Stock Report: NFC, Third Quarter
It's the NFC's turn as Ben Stockwell take his monthly look at the players who've stepped up or slipped down for each team.
Stock Report: NFC, Third Quarter
As we turn for home after Thanksgiving it’s time to look back on the penultimate month of the season and take a look at the players shifting their form up and down as teams position themselves for the final push.
This is the fourth edition of the Stock Report this season and even though you would think that a player’s form would have stabilized by now you’d be dead wrong, there are still wild fluctuations in form to be seen across the league both on the individual and unit level.
In this month’s NFC Stock Report we’ll highlight some rookies on the rise as well shining a light on the contrasting fortunes of two members of the same defensive line.
And for the risers and fallers in the AFC, this month’s AFC Stock Report.
Stock Up: Carson Palmer (+2.3, Q3 2013; -7.6, Q2 2013)
When you have a defense as good as the Cardinals do at present you just need your offense to avoid being completely self-destructive and anything above and beyond that is all the better. Palmer has not consistently hit his peaks with the Cardinals but has rarely reached the levels of self-destruction we saw from Cardinals’ quarterbacks in recent seasons. Strong showings against Jacksonville and Indianapolis this month have helped keep the Cardinals in the playoff hunt as we enter the final month of the season.
Stock Down: Daryn Colledge (-8.1, Q3 2013; +7.5, Q2 2013)
At the half way point of the season Colledge was playing as well as any guard in the league especially as a run blocker but since the Cardinals’ Week 9 bye week Colledge’s form has slipped failing to repeat his terrific second quarter run blocking and struggling in pass protection. In eight games before the bye Colledge surrendered eight pressures (2 Ht, 6 Hu), in four games since he has surrendered 15 (2 Sk, 6 Ht, 7 Hu).
Stock Up: Lamar Holmes (-2.9, Q3 2013; -8.3, Q2 2013)
You still wouldn’t say that Holmes is playing well, but he is making clear progress through the season and this month avoided the occasional dreadful game that had pitted his year to date. On his current trend, Holmes will get close to average in the final month of the season. Possibly not an ideal progression curve but a positive one all the same.
Stock Down: Thomas DeCoud (-7.0, Q3 2013; +1.6, Q2 2013)
Not a single positively graded game this quarter, only one around zero and five missed tackles. DeCoud struggled in coverage early in the season (-5.4) and after a moderate recovery in the second quarter (+0.7) of the season drifted away again over the last four games (-3.7).
Stock Up: Kawann Short (+7.0, Q3 2013; +2.8, Q2 2013)
While Luke Kuechly is getting plenty of attention at the heart of the Carolina defense, many observers are missing the point that the Panthers’ improvement on defense is a whole unit thing, not one linebacker making the difference. Nowhere is that more true up front where Kawann Short has added his weight as both a run defender (+4.3) and a pass rusher (+2.3) this month.
Stock Down: Melvin White (-5.4, Q3 2013; +0.3, Q2 2013)
Marcus Cooper has got more attention as a rookie corner coming out of nowhere to play solid football, but Melvin White has followed a similar trajectory this season. Unfortunately for White and the Panthers, that trajectory has included a significant downturn in form over the last month. White surrendered completions on 73.6% of his targets this month for 174 yards compared to 95 yards in one more game last month.
Stock Up: Julius Peppers (+2.1, Q3 2013; -6.0, Q2 2013)
While the Bears haven’t capitalized on Aaron Rodgers’ absence this month, their star defensive end has picked up his game. Peppers struggled in run defense and as a pass rusher last month but rebounded in both regards this month culminating in a strong showing against the Vikings (+1.3 run defense; +1.5 pass rush) this past Sunday.
Stock Down: Corey Wootton (-3.5, Q3 2013; +4.8, Q2 2013)
Injuries forced Corey Wootton inside to play the 3-tech in the Bears’ defense and though his run defense was a little shaky at times his pass rushing filled the void that was left by the injury to Henry Melton. This month, however, that form as a pass rusher has not carried over. 15 pressures last month has given way to just one hurry in four games this month. Three batted passes were Wootton’s biggest pass rushing contribution this quarter.
Stock Up: Mackenzy Bernadeu (+9.1, Q3 2013; -1.2, Q2 2013)
Only three games for the Cowboys this month but strong performances in each of them for Bernadeu whose dreadful season debut against the Giants is a long way in the past now. His +5.3 run block grade this month was topped by only Evan Mathis (+8.4) and Rodger Saffold (+6.4) but Bernadeu also played well in pass protection surrendering only three pressures (1 Sk, 1 Ht, 1 Hu).
Stock Down: Bruce Carter (-7.1, Q3 2013; +2.7, Q2 2013)
The Cowboys have had their struggles in many regards this season but Carter’s difficulties against the run have been about as bad as it gets. His display against Oakland was better but the back-to-back games in New Orleans (-4.0 run defense) and New York (-5.1 run defense) typified the Cowboys’ struggles at their worst.
Stock Up: Larry Warford (+9.8, Q3 2013; +0.2, Q2 2013)
After a couple of poor run-blocking games on the road early in the season, Warford had been pretty steady for the first eight games of his career (balancing those games with strong efforts in his first two at home) but his stellar third quarter should catapult him into All-Pro and Pro Bowl consideration if he can sustain this form. He has already vaulted himself up Khaled Elsayed’s Race for Rookie of the Year, trailing only Sheldon Richardson after Week 13.
Stock Down: No one
Far from a superlative month for the Lions, at least until their crucial and decisive Thanksgiving victory over the Rodgers-less Packers, but a ground where no individual has really seen a massive drop-off in form. The division is still not won but it is there for the taking and, with the right end to the season, the Lions can put themselves up there with anyone behind the Seahawks in the NFC.
Green Bay Packers
Stock Up: Tramon Williams (+6.0, Q3 2013; -1.4, Q2 2013)
Only Alan Ball earned a higher coverage grade than Williams among starting corners this month, his +5.1 coverage grade tying Patrick Peterson for second best. His completion percentage allowed and yards allowed this month may not be super low but in registering 13 stops in four games Williams has fired himself up just short of the league lead with 20 for the season.
Stock Down: B.J. Raji (-10.2, Q3 2013; +0.7, Q2 2013)
No real impact for Raji this season as either a pass rusher or more importantly as a run defender earning a negative grade in every single game this month having at least fluctuated above and below a 0.0 grade last month. Packers fans will be eager to see Raji finish this year the same way he did last season when he earned a +9.9 run defense grade in the final four games, a mark bettered by only J.J. Watt over that period.
Stock Up: Audie Cole (+3.3, Q3 2013; DNP, Q2 2013)
You can’t raise your stock much more as a player looking to make his mark than by retaining your starting spot upon the return of the player you replaced in the lineup on a temporary basis. The key factor in Cole’s breakout fortnight has been his work in coverage earning a +5.8 coverage grade surrendering only 11 yards on five receptions against the Packers and Bears.
Stock Down: Jamarca Sanford (-3.8, Q3 2013; +3.5, Q2 2013)
A pretty simple story here for Sanford who has been mediocre all season outside of one extremely good game in New York against the Giants, a slew of missed tackles in the last three weeks including four against the Packers have led to a poor month upon his return to the lineup.
New Orleans Saints
Stock Up: Akiem Hicks (+9.1, Q3 2013; +0.6, Q2 2013)
After a slow start to the month against the Cowboys, Hicks exploded into life as a run defender and even adding extra value as a pass rusher. His 14 stops were bettered only by J.J. Watt and Sheldon Richardson while his eight total pressures (3 Sk, 1 Ht, 4 Hu) account for more than half of his season total (4 Sk, 2 Ht, 8 Hu). But for that down game against the Cowboys, Hicks’ season has been on a massive upswing since the Saints’ Week 7 bye.
Stock Down: Junior Galette (-1.7, Q3 2013; +3.1, Q2 2013)
The start of the month for Galette is the key for Galette’s downturn this month registering only two pressures in the two games at home to Dallas and San Francisco which after a consistent four game stretch in the previous quarter meant that a solid end to the month (4 Ht, 6 Hu in Atlanta and Seattle combined) didn’t quite catch him up over the course of the month.
New York Giants
Stock Up: Andre Brown (+3.3, Q3 2013; DNP, Q2 2013)
Back with a bang earning the third highest rushing grade of the month (+5.7) behind only Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy. Brown forced eight missed tackles in his first two games back against the Raiders and Packers before topping things off with a 6.0 yard per carry display against the Cowboys in Week 12. A tough outing against the Redskins still featured two touchdowns in a strong return to the fold.
Stock Down: William Beatty (-2.7, Q3 2013; +5.8, Q2 2013)
While his team-mate at right tackle Justin Pugh earned the right tackle spot in our Team of the Month, Beatty was struggling in pass protection on the left side. His 16 pressures surrendered in fourth games this month was a step back from the 10 he surrendered in the second quarter of the season. Five of his league-leading (tied) 10 sacks came this month, three of them against Washington on Sunday night.
Stock Up: Lane Johnson (+5.8, Q3 2013; -0.2, Q2 2013)
After a strong debut against the Redskins the start of Lane Johnson’s career was in line with his perception entering the league (raw) and matched the poor start to the season that the likes of Eric Fisher made as well. Since Week 9, however, a light has flipped on for Johnson. His run blocking in the three games up to the bye was as good as it gets (+7.3 Weeks 9 to 11) and he only surrendered four pressures (2 Sk, 2 Hu) this month.
Stock Down: Fletcher Cox (-2.6, Q3 2013; +14.8, Q2 2013)
After his spectacular second quarter of the season a bit of a disappointment this month. Yes, he played two games less but he wasn’t nearly as effective as a pass rusher on the inside and only brought a really strong display against the run in the one game against Redskins in Week 11 (+1.5). This season has been an overwhelming stride forwards for Cox but the last month hasn’t matched the form he showed in the second quarter that earned him an honorable mention in that Team of the Month.
St. Louis Rams
Stock Up: Tavon Austin (+4.4, Q3 2013; -0.6, Q2 2013)
The consistency might not have been there still, but at last from Austin this month gave a sign that the scintillating talent that leapt off of his college tape is still there waiting to break out at the pro level. The Rams and Austin have taken their time working things out, but big plays as a runner, receiver and returner this month offer optimism for a big finish to the season.
Stock Down: No one
Two crushing victories and two disappointing defeats, this month almost perfectly encapsulated the Rams season of such promise and clear ability but that looks like falling short of achieving anything tangible. The one player that many might have been waiting to appear in this section is Robert Quinn but his grade has in fact increased in every month so far this season; +16.2 in Q1, +18.5 in Q2, +19.7 in Q3. The highest individual grade for a 4-3 defensive end each month.
San Francisco 49ers
Stock Up: Patrick Willis (+10.0, Q3 2013; +2.8, Q2 2013)
Playing his way back into form after an injury disrupted start to the season Willis has been consistent in the last month notching stops and not missing tackles. Only one miss in four games this month are paired with 13 stops and positive grades both in run defense and coverage. Only one negative game grade for Willis this season which came in his first game back from injury at home to Arizona.
Stock Down: No one
Another month of slow burn for the 49ers who aren’t losing ground but at the same time still aren’t hitting their straps and re-discovering that punishing 2012 form. However with no-one losing form and the return of Michael Crabtree with time to re-discover his form ahead of the playoffs is this where the 49ers launch their assault on the playoffs?
Stock Up: K.J. Wright (+8.6, Q3 2013; -3.8, Q2 2013)
There probably isn’t a linebacker playing better in coverage than Wright at the present moment, playing well enough to earn a spot in the team of the month. He earned three of his five highest single game coverage grades of the season this month and only has three negatively graded games all season, two of those only marginally so. 11 of Wright’s 18 tackles this month were stops, plays resulting in an offensive failure.
Stock Down: Chris Clemons (-6.3, Q3 2013; +0.3, Q2 2013)
The Seahawks have done so well from having such a huge and talented stable of pass rushers that Clemons’ drop in form has gone somewhat unnoticed. Early in the season Clemons was very much a part of that but he has only graded positively once as a pass rusher since Week 7 and only had one game with multiple pressures this month notching just one hit and three hurries in three games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Stock Up: Daniel Te’o-Nesheim (-0.2, Q3 2013; -15.6, Q2 2013)
Moving in parallel with his team’s performance, Te’o-Nesheim made the stride from a disastrous start to contributing in a solid third quarter of the season for Tampa Bay. A non-factor both as a pass rusher and run defender until Week 9 Te’o-Nesheim provided more solid run support this month (+2.7). Though his pass rush still isn’t what you would call prolific his conversion rate of what pressure he got was excellent; of his five pressures this month he converted four into hits (three) and sacks (one).
Stock Down: No one
Like the Jaguars that dreaded 0-16 season is off of the table and the Bucs were able to build some momentum this month after a disastrous start to the season. A comfortable defeat to the Panthers this weekend however gave a stark reminder of the work that the Bucs still have to do with plenty of important decisions to be made during and after the next month.
Stock Up: No one
The miraculous winning streak of last season hasn’t materialized in Washington this season and some cracks are starting to show both on and off the field. The defense continues to struggle and the offense only topped 20 points once this month, back against the Vikings in Week 10.
Stock Down: Ryan Kerrigan (-6.6, Q3 2013; +8.5, Q2 2013)
A precipitous drop in form for Kerrigan this month who has struggled as a run defender outside of one game against San Francisco and hasn’t generated anything close to the amount of pressure that he generated last month. He in fact generated more pressure in one game against Chicago (1 Sk, 8 Hu) than he recorded in four games this month (1 Ht, 7 Hu).
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Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.