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.

The Unique Case Of Green Bay Packers WR Charles Johnson

The Green Bay Packers drafted WR Charles Johnson in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft.  Johnson played at Grand Valley State, but he has a lot of physical tools.

Analytically, his profile is that of a wide receiver with excellent physical measures, and a tremendous production score. His reliance metric and volume do present increased risk that must be factored in.  Overall, he presents good upside from where he was selected in the NFL Draft. Additionally, he is one of the unique cases (see RB Rex Burkhead, Cincinnati Bengals) in the NFL Draft to not have a direct close comparative at his position logged into our system.  The list of wide receivers on the outer fringes does make an intriguing list though.

The Green Bay Packers and the Alex Green Effect

Alex Green continues to be an intriguing running back for NFL Data Consultants due to his analytical profile.  Remember, one of our key objectives is to measure and predict the careers of players as they enter the NFL.  Unfortunately, Alex Green has been battling a knee injury that he suffered in his rookie year.  It is one that typically takes 2 years to fully heal.

In 2012, a picture of how a potentially healthy Alex Green would project became available since he was the comparable for RB Bryce Brown of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Bryce Brown averaged a very good 4.9 yards per carry on 115 rush attempts, and Alex Green is on the plus side of the comparison between the two.  Even the qualitative measures for Alex Green are more favorable to that of Bryce Brown.

At Hawaii, Alex Green played in a very pass happy offense and still possessed a very strong analytical profile as a runner.  If healthy, Green is the best fit for an Aaron Rodgers offense predicated on the passing game and spreading out the defense.  They did draft Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, but Lacy brings a different element and a healthy Green is a superior prospect to Franklin based on both the analytical profile and the comparisons.

At NFL Data Consultants, we take a holistic approach with comparative analysis because all elements are combined into a single framework.  NFL Data Consultants will be releasing a daily series on June 17 that will highlight the best decision each organization made with the 2013 draft and undrafted rookie signings.  The key is to feature one player from each organization that had a better analytical profile for success than the player’s market value (draft position) indicated.  The objective is to finish all 32 NFL Teams before the start of training camp when the pads go on.

Quarterbacks, Analytics, And Arbitrage

There is an ongoing debate right now regarding who the best Quarterback is of all time, and it usually results in a Joe Montana versus Tom Brady debate.  I see a different problem that needs to be resolved.  Why were neither taken in the first round?  The NFL is a league where the play of an organization’s QB will affect coaches, management, and their families.

With record turnover with Head Coaches and General Managers, the common theme by the media is the inability to find a Quarterback.  From radio to ESPN talking heads, to a recent USA Today article, it is clear that a system that evaluates Quarterbacks well is of tremendous value.

Understanding Quarterbacks is not an easy task, but rather a complex problem.  It takes outside the box analytical thinking.  What if you could bring in not 1, not 2, but 3 Quarterbacks that if provided the opportunity would be successful?  The only way to do that is to understand what leads to success and then use it as a framework to determine the probability of success.  The Cowboys were ahead of their time when they formulated a draft pick chart and used arbitrage to amass talent that would bring multiple Super Bowl Championships.  They understood the value of an asset because they did the research and analysis to make it quantifiable.

The Green Bay Packers had a great stretch of years bringing in Quarterbacks that went on to have success with other organizations, and none of them required an early pick.  Among them were Matt Hasselbeck (6th), Mark Brunnell (5th), Kurt Warner (UDFA), and Aaron Brooks (4th).  None of them were starters sitting behind Favre who was acquired via trade for a 1st round pick.  The type of success by the Packers to evaluate the QB position is something a strong analyical system can replicate.  It proves that an organization can accumulate multiple Quarterbacks that have a high probability of success and are also undervalued in the market.  Using an approach that is measurable, it is very possible to cash in on the arbitrage that exists with Quarterback evaluation.  Obtaining QBs for far below the perceived market value would also help remove the monetary bias and allow a true competition for the job.  And a competition among a good group of Quarterbacks means success for the coaches, management, and their families.  It also means a very satisfied owner and fan base.