Secret Superstars: Week 16
Week 16 of the 2012 season saw Calvin Johnson break Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yardage record, and Adrian Peterson and J.J Watt edge closer to single-season records of their own.
While you recover from the holidays, and gear up toward the New Year, we know that you’re already well aware of all of that. So once again we’re here to highlight those players that stood out beyond the box scores, with another edition of Secret Superstars.
This week we’re highlighting a fullback in Kansas City, an offensive lineman in Denver, a defensive end in Minnesota and a defensive back in Houston.
Patrick DiMarco – FB, Kansas City Chiefs
It hasn’t been a great season for Kansas City Chiefs fans, by any stretch of the imagination, with their team finding new ways to lose seemingly each week. That was further evidenced this week, as they ran for 354 yards against the Indianapolis Colts yet still lost due to the complete lack of a passing game altogether. Still, it’s an impressive feat to rush for over 350 yards and, while the plaudits went to Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis for racking up the yards, the most impressive performance in the Chiefs’ backfield came from the one doing the lead blocking, fullback Patrick DiMarco. An undrafted free agent out of South Carolina in 2011, DiMarco didn’t see the field on offense until Week 13 this year. Despite this, he has managed to impress us with his play as a lead blocker in that time. He may have caught our interest in the previous three weeks, but it was Sunday that made us really take notice.
As good as his performance against the Colts was, with just two negatively graded plays, his play was highlighted by two key third-quarter blocks that set up long runs by Charles. First, on 1st-and-10 with 14:55 left in the third quarter, he lead Charles round the outside before cut blocking safety Joe Lefeged to the ground and allowing Charles to carry on downfield easily. Then, on 2nd-and-1 with 12:55 left in the same quarter, he drove Colts linebacker Dwight Freeney inside, allowing Charles to cut back into open space for another big gain. We have only four games of work on DiMarco, and even then only two with a significant amount of snaps, but, in a league where true fullbacks are ever dwindling, the young man is definitely worth keeping an eye on heading into next season.
Manuel Ramirez – OG, Denver Broncos
Unlike their fellow teams in the AFC West, the Denver Broncos have had little trouble picking up wins this season and, with MVP candidate Peyton Manning at the helm, are still in with a chance to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With Manning on offense and Von Miller on defense, it’s easy for the players around them to get lost in the shuffle. That’s partly true for offensive guard Manuel Ramirez, however part of the reason he doesn’t get many plaudits is because he hasn’t looked that impressive overall this season. Despite this, he turned in his best performance of the year on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
As a pass blocker he finished the game with a perfect Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) Rating of 100.0, with absolutely no pressure at all allowed from 47 passing plays. That marked the sixth time this season he has had a perfect PBE Rating, not too surprising considering his struggles have come as a run blocker, but impressive all the same. He had no such struggles in the running game this week however, with his only negatively graded play coming in the form of a false start. His day was highlighted by a nice pull block on Browns linebacker Craig Robertson on 1st-and-10 with 11 seconds left in the opening quarter. It’s been a season of struggles for him as a run blocker, but if he can produce more performances like this in the coming weeks, Denver will be in even greater shape for the playoffs.
Everson Griffen – DE, Minnesota Vikings
Like Manning in Denver, the presence of MVP candidate Adrian Peterson on the roster makes him the focal point of all things Minnesota Vikings. Peterson’s season, especially considering the injury he’s coming back from, has certainly been incredible. However, the Vikings have also been boosted by some impressive performances on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end Everson Griffen hasn’t actually impressed at all for much of the season, but he had by far the most impressive performance of his three-year career on Sunday against the Houston Texans.
As a pass rusher, Griffen registered two hits and five hurries from 33 pass rushing snaps, giving him a Pass Rushing Productivity Rating of 18.1, the second-best mark among defensive ends in Week 16. He consistently got the better of Texans right tackle Derek Newton, with four of his hurries coming against him. It wasn’t just as a pass rusher where he gave Newton problems though, with his lone tackle on 13 running plays resulting in a defensive stop coming against him. On 1st-and-10 with 59 seconds left in the opening quarter, he breezed past Newton to the inside before tackling running back Arian Foster for a 5-yard loss.
Glover Quin – FS, Houston Texans
While the Houston Texans may have lost to the Minnesota Vikings, they did get the best performance they’ve had from safety Glover Quin this season — not that it’ll be much consolation should they slip up again this week and wind up without a first-round bye in the playoffs. A fourth-round draft pick in 2009 out of New Mexico, Quin plays both as a free safety in base defense and up closer to the line in nickel and dime situations.
In coverage for 30 snaps on Sunday, Quin didn’t even see a pass thrown into his coverage by Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder. That didn’t matter much, as he was still able to excel against the run, especially when playing up near the line. He played 19 of his 36 snaps against the run within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage and made five tackles, all of which resulted in a defensive stop. That gave him a Run Stop Percentage of 26.3%, the second-best mark among safeties this week. Rounding out his game nicely, he was able to beat Peterson on 2nd-and-10 with 13:33 left in the third quarter for his only pressure from five snaps as a pass rusher.
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