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.

The Cleveland Browns, Trent Richardson, And An Alabama RB Discussion

NFL Data Consultants was not a fan of what the Cleveland Browns did with their 2013 NFL Draft.  Despite the selection of QB Brandon Weeden in the 2012 NFL Draft, they did come away with some talent on offense with RB Trent Richardson and WR Josh Gordon (supplemental draft).  Josh Gordon is a case where an organization needs to assign its risk level because he had meet the criteria analytically of a player worth taking, but had other concerns that would affect his long term potential.  At least the Cleveland Browns aren’t totally devoid of analytics.  They do have a single analytics guy, which is better than nothing but it makes his job challenging depending on the level of analytical buy-in from the organization and scouting department.

With RB Trent Richardson, the Cleveland Browns took the best all around running back of the three primarily talked about running backs of Trent Richardson, Mark Ingram, and Eddie Lacy in recent NFL Drafts.  Lacy has health concerns, and since I don’t have a medical team to put that into a proper measuring tool, I will speak about what can be seen analytically.  Lacy played the toughest competition of the three backs and was a hammer doing it.  His production metrics were outstanding, but they are only one piece of the puzzle.  His full picture compares him more to committee backs.  Richardson finished in the middle on production metrics, but presents the best overall package and the best ability of the three in the passing game.  Mark Ingram had the lowest competition score between the three and the lowest yards per carry.