Football Analysis – Post NFL Week 2 Notes

Two weeks and a Week 3 NFL Thursday Night game into the season, and NFL Data Consultants has notes and analysis on trades, NFL personnel decisions, and a review of some of the analytical predictions made regarding the careers of some NFL players.

  • Rarely do we see trades after only two weeks of the NFL season, but we saw a big one between the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts. The Indianapolis Colts acquired RB Trent Richardson for a 2014 1st round draft pick. There has been much debate as to who won this trade, but that cannot be known until the Cleveland Browns make a selection with the draft pick or use it in a trade. A simple way to evaluate a trade is to look at how it will affect Quarterback Rating differential for the organization. QB Andrew Luck is sitting at a career QB Rating of 78.4 after two weeks in the 2013 NFL season. Despite all the accolades he has received, his Quarterback Rating is below the standard necessary to sustain winning long term. The question then becomes is how much will his own development plus the benefit of the running game boost his Quarterback Rating. The barrier that needs to be surpassed is a QB Rating just over 90 since that is what the Indianapolis Colts defense has given up with Andrew Luck at Quarterback. For the Cleveland Browns, the team Quarterback Rating since the start of the 2012 season has been among the worst in the league at just above 70. The biggest key to having a positive Quarterback Rating differential will be at Quarterback, and thus whether this trade was good for them will be based on how they use the pick to improve the Team QB Rating offensively. Expect an analytical review of the Indianapolis Colts side of this trade after the season is completed.
  • After consecutive weeks of baffling gameday roster management by the Philadelphia Eagles, they finally let DE Vinny Curry play. He only played 12 snaps, but his first three snaps netted the following results: a sack, a Quarterback hit and errant throw that was nearly intercepted, and a holding penalty by the offensive lineman trying to block him. NFL Data Consultants projected him as a 45-12 (tackles-sacks) type of DE when he came out, and he needs to be on the field as often as possible.
  • While we are talking about the Philadelphia Eagles, QB Michael Vick may in the process of showing signs of a regression to the mean as a passer with a 49.4 QB Rating in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs. His QB Rating on the season still remains at 96, and what he has been able to do for the run game remains a bright spot.
  • Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed continues to progress and see a steady diet of snaps at Tight End. In Week 1, he had 24 snaps, and followed that up with 26 snaps in Week 2. On the season, he has 8 catches, 56 yards, and a touchdown.
  • WR Quinton Patton of the San Francisco 49ers has not yet made an NFL reception, playing only on 13 pass snaps. While the Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman was manhandling WR Anquan Boldin, the San Francisco 49ers lacked answers in the passing game. A solution to the problems exists on their own roster, but he needs more snaps on pass plays to make a difference.
  • Only four linebackers on the New England Patriots roster have logged snaps in the first two weeks. The only one without a negative grade by Pro Football Focus is LB Jamie Collins. However, Collins has only been on the field for 6 snaps, but should see increased playing time as long as continues to develop mentally.

NFL Data Consultants Post NFL Week 1 And Cut Down Day Notes

Cut down day and Week 1 have now come and gone so it is time for further updates. NFL Data Consultants had identified 4 key waiver wire gems among the cuts and all four them ended up with NFL organizations very quickly. Only one of the them ended up with an organization that does not have an analytics department, while 3 of them landed with organizations that do use analytics.

  • One of the oddest decisions of Week 1 was the inactivation of DE Vinny Curry of the Philadelphia Eagles. In the preseason, he was practically unblockable and applied constant pressure on the quarterback. With the fast break offense of the Eagles, the organization should have confidence that it will be in the lead and thus in a situation where pass rushers should be on the field.
  • New York Jets QB Geno Smith ran a little bit ahead of his QB Rating, going 24 for 39 with 214 yards passing and a touchdown and interception. His QB Rating was 78.6, a little better than the low to mid 70s upside he is projected at. Now he will be challenged with a short week and the New England Patriots.

NFL 2013 Preseason Week 3 Football Notes

Notes and Updates from Week 3 of the 2013 NFL Preseason are below:

  • As mentioned in the NFL Preseason Week 2 Notes, Michael Vick had played excellent football in the short sample size, but had mixed results when given a larger sample. QB Nick Foles is probably the first Quarterback in history to lose a QB job with an 84% completion percentage with a  QB Rating. Bill Parcells was once quoted, “You all act like you can dial 1-800 and get a quarterback.” To that, I say he is literally correct. Right now, that phone number starts with a Philadelphia area code.
  • So who was the highest graded offensive player by Pro Football Focus for the Green Bay Packers in the third preseason game? It was none other than RB Alex Green, who had 2 carries for 31 yards and finally showed the burst that makes him an NFL Data Consultants favorite. He is in a crowded backfield now, but there is no doubt he can play and be an effective running back when healthy. With RB Johnathan Franklin ineffective and RB DuJuan Harris battling a knee injury, the door is opening for Alex Green.
  • New York Jets Quarterback Geno Smith finally got back on the field after returning from an ankle injury. The quote in my Preseason Week 2 Notes says it all. QB Geno Smith threw three interceptions and accounted for a safety by running through the back of the endzone. To top that off, QB Mark Sanchez entered the game in the 4th quarter behind a backup offensive line and injured his right shoulder. The New York Jets is an organization in disarray, and the only way out of that is to take a long term analytical approach.
  • Unfortunately for the Arizona Cardinals, OG Jonathan Cooper is going to be potentially out for the season. Guard is a position of lesser value, but what how can this injury affect QB Carson Palmer? Remember pressure on the Quarterback will drop the QB Rating by 25% or more.
  • QB Mike Glennon of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers demonstrated the Jekyll and Hyde persona of his analytical profile. He completed only 3 of 9 passes for 44 yards, but had a TD and no interceptions.
  • Defensive End Margus Hunt delivered his first preseason sack for the Cincinnati Bengals. Hunt also had two solo tackles, an assist, and a tackle for loss. With DE Michael Johnson playing the season on a franchise tag, DE Margus Hunt is likely going to be filling the position next year so he needs to develop and be ready by year two. Relatively new to the game of football, he still has a way to go in development; however, the ceiling remains high.
  • TE Luke Willson continues to run with the Seattle Seahawks first team offense. Willson had 2 receptions for 21 yards and continues to make rapid improvement, especially in his run blocking.  He will continue to make it difficult for the Seattle Seahawks Coaching Staff to get keep him off of the field.
  • Denver Broncos RB Montee Ball showed more of why he should get more opportunity over Ronnie Hillman at running back. Ball had 70 total yards, 43 rushing and 27 receiving and added a touchdown. Ronnie Hillman had 6 carries for 34 yards, but once again turned the football over with a fumble.
  • WR Quinton Patton made his first preseason appearance, which was referenced in the NFL Preseason Week 2 Notes. Patton led the San Francisco 49ers in receptions and receiving yards, catching 4 passes for 35 yards. For having a road bump in his rookie year development due to a fractured finger, the prediction that WR Quinton Patton would be better than A.J. Jenkins is practically in the bag after A.J. Jenkins had a horrific offseason and was traded away. Patton remains destined for a good future at wide receiver.

NFL 2013 Preseason Week 2 Football Notes

Notes and Updates as it pertains to Week 2 of the 2013 NFL Preseason is below:

  • Michael Vick has won the starting job in Philadelphia. He has played tremendous this preseason and if going by the short sample, he is the logical choice. Vick has a tendency of turning the football over, and it is likely that a bigger sample size will bear that out. Luckily for the Philadelphia Eagles, they are deep in Quarterback options if the turnover trend emerges during the season.
  • TE Ladarius Green caught 5 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. He has Wide Receiver like potential out of the Tight End position, and just needs the right scheme to fit. With the San Diego Chargers struggling to keep WRs healthy, perhaps Ladarius Green will be able to carve more of a Wide Receiver like role even with a healthy Antonio Gates.
  • The New York Jets have to be concerned right now regarding with the Quarterback situation. Mark Sanchez has continued the 1:1 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions throughout the preseason. He has proven what he is. Geno Smith did not play after an injuring his ankle and having brutal practices. It is sort of like the quote, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” While Geno Smith is sidelined, he isn’t able to remove all doubt that he is not the long term answer at Quarterback for the New York Jets. Geno Smith is slated to start at QB for the New York Jets in Preseason Week 3.
  • It had to be nearly impossible for the St. Louis Rams to evaluate their second team wide receivers properly with the play of QB Kellen Clemens; WR Stedman Bailey was among this group that had little chance to be evaluated. Kellen Clemens provided a brutal Quarterback outing as he lived on the a rule of 2s; he threw 2 over the head of Bailey,completed 2 of his eleven passes, and then threw 2 interceptions. Quarterback is a difficult position to find and upgrade. Perhaps they could find an upgrade since there are 2 third string Quarterbacks that NDC analytics grades to have a good rate of success.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers Strong Safety Shamarko Thomas led the team in tackles, providing 4 solo tackles and 2 assists. He also forced a fumble that led to a turnover. He clearly demonstrated the skills of a successful Strong Safety.
  • While the Denver Broncos were getting beat like a drum by the Seattle Seahawks, the battle at running back raged on. RB Ronnie Hillman had 13 carries for 34 yards, and he turned the ball over with a fumble. A turnover and an average yards per carry of under 3 yards is going to make it tough to not hand the ball to RB Montee Ball; Ball had 6 carries for 28 yards, an average of 4.66 yards per carry. Analytically, it is clear that Montee Ball is the better ball carrier, but he did miss a blitz assignment that led to QB Peyton Manning being hit. The only thing that can keep him off the field is himself; it is based on his determination to learn and execute his pass block assignments. He has the skill set to be a successful runner in the NFL.
  • WR Quinton Patton of the San Francisco 49ers has yet to play this preseason due to a fractured finger. Now that it has healed and he has been cleard to catch passes, he should be available for evaluation in NFL Preseason Week 3 or Week 4. The San Francisco 49ers are clearly searching for answers at wide receiver as seen by the trading WR A.J. Jenkins to the Kansas City Chiefs for WR Jon Baldwin. Just like Jenkins, Baldwin has an analytical profile that suggests a high risk of failing.

NFL 2013 Preseason Week 1 Notes and Updates, Volume 2

Volume 2 of Notes and Updates as it pertains to Week 1 of the 2013 NFL Preseason is below:

  • Reports out of the St. Louis Rams camp continue to remain very positive on WR Stedman Bailey. Below is a quote from ESPN’s NFC West Blog, written by Nick Wagoner: “Rookie receiver Stedman Bailey had another strong practice in what is now turning into a long line of them. He was essentially perfect in one-on-one drills and continued to get open and catch everything thrown his way in team drills. It remains to be seen if he can do it against the top corners but he’s having his way with the backups on a regular basis.” NFL Data Consultants has also confirmed this report with a league source.
  • Quarterback Matt Barkley of the Philadelphia Eagles posted a 78.4 Quarterback Rating in his NFL preseason debut, completing 11 of 22 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Despite the struggles he had, he did not turn the ball over and he improved as the game went on, especially in the no huddle offense.
  • In the derby to start at Quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Foles completed 5 of 6 passes for 43 yards and posted a QB Rating of over 100. His true test will come in NFL Preaseason Week 2, as he will be starting.  Michael Vick had a great outing with his 5 attempts, yet 5 attempts by Michael Vick and 6 attempts by Nick Foles is too small of a data sample to make any sound conclusions.
  • Seattle Seahawks Tight End Luke Willson got the start in place of the injured Zach Miller and caught 2 passes for 16 yards. Head Coach Pete Carroll stated that the rookie TE is having a great camp. His blocking continues to improve.
  • Buffalo Bills WR Robert Woods started at Wide Receiver in the preseason opener, where he caught 4 balls for 32 yards. Buffalo Bills General Manager Doug Whaley quoted the following regarding Robert Woods: “When he came into OTAs and even out here for training camp, he looks like a 10-year veteran. That’s exactly what we thought of him: Polished.”

This concludes the updates on Week 1 of the 2013 NFL Preseason