– He can’t possibly win Defensive Player of the Year because that would mean accepting genuinely brilliant players can’t win games single-handedly. So what? J.J.Watt is the best defensive player in football by a mile. Another sack, five hits (making 24 for the year – the next interior player has 11) plus 8 tackles against the run go even further to expose the long-standing fallacy.
– Talk about a law of diminishing returns. Kerry Taylor has now played three times for the Jaguars this year. In week 2 he was in for 23% of snaps and generated 40 yards, last week it was 58% for 20 yards and here 81% for 7.
– Is the game slowing down for John Cyprien? Jacksonville have kept with the courage of their conviction’s about him, rode the storm which was nine negative grades on the bounce and seen his last two games grade positively.
14.30 – Bears at Rams Game Notes
Is it worrying or pleasing to the Rams that by far their best two offensive performances have come with the back-up quarterback at the helm? To be fair I say it’s a lot more to do with getting the running game functioning and it’s therefore a real shame to see Zac Stacy go down. Benny Cunningham did a great job in relief but it’s a lot easier taking over than starting as he’ll probably discover next week.
– The three highest graded players were Robert Quinn (+12.9), Roger Saffold (+4.4) and Kendall Langford (+4.1).
– The three lowest graded players were Jermon Bushrod (-11.1), Jordan Mills (-5.6) and Jon Bostic (-5.0).
– A monster grade for one player often means a terrible one for another and so it worked out. Jermon Bushrod had enjoyed a solid if hardly Pro Bowl type year until he met Robert Quinn. One sack, seven hurries and a penalty later and he had one of the worst grades we’d ever given a tackle.
– Matt Forte did about as good a job as he could with the run blocking he received. All bar 8 of his 77 yards came after contact as he broke six tackles with the fumble being his only transgression.
– Two games starting at right guard and Roger Saffold looks like he was made to play the position. I accept the Bears run defense is hardly a real test but you can only play what’s in front of you and in that regard Saffold did everything right with a perfect game in pass pro and some dominating run blocks.
14.00 – Broncos at Patriots Game Notes
It’s not often the “Game of the Year” is actually better than the hype but so it transpired. It’s been week five now since Peyton Manning has played really well (I mean actually played very well as opposed to churning out stats) while Tom Brady has been brilliant two of the last three weeks. The Broncos are still well set but New England has the momentum and everyone is hoping for a rematch come playoff time.
– The three highest graded players were Von Miller (+11.4), Manny Ramirez (+7.7) and Tom Brady (+4.7).
– The three lowest graded players were Joe Vellano (-5.9), Nate Solder (-4.4) and Chris Jones (-4.0).
– He nearly did it again. Von Miller broke our scale last year with a sensational +12.3 grade against the Patriots but on that occasion it was the right side of the line that suffered. This time it was the left as he played 67 of 87 snaps on the right side of the D and gave Nate Solder the worst beating of his career.
– Rookie Logan Ryan chose a great time to play the best game of his short career. Matched up more often than not with Eric Decker or Wes Welker he allowed only one reception on five targets and knocked a ball down as well as grabbing that crucial interception.
– It’s a measure of dominance when an offense generates running lanes across the entire line. The Broncos “worst” hole was the right side “C” gap which accounted for 25 yards at 4.2 per attempt.
12.45 – Chargers at Chiefs Game Notes
It was one of those games that you felt the team owning the ball last would win – unless of course you got the ball back with 20 seconds that is. So what to make of KC? A busted flush or simply a hiatus on the way to better things? They actually did enough to make you believe the latter, even if that isn’t necessarily this year.
– The three highest graded players were Allen Bailey (+4.3), Eric Berry (+3.6) and Anthony Fasano (+2.3).
– The three lowest graded players were Johnnie Troutman (-4.8), Sean Smith (-3.7) and Marcus Gilchrist (-3.2).
– Sean Smith’s season arch in KC is starting to look remarkably like his last year in Miami. Up until week eight of 2012 he was one of our top rated corners with a +7.7 grade. Then following a poor game against the Colts he seemed to lose confidence and rated a -10.8 over the remaining games. Up until week 6 this year quarterbacks throwing at him had rated a mere 41.3. In the last five games that’s been 122.6.
– Alex Smith can throw deep – it’s just not often he does. Here his three throws over 20 yards in the air netted two receptions for 68 yards and a TD. Only the two Matt’s, Ryan and Schaub, throw deep less frequently than his 6.3% of drop-backs.
– As a receiver out of the backfield only Darren Sproles can match Danny Woodhead’s remarkable productivity. Sproles leads the NFL as a halfback in Yards per Route Run with 2.66 but Woodhead is second with 2.17 and Woodhead has a knack of getting into the end zone with two more touchdowns.
12.00 – Signature Statistics Update
Not all the games are in yet but Josh Gordon’s big day see’s him move into the Top 10 of Yards Per Route Run (YPRR)
11.15 – Vikings at Packers Game Notes
It all felt so unsatisfactory didn’t it? A muted conclusion to a thoroughly fascinating game. That said, I’m already onto the question of what happens when Aaron Rodgers gets back? If the defense can’t make a better fist of it than that, how will even he out-score better offenses than Minnesota’s? Or if his O-Line doesn’t play better how long will he last anyway?
– The three highest graded players were Eddie Lacy (+4.5), Xavier Rhoades (+4.2) and Kevin Williams (+4.1)
– The three lowest graded players were Chad Greenway (-4.5), Marshall Newhouse (-3.6) and Morgan Burnett (-3.4)
– Since Marshall Newhouse’s return to more than just spot duty in week nine the Packers right tackle position has been an area of real weakness. His pass blocking efficiency of 89.3 is third worst in the NFL behind only Jordan Mills of Chicago and Bradley Sowell of Arizona.
– A change of policy for Minnesota? In weeks one to ten Toby Gerhart averaged 18% of offensive snaps and carried the ball four times – total. The last two weeks that’s up to 27% of snaps and he’s had 15 attempts.
– Eddie Lacy forced another eight missed tackles against the Vikings for 41 so far this year. However that’s on the up-tick as its 25 in the last for weeks alone.
10.30 – Buccaneers at Lions Game Notes
In a game their defense did everything to win while their offense did everything to lose, the Detroit O finally “won” out following two of the more bizarre fumbles you’ll ever see. Ok so technically the Calvin Johnson one which ended the game was an interception but the Kris Durham side-line job was a strictly Barnum & Bailey affair where giving the ball away appeared more difficult than not.
– The three highest graded players were Gerald McCoy (+8.8), Nick Fairley (+4.1) and Ndamukong Suh (+3.7)
– The three lowest graded players were Jamon Meredith (-6.7), Davin Joseph (-4.2) and Rob Sims (-3.0)
– The second and third selections of the 2010 draft will be forever compared and while Ndamukong Suh played very well (as did the rest of his DL colleagues) Gerald McCoy was a one-man wrecking ball on an otherwise poor defensive line. While the media may be put off by the Buccaneers overall record McCoy is a legitimate DPOY contender. His eight hurries were half the defenses total output as he played all bar two snaps.
– After his coming out party last week the Lions were determined not to let Bobby Rainey beat them. He did about as well as he could forcing two missed tackles and gaining 36 yards post contact but the support he got from his blocking meant that amounted to 35 yards on 18 carries.
– Given how much pressure he was under consider this game as another real success for Mike Glennon. He was pressured on a frankly ridiculous 68% of drop-backs but had a perfect 158.3 rating when kept clean.
09.45 – Titans at Raiders Game Notes
And so, without a single word of apology, those pesky Titans slip into the last AFC Wild Card slot. Don’t they understand that as soon as their starting quarterback goes down they’re supposed to fold like a cheap suit? Playing his best football since getting his mega-bucks contract in Buffalo, Ryan Fitzpatrick overcame a porous O-line and decent play from his rookie QB opponent to prevail.
– The three highest graded players were Ryan Fitzpatrick (+4.2), Akeem Ayers (+4.1) and Kendall Wright (+3.4)
– The three lowest graded players were Michael Roos (-3.2), Lucas Nix (-3.2) and Chance Warmack (-2.9)
– How good was Ryan Fitzpatrick? Well of his 12 incompletions four were deliberate throw-aways and another five were dropped.
– We talked about solid tackling displays earlier in the blog. It’s early because we haven’t had our All-22 checks completed but, at the moment, we haven’t charged Tennessee with a single miss.
– Somebody must have realized Marcel Reece is still on the roster. After playing only a third of the snaps in weeks nine and ten and being given only a single carry, he’s averaged 55% of snaps the last two weeks and carried nine times.
09.00 – Steelers at Browns Game Notes
After losing their first four Pittsburgh have now won five of seven and are making strides on both offense and defense. A lack of consistency from certain players is still concerning (Troy Polamalu just managed his worst and best games of the year in consecutive weeks) but with the Bengals, Andy Dalton suffering a similar affliction it’s going to be an intriguing home-stretch.
– The three highest graded players were Troy Polamalu (+5.6), Joe Thomas (+4.6) and Josh Gordon (+3.7)
– The three lowest graded players were Jordan Cameron (-4.4), Jarvis Jones (-3.8) and Tank Carder (-3.7)
– It’s one thing for a receiver to play well when they have a good quarterback, it’s quite another to stand-out so vividly when your passers combine for a -3.5 grade. Josh Gordon managed to haul in 14 of 16 targets for 237 yards and a touchdown, 169 against Ike Taylor who has now surrendered more yardage than any other corner in football.
– For the first time in his young career Jarvis Jones played every defensive snap but his assignment may have warranted occasional respite. He drew the best pass protecting left tackle in football in Joe Thomas and his 41 attempts to get at the QB yielded just two clean-up pressures, one of which occurred when Thomas was stepped on by LG, John Greco.
– While the Steelers Offensive line is still struggling to generate any hole for their runners – they managed only 2.8 yards a carry here – at least the pass protection is improving. Of the five starters in this game four are now grading “in the green” overall with only center Fernando Velasco rating a negative (-3.1)
08.15 – Panthers at Dolphins Game Notes
Maybe the officials have got the memo that Luke Kuechly is going to be defensive player of the year and a glut of penalties against him is not going to help sell him. The crucial flag on the helmet to helmet hit that dislodged the ball from Rishard Matthews in the end zone was picked up with barely a murmur but it shouldn’t disguise the fact the better overall team won despite sub-optimal play from their QB.
– The three highest graded players were Mario Addison (+2.8), Ryan Kalil (+2.8) and Kawann Short (+2.5)
– The three lowest graded players were Cam Newton (-5.4), Bryant McKinnie (-4.2) and Nate Chandler (-3.8)
– No doubt who won the battle of diminutive, feisty players. Against Ted Ginn, Brent Grimes allowed only three yards on three targets but when up against the never-say-die Steve Smith, he surrendered five of six targets for 69 yards.
– The Miami Dolphins may not be the worst tackling team in the NFL (they rank 13th) but they are one of the most inconsistent. They missed more in a game than anyone else with 24 against the Bengals but also have two three; a two and single tackle miss days. This was a thirteen miss affair and in all probability cost them the game with Cam Wake missing three on his own.
– Whisper it quietly but maybe Kawann Short is as just as good an all-round player as Star Lotulelei? He’s not as good a run defender as the man selected the round above him but he may be better at getting to the QB with 20 disruptions to Lotulelei’s 16. Regardless the biggest difference in the Panthers defense this year is the play of the tackles.
07.30 – Jets at Ravens Game Notes
The Jets win-one-lose-one routine was supposed to come to an end three weeks ago when Geno Smith managed a whole four air yards against the Saints but the New Orleans defense imploded versus the run leaving it to Baltimore this week to break the sequence. It really is testament to just how good the Jets defense has been, that even with the worst quarterbacking in the league, they are still thick in the Wild Card hunt.
– The three highest graded players were Corey Graham (+4.3), Eugene Monroe (+3.8) and Elvis Dumervil (+2.9)
– The three lowest graded players were Geno Gradkowski (-5.4), Brian Winters (-5.3) and A.Q. Shipley (-2.8)
– The Jets have the best run defense in football. Here’s a graphic showing just how consistent they have been by gap this year:
– With another perfect game in pass protection Eugene Monroe has now only given up 12 quarterback disruptions on 252 pass drops since coming to Baltimore. That’s a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 96.0 and would be good for 5th among left tackles if extrapolated out over the season.
– After an awful start to the year against Denver, Corey Graham has played pretty well and that culminated in his best performance of the year yesterday. It doesn’t get much better than been thrown at three times, intercepting two and knocking the other one down.
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