From the FanPosts -Joel
Last week I made a feeler post detailing a statistic numbering system to keep track of the defensive front seven. I've spent a good amount of time going over the first game of our preseason, and I've tabulated the KaloPhoenix Metric (KPM) for each defensive player that played in the first half of the Atlanta game.
The KPM is still a work in progress, so take the results with a bit of a grain of salt. I appreciate criticism, especially those that have suggestions regarding the KPM. Also, these results are meant to compare the players in similar positions, so differences between the defensive line and linebackers should be disregarded.
Let's get to it!
Some observations/analysis before the stats:
- Vrabel only had one series, so his numbers will be low.
- The Williams/Mays combo was on the field longer than they were last year. It seemed Haley/Crennel were really testing them out.
- Mays looked like he played far better than his score showed. He played far better than I expected.
- Speaking of guys who played better than expected, Edwards (although his numbers were low) played arguably better than he did all of last year.
- Studie's pass coverage has improved quite a bit.
- The linebacker KPM's are going to be low because the Falcons seemed far more content to run in the 1st half.
- We only ran the 2-5 a couple of times, opting to stay in the 3-4 for some obvious passing downs. This created more pressure, but really put the empasis on the inside linebackers inability to cover.
- DJ/Williams seemed invisible throughout the game. That might be due to their roles in the scheme, but it seemed to feature Mays and Belcher more. It very well could have been the run heavy 1st half, as well.
So, we'll start with the defensive line:
In his time on the field, he didn't have a negative KPM play. He closed two gaps, grabbed five double teams, 1 bull rush success, and 1 tackle for loss. He played very well, not letting a "free man" through the line, and didn't get thrown off the line. He was able to stand his ground, claim double teams when he could, and turn runners toward the inside linebackers and safeties. However, he didn't gain any pass rush on the limited pass plays he saw, and really didn't drive his man into the background to disrupt the quarterback. It was a good foundation for him to build on.
Overall KPM: 17 Points
Tyson ended up having a pretty good day at the other starting defensive end spot. He closed one gap, grabbed two double teams, two bull/swim successes with one solid penetration, one quarterback pressure, and 1 batted down pass. However, he let two free o-linemen through him to the second level, and both resulted in big runs. Like Dorsey, he didn't see anyone shove him off the line. I was most impressed by his ability to get by his man, something we didn't see last year. He also was the best defensive lineman at getting his hands up during a pass play, evidenced by his pass breakup. He also freed up Vrabel for the quarterback pressure in the first series. He seems to have continued his form from the end of last year, and added some swim moves to his arsenal.
Overall KPM: 13 Points
Ron actually surprised me a bit this game. I've been one of his biggest critics, and I thought we were in for more of the same during the first drive. However, he started to turn it around from the second drive onwards. He closed one gap, and grabbed a surprising five double teams. On the negative side, he let three free men through, and got shoved off the line two times. That sounds bad, but trust me, it's better than a good portion of the games last year. He seemed to do better with a little rest, whether it was through an offensive series or relief from Lokey. He still wasn't good, and he's still not the answer, but it was an improvement against a pretty good offensive line.
Overall KPM: -1 Point
Lokey is our 3-4 pass rush nose tackle, it would seem. It wasn't until Edwards came fully out of the game that he started playing against the run. In the limited time he was full-time in the 1st half, the Falcons passed more than they ran. If I had tabulated the second half figures, he would've graded out lower due to his lack of strong run support. That said, he grabbed 2 double teams, sliced through his man and achieved two penetrations, one bull rush, and an impressive two quarterback pressures from the nose tackle spot. He was shoved off the line twice towards the end of the first half. Definitely showed strong on passing downs, but lacked on the run.
Overall KPM: 12 Points
Surprisingly, Wallace wasn't on the field as much as I expected. I thought we'd see him a little bit more of him on rotations, but like many positions, it seemed we were evaluating how these guys would do in all situations. His only KPM recorded play in the first half was a tackle for loss that his blocker whiffed on. Hopefully we'll see a little bit more of him in the coming weeks.
AP's "great nose tackle hope" over the offseason lined up as a defensive end every snap he took in the first half. He really only saw a snap or two, and his only KPM recorded play was a double team. He played decently in the second half, certainly better than Magee did when he came on. He's fairly solidly the second string defensive end.
And now onto the linebacking corps:
Overall KPM: 2 Points
As stated above, Vrabel only saw one series, which happened to be our worst defensive series of the first half. He had one quarterback pressure and strung another play along nicely for one tackle for no gain. He did take an inside line once, leaving a giant gap on the outside. He seemed to have a little extra speed behind him than I remembered from last year. I hope that continues.
Overall KPM: 1 Point
Tamba did what he ended the year doing last year: getting behind the line of scrimmage and pressuring the quarterback. He had three quarterback pressures, filled one gap, and forced an offensive penalty. He did have a false start penalty and hit the wrong gap once on the negative side. He didn't seem to be using swim or bull rush moves, simply relying on his speed and agility to get around his man. The wrong gap happened in the first drive, and it allowed a big run. After that, he seemed to play a bit further off the line on run plays, resulting in tackles further away from the line of scrimmage. Still, quarterback Pressures will eventually result in sacks and forced fumbles, so it's good to see him do well in that department.
Overall KPM: 6 Points
Demorrio was fairly invisible all day on Friday. Again, a run heavy scheme plays more to the strongside inside linebacker's strengths, so it may have just been a product of the running offense/defense. He stepped in a filled a gap, and he forced one checkdown with his coverage. On the flip side, he did whiff on one tackle and allowed a 15 yard third down completion, albeit to the best tight end in the game, but it was poor coverage. He seemed hesitant to step forward and get himself into the action, letting Mays do most of the gap filling, and sat back in the second level to make a late tackle. It will be interesting to see how a pass-heavy offense affects Demorrio's KPM.
Overall KPM: -2 Points
Corey is the primary example of how the KPM will work. On my first watch, I thought he was just mediocre. On the second, he seemed like he was everywhere. When going through the KPM, he ended up pretty much in the middle. He filled three gaps, the most of all the linebackers, forced a checkdown, and had a tackle for loss that was pretty much all his doing. However, he did hit the wrong gap once, and allowed a 3rd and long pass to Tony (different from Demorrio's) that he was WAY out of position. Still, the inside linebacker that I felt was our weakest last year was one of our best in this game. Promising start in the run-stuffing department from Mays.
Overall KPM: 4 Points
DJ suffered from the same problems that Demorrio did: he just didn't really seem to be there. As this analysis is for first half grades, he got very limited snaps. He forced one checkdown on Belcher's quarterback pressure with his coverage. Other than that, he didn't see much of the action in the first half.
Overall KPM: 2 Points
Jovan came in for Mays with the second string, and continued the play that Mays started. He filled one gap, had one quarterback pressure, and one tackle for loss. He (like Vrabel) seemed far quicker than he did last year, especially on his blitz. Rewatching it, an offensive lineman had a shot at him and the running back saw him coming, but neither could get to him. His coverage was fairly decent as well, but didn't force anything of note. It was definitely the strongside inside linebackers's day on Friday.
Overall KPM: 6 Points
Studebaker had himself a very, very nice day filling in for Vrabel. On top of one forced checkdown (surprisingly good coverage), he had a quarterback pressure, a tackle for no gain, and a tackle for loss. He showed strong run support skills against both their first and second teams, and when asked to back off into coverage, he held his ground against the backup tight ends and running backs. His time on the field was reminiscent of his Pittsburgh game from last year. Let's hope this next preseason game is better than the stinker he laid after the Steelers game.
Overall KPM: 8 Points
(Ed Note: Poor guy doesn't have an NFL.com picture yet!)
Sheffield was only on the field a limited time in the 1st half, and he had his good and bad moments. He did record a tackle for loss, but also gave up a pass completion with some poor coverage. He seems to have the motor and enough speed to be successful in the outside linebacker position, but I noticed (in the second half) that his consistency was a bit lacking. I'm sure the coaching staff will have noticed that as well.
Overall KPM: 1 Point
So, to tidy it all back up, the rankings for the two sections are shown below:
- Glenn Dorsey 17
- Tyson Jackson 13
- Derek Lokey 12
- Wallace Gilberry 3
- Shaun Smith 2
- Ron Edwards -1
- Andy Studebaker 8
- Tamba Hali 6
- Jovan Belcher 6
- Corey Mays 4
- Derrick Johnson 2
- Mike Vrabel 1
- Cameron Sheffield 1
- Demorrio Williams -2
It would seem that given these numbers, the KPM favors the defensive line. That very well may be the case. However, I noticed a lot more of the "right" things done by our defensive line from last year. They seem to be filling gaps a bit better. They seem to be able to achieve a double team easier. They also seem to be gaining penetration to pressure the quarterback or stop the running back significantly better than last year. Meanwhile, the linebackers seemed to balance their positive plays out with negative ones (or they weren't on the field enough). For instance, Corey Mays had the most positive KPM plays out of all the linebackers, but he also gave up a costly first down with his coverage and missed a gap that led to a big run. I'm very interested to see what kind of numbers shake out when our guys are on the field for longer. I have a feeling our defensive line will tire and not be as effective as they were in the first half, and our linebackers might have more of an impact as the game goes along. This could balance it out, and I'll be watching week 3 of the preseason eagerly to see if it does.
Onto the players, I was most impressed by Jackson, Belcher, and Studebaker. These three stuck out in areas I had critiqued them on last year.
1. Belcher looks faster, and he appears to be making decisions quicker instead of waiting for the play to come to him. He's not quite as sure of a tackler as I'd like him to be in the strongside inside linebacker position, but he does cover better than Mays. He looks like he's also put on some bulk, because he shed tackles easier than I saw out of him last year.
2. Jackson seems to have picked up some DL moves, and generally seems more aware of what's going on around him. He still let two offensive linemen by him that shouldn't have gotten by, but from the second series onward, he looked much stronger and quicker than last year. I'll be quite shocked if he doesn't get a sack in the first half of the year based on his work rate and new moves.
3. Studebaker is a hard guy not to like. His workrate is incredible. Last year, he was able to make things happen with his workrate alone. In this game, he looked like he was understanding things better, even calling out coverages at the line of scrimmage. After the ball was snapped, he was rarely caught out of position. He's still lacking some of the strength to power by the right tackle, but he's not going to let the right tackle pancake him either. He's definitely looking like a younger Vrabel, playing smart and working hard.
Alright guys, what do you think? Any surprises on there? Even though next game will probably be even less of the starting guys, I'm going to go ahead and do the 1st half, just to gather the information to see if we can draw comparisons between weeks one and two. Hope you enjoyed it!