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» OFI: Letdown Saturday

A week after big upsets of Stanford and Ohio State, the USC and Virginia Tech themselves fell to less-talented opponents. Georgia also fell to South Carolina after pummeling Clemson in the opener.

11 May 2011

Four Downs: AFC South

by Tom Gower

Houston Texans

Biggest Post-Draft Hole: Defensive Back

The Texans used the 2011 Draft to attack their most obvious pressing need for the coming season, namely a lack of defensive players that fit new coach Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme. Defensive lineman J.J. Watt and outside linebacker Brooks Reed may not both start immediately, but should improve the pass rush immediately.

That added pass rush will be particularly important to the Texans, as spending their first two picks on front-seven players meant they couldn't upgrade the seconday, where the Texans needed at least two new starters. The need was particularly acute at safety -- 2010 starters Bernard Pollard and Eugene Wilson both played poorly and are not expected to return.

The Texans did add to their cornerback depth in the draft, trading up to select Brandon Harris in the second round. If they plan to start Harris, as defensive backs coach Vance Joseph suggested, they could move cornerback Glover Quin to safety. Quin was the only starter in the secondary in 2010 who was not below average, and moving him to safety could weaken the cornerbacks without greatly improving the safety play. But with the alternatives at safety including Troy Nolan, who was mediocre at best in limited work in 2010, and fifth-round selection Shiloh Keo, the Texans may have to run that risk.

Indianapolis Colts

Biggest Post-Draft Hole: Offensive Playmaker

The Indianapolis Colts have had a mediocre offensive line in the past several years. From 2003 through 2007, the Colts were among the best in the league in two stats: Adjusted Sack Rate and Adjusted Line Yards. Since then, the Adjusted Sack Rate has remained excellent, thanks to Peyton Manning's pocket presence and anticipation, but the Colts have not ranked higher than 23rd in Adjusted Line Yards in the past three seasons.

After whiffing on picking Tony Ugoh to be Tarik Glenn's replacement at left tackle in 2007, the Colts made do with Charlie Johnson, while a declining Ryan Diem continued to hold down the right tackle spot. First-round pick Anthony Castonzo and second-round selection Ben Ijalana should start immediately, with Costanzo at left tackle and Ijalana and Johnson playing guard and right tackle in some combination.

It is difficult to begrudge the Colts for working to improve the weakest part of their offense, but Manning's incredible career has been aided greatly by playing with an impressive collection of skill-position talent around him. With Reggie Wayne declining, the Colts need another standout to step up the way Wayne did when Marvin Harrison aged. Joseph Addai hasn't been as productive as Edgerrin James, but he has been a valuable back for what the Colts offense requires. Bill Polian tried to address this need by selecting wideout Anthony Gonzalez and running back Donald Brown in the first round in 2007 and 2009 respectively, but each has been a disappointment. The Colts must hope the offensive line is improved enough to cover these skill position deficiencies.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Biggest Post-Draft Hole: Defensive Back

Make no mistake, Blaine Gabbert was a very good pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars. David Garrard is 33 years old and has ranked 23rd and 24th in passing DVOA in the last two seasons. Without an elite supporting cast, he won't be more than a league-average starter, and may soon reach the point where he can't even be that. Gabbert will not have to start immediately, but as soon as he is ready, the Jaguars can cut ties with Garrard and insert Gabbert.

At some point, though, general manager Gene Smith must address the secondary for the Jaguars to return to the playoffs. The Jaguars ranked 30th in the league in pass defense DVOA in 2010. This was a slight upgrade from 2009, when they ranked 31st, but a slight downgrade from 2008 when they ranked 29th. It is no coincidence the last time the Jaguars made the playoffs they ranked ninth in pass defense DVOA. In the four drafts since then, the Jaguars have spent only one pick in the first three rounds on a defensive back, drafting corner Derek Cox in the third round of 2009 (which also cost them their 2010 second-round pick).

The Jaguars are hoping fourth-round safety Chris Prosinski will be ready to compete for a starting job and fifth-round cornerback Rod Issac can play nickelback. Both may happen, but that speaks more to the competition they face for those jobs than the normal expected production from fourth- and fifth-round rookie defensive backs. Neither player is likely to lead the Jaguars' pass defense to where it needs to be for a playoff berth.

Tennessee Titans

Biggest Post-Draft Hole: A Coherent Plan for Improvement in 2011

The Titans' top three draft picks are the sign of a franchise in a state of transition. In the first round they picked Jake Locker, quarterback of the future. They selected in the second linebacker Akeem Ayers, who projects as a strongside linebacker in a 4-3 defense, a position the Titans' defense has not truly featured for the better part of a decade. In the third round, the Titans drafted defensive tackle Jurrell Casey even though they are returning their top four defensive tackles from a year ago.

What still isn't clear is what exactly the Titans will look like offensively or defensively in 2011. General manager Mike Reinfeldt indicated the Titans will bring in a veteran quarterback and not thrust Locker into the starting job right away. Locker improved in his last two years at Washington and looked good in the run-up to the draft, but he is not accurate or experienced enough as a passer to be a productive starter as a rookie. Most of the offensive personnel around the quarterback will be the same as it was in 2010, but the most effective part of the Titans' 2010 offense was downfield passing -- no other team threw a higher percentage of passes 21-30 yards downfield, and no other team had more success on such passes. The Titans will no longer have a quarterback who excels on these throws the way Vince Young did.

Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray has said he plans to have the defense show more multiple looks than the standard 4-3 base that the Titans have used. The problem, though, is the Titans pass defense was only good when the defensive line provided pressure, and that pressure came primarily from the ends playing aggressively, a practice Gray has already indicated he plans to discontinue. Gray must be find a way for the defense to apply pressure, or an average secondary will be exploited by opposing passers the same way it was in the second half of 2010.

A version of this article previously appeared on ESPN Insider.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 11 May 2011

43 comments, Last at 18 May 2011, 7:09pm by commissionerleaf

Comments

1
by bingo762 :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 12:10pm

Reggie Bush to the Colts?

3
by Hank Hardy Unruh (not verified) :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 12:24pm

I don't see how that would fill a hole - the Colts already have two injury-prone RBs who can average under 4 ypc.

6
by bingo762 :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 1:16pm

Said they were missing a playmaker. Other articles have stated they need a good kick/punt returner. For the right price, Bush could fit those needs. thinking more of a 3rd down back catching passes out of the backfield

22
by Bobman :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 1:07am

Sweet!

Well, we COULD use a decent returner. Every year I break out my Bill Polian rosary, do my novena, and STILL the bastid won't draft a returner. I may have to start a new religion.

While I agree that Wayne's window is closing, I think rather than a new playmaker on O, what they really need is decent health. You can't shoot down two productive 2/3 WRs and an All-Pro TE and expect to advance far (or at all) in the playoffs. Having any of those three healthy all season would have probably resulted in one more reg season win and a playoff win, maybe more. The entered 2010 with what looked like ridiculous depth catching the ball (esp after Garcon's and Collie's monster playoffs in 09) and somehow managed to look like they were playing the Chargers in 07 at times (the infamous Manning six-pick game featuring the "talents" of Devon Aromashadu, Aaron Moorehead, and Craphonso Thorpe, plus rotating two replacement OTs). Maybe Manning's game streak is having a Dorian Gray-like effect on the WRs....

2
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 12:21pm

Anthony Gonzalez was only a disappointment because he's been hurt, until then, he was a DVOA darling. Same with Austin Collie last season before the concussions. The offense will be fine. Their safety and DT issues are much bigger needs.

4
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 12:30pm

Some director's cut commentary, since you're not getting an FO extra:

TEXANS
This article was published on Thursday, which meant it was written at the beginning of last week. Since then, Wade Phillips has announced Mario Williams will play OLB, Watt and Antonio Smith will play DE, and Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell will play NT. I didn't mention Carmichael because he was a fourth-round pick and don't expect him to do no more than compete for nickel this year.

COLTS
A reprise of my theme from the prior Four Downs. Drake Nevis was a great fit at DT. They can win the division with what they have. The key for the defense is being healthy for the playoffs. They can win the Super Bowl if that happens. The Delone Carter pick looks like they're addressing a particular need, and I don't think of him as a potential starter. I suspect their primary strategic goal is to maximize their chances of winning the Super Bowl in the next 2-3 years, and whatever happens after that happens.

JAGUARS
Predictions: Gabbert should sit for a year, but will end up starting Week 1. Next year's AFCS Four Downs also hits on the Jaguars' need for secondary help.

TITANS
I buy the rumors that OC Palmer implements a WCO, and they sign Matt Hasselbeck if Hasselbeck doesn't want to stay in Seattle. If they don't sign Hasselbeck, the FA veteran QB will likely be Collins. If it's Collins, Locker starts at least 4 games as a rookie. There's a chance 2011 will be as ugly as 2005.

7
by mawbrew :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 1:28pm

Palmer hasn't been a WCO prior to this has he? Why would he change his offense now?

8
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 1:47pm

Titans and the WCO: I've not seen the rumours so I cannot evaluate the source but do you mean a Don Coyrell West Coast or a Bill Walsh West Coast. If you meant the latter then I'd be amazed as Palmer has spent his entire career running the digit system.

Personally I think the reason they took Locker is that he will still be a threat on the waggle/rollout game that helps hold the pursuit off Chris Johnson which in turn forces the defense to play the run, allowing them to throw deep into single coverage.

9
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 2:09pm

By WCO, I meant a controlled short-pass attack with routes depending on timing and accuracy letting receivers run after the catch. Terminology aside, Palmer's done that before, such as with the Brunell-era Jaguars. Whether it will look more like Reid or Shanahan is TBA, but they're closer to each other than what they did last year.

11
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 2:39pm

Just going to short passing without following the rest of Walsh's ideas sounds like a horrible idea. Can he teach the right footwork, pass placement etc? Urrgh. Sounds like a guy who earned his place in the UFL last year.

5
by nat :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 1:02pm

The Indianapolis Colts have had a mediocre offensive line in the past several years. From 2003 through 2007, the Colts were among the best in the league in two stats: Adjusted Sack Rate and Adjusted Line Yards. Since then, the Adjusted Sack Rate has remained excellent, thanks to Peyton Manning's pocket presence and anticipation, but the Colts have not ranked higher than 23rd in Adjusted Line Yards in the past three seasons.

The hidden assumption here is that pass blocking and run blocking are two sides of the same skill. They aren't. In fact, adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate are hardly correlated at all - at least in the 2010 numbers.

Not unexpectedly, the Colts built their line and scheme to emphasize throwing the ball. Yes, Manning is part of the protection, too. But he's only a part.

From the stats, you can reasonably say that the Colts are no longer a good run blocking team. To follow that by denying them credit for being a great pass blocking team is just wrong.

10
by Tom Gower :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 2:14pm

The non-explicit intended implication was that the Colts' offensive line is bad at both pass blocking and run blocking. You are, of course, free to disagree with that assessment.

12
by nat :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 2:52pm

You can have your opinion, too. But the stats argue against you. The low correlation between adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate suggests these are mostly independent skills. It's apparently quite normal for some offensive lines to be good at one type of blocking and bad at the other.

You claim the OL has declined in pass blocking skills. If so, why has their adjusted sack rate stat improved? Have the Colts changed QBs? Are their receivers better than they were three years ago?

13
by jimbohead :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 3:27pm

What's being expressed is the consensus opinion by a lot of the media scouts like Greg Cossel, etc. From a stats perspective, the contention is that Peyton is just really good at getting the ball out quick, and their offense in general is modifying their passing attack to allow for worse tackles, such that the ASR stays the same with worse protection.

14
by Independent George :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 3:50pm

It's also what my own lying eyes have been telling me for the last 3+ years - the protection has been between bad & awful, but Manning gets rid of the ball ("Goddammit Donald!") before the rush can reach him.

15
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 3:55pm

Manning releases the ball earlier than he used to. There was a montage in one of the mid-to-late season games showing his first 6-8 passes of the game. In no case was the ball still in his hand 2.5 seconds after the snap. Hence the ridiculous number of targets on players like Jacob Tamme last season, players who don't merit the attention. Against zone, he was releasing before the players reached the linebacker level in some cases.

The prevalence of timing routes over reading defenses also accounts for the additional interceptions thrown since the high point of Manning's career 2003-2006.

23
by Bobman :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 1:11am

Independent George's lying eyes and my lying eyes agree. He's been hammered back there, sacks or not. There was a late 2009 stat I recall from this very website that listed him as the most hit but least sacked QB. That says a lot about him and his line. I think his rising INT totals the past couple years are also affected by this (as well as WR injuries putting newbies in there).

16
by tuluse :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 4:03pm

The problem with stats is that they can be misleading, not measure what you think they're measuring or just show random fluctuations.

I think we're looking at a case of all 3 right here. Firstly, I looked back at the last 5 years of Indy ASR, and found that you can't really say it "improved" this year. It's about the same it was every year (except 2007 when it was unusually high). Second, a stat which measures sacks Peyton Manning takes is working with an extremely small sample. Just one more or fewer sacks last year would drastically change what his ASR looks like. Finally, just watching games they don't look like a good pass protecting team. They're a smart group which rarely has anyone unblocked. So they get their initial blocks, but they can't sustain them. Peyton is just so good he can identify who is going to be open and them the ball despite this handicap.

Here's another stat which tells a different story than ASR.

year int%
2003 1.8
2004 2
2005 2.2
2006 1.6
2007 2.7
2008 2.2
2009 2.8
2010 2.5

18
by nat :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 4:53pm

I compared 2003-2007 to 2008-2010. All three years when the Colts OL was supposedly bad, it had better ASRs than the best year in 2003-2007. So, yes, their ASR has markedly improved. During the "bad" years, their ASR averaged 2.9%. During the good years, the average was 3.7% - still quite good.

Regarding sample size: Manning dropped back to pass more than any other QB in the league. If preventing sacks means anything, if football stats mean anything, than sample size is not an issue here. You make the mistake of counting sacks as the sample size. A common mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.

Watching the games: Yes, it is possible to watch and reach different conclusions from what the stats show you. But even your anecdote hints at what might be happening. The Colts line is adept at making their initial blocks. Rarely is anyone unblocked. Receivers get open early and Manning throws the ball to them. The line is not physically dominating. Maybe the line doesn't have to hold one-on-one blocks for 5 seconds to be the most effective in the league. And remember: the plural of anecdote is NOT data.

Finally, you cite Manning's increased interception rate as evidence that his line is doing a poor job protecting him?!? Could it be Manning being asked to do too much and forcing the ball? Could it be his receivers, widely believed to be weaker than 2003-2007? Could it be the increased emphasis on passing, to the point where defenses can almost ignore the run? Could it be a change in passing scheme?

19
by DZ (not verified) :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 7:00pm

You are the first person I've seen argue that Indy had a good pass blocking line.

You are entitled to that opinion, but it is in the dramatic minority among people who actually watch the team.

That line was among the worst in football.

20
by DZ (not verified) :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 7:08pm

For the record, ASR is not necessarily a good way to measure line play. It says much more about QB skill than actual line performance.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/blog/?p=4152%22

Your argument is based on the fact that ASR and ALY don't correlate. That's fine. But perhaps the reason why is that one actually measures QB play and the other measures line (and a little bit of RB) play.

I haven't seen you present any evidence I consider convincing that the Colts line is good at pass blocking. ASR certainly doesn't prove it. My eyes, and the eyes of almost everyone who watches the Colts view the line as substandard.

There was a good piece on the average sack time for QBs. Guess who was near the bottom?

http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/23/when-it-comes-to-holding-the-ball-joe-...

14 of Manning's 15 sacks occurred in less than 3 seconds.

26
by nat :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 9:44am

Thanks. I was looking for that article about slow and fast sacks.

You're reading it wrong. Peyton Manning was sacked 14 times in less than 3 seconds. As you suggest, quick sacks imply a failure of protection more than a immobile/ball-holding QB - the reverse of the slow sacks. There are plenty of QBs with fewer quick sacks than Manning, and plenty with more. But since this is FO, we know that a cumulative stat is useless in this situation, and go immediately to the rate stat.

Guess where the Colts rank in preventing quick sacks?

They are the BEST in the league at this stat - the stat you brought up as the indicator of OL pass blocking quality. Manning suffered a quick sack less than 2% of his drop backs. No other QB had a rate lower than 2.3%. The median is 3.6%. Manning's line is allowing quick sacks at approximately half the average rate.

I know this won't convince you, even though you proposed the stat as the one that would convince you.

But every pass blocking stat that we've looked at says the Colts OL is near or at the top. Total sack rate, quick sack rate, and adjusted sack rate, they all say the Colts OL is the best in the business.

(Correction) TB with Josh Freeman at QB had the best quick sack rate at 1.7%. The median is 3.5%. Freeman's a good case in point. Although his line is good at protection, he still ranks in the bottom half in slow sacks. Manning (in the Colts scheme), on the other hand, is other-worldly at getting rid of the ball.

29
by Nate Dunlevy :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 10:56am

As a point of reference, do you actually watch the Colts' line, or are you strictly making a statistical argument? Do you honestly, from watching film, believe the Colts have a good pass protecting line?

It feels like you are trying to use stats to prove something they don't actually prove to justify a conclusion that violates the eye test of almost everyone who watches the team. However, if your eyes are honestly telling you the Indy line is good and you are trying to justify that conclusion numerically, I have more patience for your argument (though I disagree with it).

You make the assumption that QB only affects 'long sacks' and the line controls 'quick sacks'.

Rather, I believe the data shows clearly that Manning takes almost no 'long sacks' (one in a league leading number of attempts). The fact that almost every sack he takes is a 'quick sack', but that there are by percentage fewer of those than for other quarterbacks still doesn't prove the Indy line is good. It merely shows Manning is as good at avoiding quick sacks as he is at long sacks.

The fact is that QBs are more responsible for sack rate than the line is. While we all agree the line is MORE responsible for quicker sacks, I think it's a stretch to say they are completely responsible for preventing quicker sacks. That chart essentially shows, that if a team wants to get to Manning, they had better do it quickly. Even if the line does fail however, Manning will still get rid of the ball more often than not.

Having watched the team, Manning typically releases the ball so quickly that even a 'quick sack' isn't possible.

I never proposed that such a stat would convince me. I proposed that almost every sack Manning takes is the fault of the offensive line. The fact that they allow fewer of them by percentage than other teams is again, a function of Manning and not of the pass blockers.

Ultimately ASR proves nothing at all about the quality of a line.

30
by nat :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 1:20pm

I do watch them occassionally, but not religiously. What my "eyes" tell me is that Manning is seldom forced to throw the ball away in under 3 seconds and is so good at reading the field that he never has to take a "slow" sack. About once a game he takes a quick sack, which, considering how often he drops back, is pretty damned good.

If you (not you personally) want a line to be physically dominant and to hold one-on-one blocks for five seconds while slow and complex pass routes develop, you are going to be disappointed in the Colts. If you want a reliable 3+ seconds to throw and few mistakes, they seem to be quite effective. The stats back me up. Conventional wisdom and the chattering classes don't, I am aware. But part of why I read FO is that stats often are right while the chattering classes cling to "run to win" based on what their "eyes" tell them.

My position is not so absolute as you suppose. QBs have some influence on quick sacks, just as lines have some influence on slow ones. But I personally find it unlikely in the extreme that the Colts line has gone from great at pass protection to terrible, but somehow Manning has simultaneously gone from bad to great at avoiding quick sacks to more than balance their decline. My "eyes" tell me that Manning is no better or worse at avoiding the rush than he was 4-7 years ago. The scheme and timing have changed a bit - some for the better and some not.

Finally, I am not surprised that you are backing away so fast from the quick sack statistic that you introduced into the discussion. But your logic is broken. I wholehearted agree that almost every sack that Manning took was not his fault. Who cares? Those sacks only happen 1.9% of the plays, thanks to the statistically excellent play of his line (and running backs, and coaches, and receivers making the right reads, and yes, thanks to the QB himself - just like every OL in the league).

31
by Nate Dunlevy :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 2:16pm

"But I personally find it unlikely in the extreme that the Colts line has gone from great at pass protection to terrible, but somehow Manning has simultaneously gone from bad to great at avoiding quick sacks to more than balance their decline"

I agree, Manning is no better at avoiding the rush than 4-5 years ago. He just didn't have to do it as often. He's just as good as he was, but it's a skill he uses more frequently.

He did improve over where he was back in 2005. Most point to the 2005 offseason as the moment when Manning made his final adjustment in the pocket and became more adept at throwing on the run. That was when Manning took the final leap and became extraordinary difficult to sack regardless of protection. This was in response to the 2005 loss to the Steelers when he famously said, "we had some protection problems". This was on full display in the Indy NE game in 2006 (especially the long first quarter completion to Harrison) as well as the long TD pass to Wayne in the Super Bowl that year. It was a new dynamic to his game that was not present to the same degree before the 2006 season.

Notably, Pro Bowl tackle Tarik Glenn retired after the 2006 season, heralding the degradation of the Indy line. No one noticed right away, however, because Manning had made a massive leap forward. So what you find implausible is historically exactly what happened. Manning got better right at the exact moment the Indy line started to fall apart. (By the way, I discuss this thoroughly in my book).

I'm not backing away from the quick sack stat. You didn't use it as I intended. I brought it up only to support the previous stat that QBs are more responsible for sack rate. My whole point was that it showed that Manning never takes long sacks. I never said it argued that the line was solely responsible for quick sacks.

YOU said that and I don't accept it.

I'm not backing off anything. Manning's 'sack times' are among the shortest in the league. That tells me something about Manning, not the Indy line.

I don't see any data you've presented that says anything about the Indy line. At no time did I ever concede that sack time was a valid measure of line play.

What's happening here is that you are proposing a theory that runs against informed knowledge (which is fine). However, your only statistical support does nothing to actually prove your theory and only tells us that Manning is great at avoiding sacks.

36
by nat :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 4:13pm

FYI: It turns out that slow sack rates and quick sack rates are essentially uncorrelated. Being good at avoiding sacks that take more than 3 seconds says almost nothing about your (team's) ability to avoid the quick ones. They are two mostly independent skills.

My guess is that the one that involves making sure that everyone gets blocked is almost all about smart blocking. The one that involves sustaining one-on-one blocks, hitting the open receiver, throwing the ball away when no one is open, and moving in the pocket is not all about smart blocking, but is about other things, too, many of which the QB has a big effect on. But that's just logic talking.

32
by tuluse :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 3:09pm

The Colts line isn't terrible at pass pro. The Bears line is terrible at pass pro. The Colts line just below average. However, when your team is built around Peyton Manning, this is a terrible idea.

34
by Bobman :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 3:14pm

I'll accept that. Colts OL is like a car seatbelt made of duct tape. Darn, that stuff can be strong, and it can do most anything you need it to do in a pinch. But it's not a "real" seatbelt and do you really want it protecting your life in a high-speed collision?

And the Bears OL...? Over-cooked lasagne noodles? A really bad idea in any accident.

hey, I'm getting huungry--hope I find the pasta before the duct tape.

35
by nat :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 3:45pm

The Bears OL gave up a quick sack more than 6% of dropbacks. Egads! Only the Panthers did worse. Lasagne is too good for them.

42
by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 7:04pm

Another note, and this is purely anecdotal:

Does anyone else think that Manning has slowed down his passes in 2009-10, throwing timing routes earlier, and replacing holding time with "air time"? I started thinking about this after watching a replay (during the 2010 season) of the Tracy Porter SB pick, but the real thing to watch is the 2010 games where Manning had a lot of attempts against teams with a pass rush: KC, Philly, etc.

He's never been a fastball thrower (and his most impressive passes have never been about arm strength, not that he's short of it - the most impressive NFL pass I've ever seen was a lob to Marvin Harrison for a touchdown, might have been the 2005 Baltimore season opener - as perfect an example of coordination between QB and WR as has ever been accomplished), but there were a lot of really floaty balls in 2009-2010, which I think is a result of trying to release not only quicker, but earlier.

24
by Bobman :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 1:15am

Where's Stan when we need him? He's been trashing (I'm sorry, I mean giving brutally honest feedback to) that OL since Tarik Glenn was in diapers. In 03/04/05 I kept telling him no, no, no. Then I started to come around to his point of view.

27
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 9:57am

Allow this fan of a divisional rival to join the chorus of those saying that the Colts line used to be reasonably good (though never as good as it was widely reckoned to be) and is now absolutely freakin' terrible. Glenn's gone, Scott's gone, Lilja's gone, Diem's severely declined, and (prior to this draft, at least) Pollak is the only remotely adequate replacement for any of them. ASR just isn't giving an accurate impression here.

33
by Bobman :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 3:10pm

How dare you put down my team! Even when agreeing with me! This, sir, requires a duel! Or, failing that, a game of horse shoes. I'll throw Ryan Diem's helmet, with him in it.

What FO charting needs to do is generate (maybe they do in premium?), in additoin to QB hits stats, RB hit behind the line stats. All those one-yard gains he gets are really four yards after initial contact: Joe Addai, your bust in Canton is waiting. (/hyperbole)

37
by Independent George :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 5:07pm

Hey, that's how Floyd Little got in!

38
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 7:48pm

It bothers me greatly as a Broncos fan that two of the four Broncos in the Hall of Fame are undeserving (Little definitely so). Especially while Gradishar, Atwater, Mecklenberg, and Tombstone Jackson aren't in and Tom Nalen and Matt Lepsis have no chance in hell of getting in.

39
by Aaron Brooks' Good Twin (not verified) :: Fri, 05/13/2011 - 8:56am

If rushing yardage was based on yards gained after first contact with the defense, Barry Sanders would have averaged 7 yards per carry instead of 5.

41
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 05/13/2011 - 1:16pm

Done. I'll throw Kareem Jackson. I admit I'm only speculating that he wears osmium horse shoes, but it's the best explanation I've yet come up with for his remarkable coverage "skills". The only reason the Colts lost in Reliant last year was that he leant Garcon a pair to wear on his hands.

21
by tuluse :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 7:23pm

Finally, you cite Manning's increased interception rate as evidence that his line is doing a poor job protecting him?!? Could it be Manning being asked to do too much and forcing the ball? Could it be his receivers, widely believed to be weaker than 2003-2007? Could it be the increased emphasis on passing, to the point where defenses can almost ignore the run? Could it be a change in passing scheme?

All those things are possible, just as it's possible that the Colt's ASR didn't increase despite the line getting worse.

17
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 05/11/2011 - 4:37pm

The lack of correlation between those two statistics can also mean that adjusted sack rate is heavily affected by the quarterback, which could allow a team to have a great adjusted sack rate as a result of the quarterback rather than the line.

25
by sam_acw (not verified) :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 3:03am

Am I the only one who despairs at the Texans. Almost every year they draft a d-line player and almost every year it changes nothing.5 of their 11 first round picks have been DL players.
This year they are taking their best, when healthy, DE and moving the 295lb Mario Williams to LB.
Their coach is even talking about it being more of a 5-2 defence which will surely put more pressure on the secondary, most escpecially the safeties.

28
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 05/12/2011 - 10:09am

First off, only four of them have been defensive linemen - Johnson, Williams, Okoye and Watt. Babin was drafted to play 3-4 OLB. Second, one of those four was drafted this year, so it seems a little harsh to blame him for failing to change anything. The two defensive linemen drafted in the first round by the current regime (more-or-less) have been one clear hit and one disappointment-but-not-total-bust. That doesn't scream "horrible drafting" to me. The main problem with the Texans defense since at least 2005 has not been the defensive line, which, while unlikely to be confused with the Fearsome Foursome has at least been mostly adequate-ish; it's been the absolutely God-awful secondary. Of all the defensive backs drafted in any round by the Texans since their formation, only Dunta Robinson and Glover Quinn don't completely suck, and the only really good veteran acquisition was Aaron Glenn. That's been the reason for the Texans' lousy defense, and absent some big-time free agency moves it will be again in 2011.

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by Shake (not verified) :: Fri, 05/13/2011 - 12:38pm

I don't agree with offensive playmaker as one of the Colts most pressing needs right now. It's not that there aren't lots of questions about the current group, it's just that there are a lot of potential answers. When the Colts had an extremely unusual number of injuries to their skill position players, they didn't field a very good group of them, and the offense suffered. If that happens again they'll be in need of another playmaker, but it's not all that likely to.

Of course if you had said the magic words of "2012 and on", I'd be with you since Wayne, Garçon, Tamme and Gonzalez are all free agents after this season.

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by commissionerleaf :: Wed, 05/18/2011 - 7:09pm

The receiver situation is a matter of health, I agree. I think they almost have to part ways with Wayne at this point; resigning 32 year olds isn't the Colts way if they aren't named Manning. Garcon, Gonzalez, and Tamme still have a lot to prove (Gonzalez mostly needs to prove he can at least survive the rigors of the NFL gridiron LONG ENOUGH TO BE HIT BY SOMEONE, let alone the hit itself).

Blair White makes a great defensive back.