PFF Reaction Blog: Week 15
A new week and a new edition of the PFF Live Reaction Blog, focusing on all the games from Week 15!
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 45 minutes to be in the know.
16.30 – Packers at Cowboys Game Notes
In a game neither defense could be proud to be a part of the Cowboys lost because their group was worse and their QB reverted to type (yet again). The media are now seeing poor old Tony Romo as “the gift that just keeps on giving” and the worst part of this is I feel myself begrudgingly starting to agree.
– The three highest graded players were Josh Sitton (+5.2), Dez Bryant (+3.9) and Sam Shields (+3.4).
– The three lowest graded players were Nick Hayden (-4.0), DeVonte Hollman (-3.9) and Cameron Lawrence (-3.6).
– The sign of a good running game for me is getting yardage between the tackles and in that respect the Cowboys did well with 119 of the 134 yards coming in the “A” or “B” gaps.
– The Packers line was dominant too. It allowed the Green Bay half-backs 102 of the 153 yards before contact.
– Not only did the Packers offensive line do a good job opening holes but they blocked well too. Matt Flynn was pressured on only 7 of 42 drop-backs and only one of those pressures came as the result of an identified OL error.
16.15 – Chiefs at Raiders Game Notes
It wasn’t as good a performance as the score-line would suggest but I’m sure the Chiefs could care less. With Denver and New England losing they just needed the win so – mission accomplished. The playoffs could still go through Arrowhead with affair wind and then who knows?
– The three highest graded players were Jamaal Charles (+4.4), Brandon Flowers (+3.0) and Eric Berry (+2.6).
– The three lowest graded players were Matthew McGloin (-7.0), Brandian Ross (-3.2) and Rodney Hudson (-3.1).
– Throwing at Eric Berry on three targets netted a one yard catch for four yards and two interceptions for a QB rating of 2.8. Nice stats if you can get them.
– If only Matt McGloin had stuck to throwing outside the numbers; his 11 passes there gave him a 129.9 rating. Inside the numbers a rather less creditable 38.7 .
– Only 22% of Alex Smith’s passing yardage came in the air. A league high 78% came after the catch.
15.45 – Jets at Panthers Game Notes
The Jets did a reasonable job of running the football but when all the talk is about your DT running in a touchdown, is that really an indictment of the media or your team? As for Carolina, they just needed to get through this to face the Saints in what now seems like a defining moment for both teams.
– The three highest graded players were Muhammad Wilkerson (+3.6), Greg Hardy (+3.5) and DeAngelo Williams (+2.1).
– The three lowest graded players were Melvin White (-3.4), Demario Davis (-3.3) and Ryan Kalil (-2.9).
– Calling out teams can be a fraught affair as WR, Santonio Holmes found out. If you want to have your next taunt taken seriously you need to do better than on 34 pass routes catching two of eight targets for 14 yards including a drop.
– It’s not necessarily the dominance of his play that makes Sheldon Richardson a key candidate for defensive rookie of the year, it’s more his fantastic consistency. We’ve never graded him less than a -0.2 in any single game and he’s received a “green” rating in 12 of 14 games.
– That’s a nice return to form after a barren couple of weeks for Greg Hardy. He’s had the same number of pressures (seven) on two other occasions this year but in both cases it was on much more pass rush attempts than the 29 he had here.
15.15 – Bengals at Steelers Game Notes
When I saw the score at the end of the third quarter I dreaded to think what Andy Dalton would be grading but that’s what you get for assuming, a reminder that football isn’t about box scores. On this occasion Dalton did little wrong but was let down by poor special teams and some butter-fingered receivers (five drops).
– The three highest graded players were Troy Polamalu (+4.2), David DeCastro (+4.0) and Carlos Dunlap (+3.6).
– The three lowest graded players were Matt Spaeth (-4.8), Dre Kirkpatrick (-4.5) and Cody Wallace (-3.0).
– In the first start of his career we found out why this was the first start of Dre Kirkpatrick’s career. In addition to giving away a touchdown and a QB rating of 145 into his coverage Kirkpatrick also missed four tackles.
– Outstanding run defense keyed the Steeler’s victory. On non-QB runs (scrambles or designed) Pittsburgh allowed only 37 yards on 17 attempts with no missed tackles.
– Is Troy Polamalu the most inconsistent player in football or does his gambling style of play just make him that way? In the last seven weeks he’s graded over +4.1 twice, under -4.6 twice, two +1.5’s and a -2.1
14.30 – 49ers at Buccaneers Game Notes
Why can’t I get excited about the 49ers? Their defense looks better than last year and they keep winning but something about their offense makes me nervous. It’s probably the play of Colin Kaepernick – he hasn’t played a better than average game against a good defense since week one and then only barely. But he hasn’t played badly for a long time either and it’s that feeling of something about to happen that would worry me if I was playing San Francisco in the play-offs.
– The three highest graded players were NaVorro Bowman (+4.4), Aldon Smith (+4.2) and Gerald McCoy (+3.3).
– The three lowest graded players were Akeem Spence (-3.7), Ahmad Brooks (-3.1) and Donald Penn (-3.0).
– Aldon Smith is finding his form very quickly. Nine QB disruptions against a pretty good left tackle (Donald Penn) were the most he’s had so far this year.
– After playing well last week it was a backward step for Johnthan Banks in this game. His 12 missed tackles now give him the second worst tackling efficiency overall among all corners and the worst (11 misses) in the passing game.
– Gerald McCoy continues to perform as the best defensive tackle in football but his penalty count is worrying. His two in this game now make ten for the year – tied for most at his position with Nick Fairley.
13.45 – Texans at Colts Game Notes
With the Texans now only thinking of next year and Case Keenum playing as if he wants to ensure the front office know exactly where to spend their first round draft pick, even J.J. Watt looked a shadow of his usual self. So poor did the Texans offense look, it felt like garbage time had been entered far sooner than it actually was.
– The three highest graded players were Brandon Brooks (+5.4), Darius Butler (+4.0) and Gosder Cherilus (+3.7).
– The three lowest graded players were Whitney Mercilus (-5.5), Case Keenum (-5.1) and Brice McCain (-3.6).
– The coverage stats for Darius Butler; thrown at six times, two catches allowed for 20 yards with two interceptions and another pass knocked down for a QB rating when throwing at him of 4.2.
– After his back to back poor games in weeks nine and ten the Texans have been rotating Wade Smith at left guard. It seems to be having the desired effect because despite playing only 58% of the snaps here, he had with his best grade of the year with +3.2
– Winston Justice had a great start at right Tackle for Indianapolis last year before fading from week eight on. It’s debatable for some if new RT, Gosder Cherilus was worth what he was paid but the upgrade is undeniable. He’s now our 6th ranked Player at his position.
13.00 – Saints at Rams Game Notes
A dismantling, a mauling, call it what you want but this is a result that must start alarm bells ringing in Louisiana. Some of the Saints skill position players did enough to keep the thing respectable but when both your offensive line and defense gets handled so convincingly it’s surely more than just a “one off”. However that’s what Sean Peyton will be telling his troops but now he’s got to go to Carolina and prove it.
– The three highest graded players were Robert Quinn (+7.4), Jahri Evans (+4.1) and Roger Saffold (+3.6).
– The three lowest graded players were Charles Brown (-5.4), Curtis Lofton (-3.9) and David Hawthorne (-3.3).
– Two sacks and two hits on Drew Brees in 33 drop-backs got LT, Charles Brown benched and then, from 8:39 in the 3rd quarter, it was up to Zach Strief to try and contain the dominant Robert Quinn. He allowed only two pressures on the right but then seven on the unfamiliar left.
– The Rams offensive line allowed pressure on only 4 passing attempts as they were required to pass protect on only 20 occasions.
– All bar 22 of Zac Stacy’s 133 yards came outside the tackles. This 17% of yards between the tackles is unusual for him as he normally averages 50%.
12.15 – Bills at Jaguars Game Notes
Just as Jaguars fans felt it was safe to come out from under the stairs their team laid a collective egg. The good news is that despite only a single player grading green they were still in with a chance to win and indeed should have. The bad news? Only a single player graded green.
– The three highest graded players were Cordy Glenn (+5.6), Uche Nwaneri (+4.7) and Jerry Hughes (+4.0).
– The three lowest graded players were Cameron Bradfield (-4.2), Corbin Bryant (-4.1) and Tyson Alualu (-3.6).
– Paul Posluzny had 10 tackles with all but one resulting in a “Stop” (win) for the defense.
– Jerry Hughes has been a great pick up for the Bills. With his sack, three hits and two hurries in this game, his pass rushing productivity of 15.4 is better than all bar Elvis Dumervil among 3-4 linebackers.
– Cordy Glenn is quietly turning into one of the best left tackles in the NFL. With his top grade in this game he’s currently our 7th rated player at that position and the youngest of the group.
11.15 – Bears at Browns Game Notes
It was a brave move that at one stage looked like a risk that should have been avoided. Replacing the recently excellent Josh McCown with the mercurial Jay Cutler was the wrong decision to me but all ended up well. Or did it? This is the Browns after all with their bottom third pass rush but then again the Eagles and the Packers have roughly the same. I guess Bears fans will be happy to find out in the playoffs.
– The three highest graded players were Mitchell Schwartz (+4.8), T.J. Ward (+4.6) and Joe Thomas (+4.3)
– The three lowest graded players were Jason Campbell (-4.8), Shea McClellin (-4.4) and Jon Bostic (-3.3)
– Of his 39 attempts Jason Campbell only threw three times outside the numbers to his right and completed only one – an interception caught by Zach Bowman and returned for a TD.
– Brandon Marshall is the best blocking wide receiver in the NFL and the second best isn’t close at all. His +16.1 is the best we’ve ever seen beating his own record of +12.2 in 2008.
– After a slow start to his sophomore year Mitchell Schwartz is bedding in nicely. In his first two games he allowed 18 QB disruptions. That’s more than he’s allowed the last six weeks combined with zero in this game.
10.30 – Eagles at Vikings Game Notes
It was a little bit disconcerting when happening by the NFL’s website this week I saw a promotion for the Pro Bowl QB ballot featuring the usual subjects, Brady, Brees etc. But then, perched on the end, looking somewhat like a gatecrasher to me, was a picture of Nick Foles. Such is the astounding facility of the QB rating to make people forget games like week 7 versus Dallas or his display against Arizona. He wasn’t terrible here but with 233 of his yards coming after the catch and some bad throws to boot, his numbers were deceiving.
– The three highest graded players were Mychal Kendricks (+4.5), Jason Kelce (+4.3) and DeSean Jackson (+4.3)
– The three lowest graded players were Bradley Fletcher (-4.3), Robert Blanton (-4.2) and Matt Asiata (-3.0)
– While Matt Asiata’s three touchdowns may give him a decent fantasy score (in fact he’s probably also in with a good shout for some NFL award) production is all important and only 1.3 yards per run after contact, giving up a sack and hurry in pass protection and a dropped pass won’t misty our eyes.
– Although he’s not getting any Pro Bowl recognition (not yet at least!) Matt Cassel deserves more than just a pat on the back for his efforts. Pressured on 43% of his passes he still managed a 126.4 QB rating on those throws.
– What an excellent display from Mychal Kendricks. After an awful start to the year he played one of the best games of his career registering a sack, hit and hurry while pass rushing as well as making three stops against the run and an interception.
09.45 – Seahawks at Giants Game Notes
So far have the Giants fallen that even with the Seahawks not playing particularly well on offense they still lose by 23 points. 181 net offensive yards is all the home team could muster against a defense missing two of its top three corners and best coverage linebacker. The next two game look simply about trying to preserve a little pride.
– The three highest graded players were Michael Bennett (+4.6), Russell Okung (+4.6) and Brandon Mebane (+4.1)
– The three lowest graded players were Eli Manning (-5.4), Breno Giacomini (-4.1) and Jon Beason (-3.7)
– Of Eli Manning’s five interceptions, four came when throwing to Hakeem Nicks. That’s now seven for the year but is still behind Rueben Randle as eight have come throwing at him.
– OK, so Michael Bennett has given up too many penalties (10) but that’s all the ex-Buccaneer has done wrong since moving west. His Pass Rushing Productivity of 13.5 sits behind only Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake among 4-3 ends and that’s before you even consider his excellent play versus the run.
– If anyone isn’t sure why the Seahawks let Antoine Winfield go after training camp, they should be now. They simply couldn’t afford to let the young talent they had on the roster walk. Since Walter Thurmond was suspended after week 11 Bryon Maxwell and Jeremy Lane have combined for a +9.7 grade
09.15 – Patriots at Dolphins Game Notes
Have the Dolphins turned a corner? In successive weeks now they’ve held on to win nail-biters in the past they would have conspired to lose (see as short a time ago as only week 12). Can they now go on to win two games (@ Buffalo and at home to the Jets) they are expected to? Maybe it’s time for Dolphin fans to get fully behind their young QB safe in the knowledge he is the best they have had since 1999.
– The three highest graded players were Tom Brady (+5.7), Ryan Tannehill (+3.8) and Mike Wallace (+3.6)
– The three lowest graded players were Olivier Vernon (-4.1), Will Davis (-2.4) and Josh Boyce (-2.2)
– Ryan Tannehill is an excellent developing young talent but his Achilles heel is still some of the shorter throws. This season his worst area is to his left, outside the numbers and under nine yards which is why the final touchdown pass to Marcus Thigpen, against reasonable coverage was also important outside the context of just this game.
– So how do you replace Rob Gronkowski? Well after not having played since week 11, Michael Hoomanawanui got a season high 88% of offensive snaps in this game.
– After a hot start to the season Aqib Talib’s play has cooled somewhat since his return from injury. Up to week six quarterback’s throwing into his coverage rated a meager 28.9. On his return that number has risen dramatically to 136.9.
08.15 – Cardinals at Titans Game Notes
While the Titans are now officially eliminated from playoff contention they didn’t go quietly into the night. Against a team whose (now) 9-5 record would be good enough to be leading or tied in 50% of NFL divisions they put up a tough fight and gave a good defense as much trouble as any other team.
– The three highest graded players were Calais Campbell (+5.5), Jurrell Casey (+4.4) and Kendall Wright (+3.0)
– The three lowest graded players were Eric Winston (-6.2), Patrick Peterson (-4.7) and Rashard Johnson (-2.3)
– Patrick Peterson had the second worst day in coverage of his career. His worst came in 2011 week 11 when he was toasted by Michael Crabtree. Here it was Kendall Wright with his number; catching six of seven passes into his coverage with the only non-completion being a drop.
– While Andre Ellington has had a few problems catching the ball (his five drops are =4th among half-backs) when he does get a handle, good things happen as he is also 4th in Yards per Route Run with 1.88 after having his best day of the season receiving in this game.
– At the other end of the scale Kenny Britt didn’t repay the 52 pass routes he was given (by some margin his greatest number of the year) in terms of production. He managed a mere 29 yards but worse, his drop which now gives him seven on the year stands against only 11 receptions – an unbelievably poor drop rate of 37%.
07.30 – Redskins at Falcons Game Notes
So what do we know now that we didn’t know previously? So Kirk Cousins has a good arm but was a little rusty? Personally I feel that was already in the books. Put me down as one of the people who believe the coaching staff got this completely the wrong way round. When I saw Robert Griffin in camp he looked well under-cooked and felt Cousins may be the superior option but if Griffin is now healthy why not play him? It just feels like there’s more here than meets that eye.
– The three highest graded players were Trent Williams (+3.7), Chris Chester (+3.2) and Tyler Polumbus (+2.3)
– The three lowest graded players were Paul Warrilow (-5.0), Peria Jerry (-4.8) and Lamar Holmes (-4.2)
– For reasons I can’t quite comprehend Redskins fans seem intent on beating up on one of the few parts of their team that has actually played quite well this year – the offensive line. It’s probably a relative thing as neither our grading nor the numbers support that view. The line is currently sixth in pass blocking efficiency, third by our grading and in terms of average time to pressure on five and seven step drops is equal sixth.
– Are the Falcons starting to give up on the Osi Umenyiora pick-up? He wasn’t on the injury report but for whatever reason he didn’t start for the first time this year and played only 28 of 71 snaps. That’s only 39% of plays with his previous low being 59% against Tampa Bay in week 11.
– While the Umenyiora addition hasn’t worked out yet, the Flacons first round draft pick is looking a very good selection indeed. While his pass defense on the final play to win the game isn’t counted in the statistics (for some reason two pointers don’t have the same rights as other plays) Desmond Trufant’s 14 other such plays still currently leads the league.
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