Daily Focus: Can Carlos Hyde thrive under Chip Kelly?
Pro Football Focus analyst Bryson Vesnaver takes a look at Carlos Hyde under Chip Kelly, Kyle Rudolph's claims and Kirk Cousins' contract dispute.
Daily Focus: Can Carlos Hyde thrive under Chip Kelly?
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Can Chip Kelly’s offense give Carlos Hyde’s career a boost? That’s exactly what Hyde believes, as he has seemingly bought into Kelly’s system and Kelly as a coach. But will it really help Hyde’s career? We can look back to when Kelly first started with the Eagles to see what kind of a difference he made as a coach.
In 2013, Kelly’s first season as the Eagles coach, LeSean McCoy was coming off a season in which he had 200 carries for 840 yards and two touchdowns. His +4.5 overall grade was a career high at the time, but he didn’t get a ton of opportunity. However, in 2013 McCoy enjoyed the best season of his career, finishing as the second-highest-graded RB at +16.2. He had 314 carries for 1607 yards (both led the league) and nine touchdowns. He also caught 52-of-59 passes for 540 yards and two touchdowns. In 2014, his numbers decreased, but he had the exact same amount of carries. He just did not deliver, posting a league-low -11.9 overall grade. Still, McCoy had 709 touches combined in his two years with Kelly.
This bodes well for Hyde’s young career. While McCoy already had four years and 852 NFL carries of wear-and-tear before his first season under Kelly, Hyde is much fresher. He’s been in the league just two years and has only 193 carries under his belt. However, the biggest difference between Hyde and McCoy is that Hyde is much more adept at breaking tackles. In his best season, McCoy’s elusive rating was 48.8. Last season Hyde’s elusive rating was 78.7, the second-best mark in the league. That’s not necessarily an anomaly, as his rookie season elusive rating was a similar 74.2. There’s not a huge sample size, but Hyde may be the most elusive RB that Kelly has coached in the NFL.
We saw a glimpse of the damage a fully healthy Hyde could do last season in Week 1, where he rumbled for 168 yards on 26 carries and forced seven missed tackles. The major concern of Hyde’s is his health. He’s missed 11 games in his two NFL seasons, despite a fairly limited workload. Last season he never really looked the same after that dominant first game. But he’s going to get a ton of opportunity under Chip Kelly. If he can handle it and stay healthy, he should be in line for his best season yet.
No, Kyle Rudolph is not the best tight end in football: Despite his claims to the contrary, Kyle Rudolph hasn’t shown himself to be near even the top 20 tight ends in football since the 2012 season. In the past three years, he’s graded 35th, 41st and 41st among all tight ends in football. To his credit, he graded 12th among tight ends in 2012 at +12.6. That was his career high.
One of Rudolph’s big points is that people just look at his receiving numbers and they don’t tell the whole story. He’s right about that, as playing tight end can be equally about blocking as well. And throughout his career, Rudolph typically spends about 50 percent of his snaps staying in to block. In 2011 and 2012 he was near the top of all TEs in terms of blocking, with a combined blocking production grade of +21.4 in those seasons. But his blocking grades dipped as injuries slowed down his 2013 and 2014 seasons. Then last year, despite playing in every game, he posted career lows in both pass and run blocking. His run-blocking grade ranked 53rd out of 73 tight ends.
The good news for Rudolph is that last year was a positive receiving year for him. He’s likely never going to be a guy who catches 85 passes for 1,000-plus yards in a season, but he showed last year that he can make a difference in the receiving game. He had five games in which he caught five or more passes. He’s got a long way to go before we put him in the same discussion as a Gronkowski or Walker or Eifert. But if he can get back to the blocking ability he had those first two seasons coupled with his improving receiving, then it’s possible that Rudolph could rank close to a top-10 tight end in the future.
Cousins playing out the year under the franchise tag is likely best for both sides: It’s being reported that QB Kirk Cousins and Washington are “going nowhere” with contract negotiation talks. It’s likely that Cousins plays out the year under the franchise tag. That would not be the worst thing for both sides.
Cousins had a good year last year. His +6.5 passing production grade was the 12th-best among quarterbacks in the NFL. His adjusted completion percentage of 78.5 was the second-highest in the league. He was one of the biggest reasons for a surprisingly successful season for Washington, culminating in a playoff game. But it would be dangerous to get too carried away with last season.
While there were a lot of positives last year for Cousins, there were a few negatives too. He struggled throwing the ball deep, his 36.1 adjusted completion percentage on balls thrown 20 yards downfield ranked 28th out of 35. He had issues dealing with pressure too, completing just 54.4 percent of his passes, averaging 6.9 yards per attempt and throwing seven touchdowns to seven interceptions when faced with pressure. That’s a far cry from the 77.4 percent completion rate, 8.0 YPA and 22-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio he had with no pressure.
But the biggest thing about Cousins last year was the same thing that has dogged him his entire career: his inconsistency. He’ll have a really good game one week, and then a really poor one the next. It’s easy to see why no long-term deal has been made yet. Cousins wants franchise-QB money and Washington wants to see more consistency from him. Another season gives them the chance to see if he can continue his improving play, as well as give Cousins more ammo to use in negotiations.