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» 2017 Defensive Personnel Analysis

Defenses have taken a wide variety of responses to the rise of 11 personnel. Is any one system better than another? And how has the rise of the "moneybacker" changed defensive philosophy?

14 Dec 2016

Scramble for the Ball: Casually Dressed...

by Bryan Knowles and Andrew Potter

Bryan: Welcome back to Scramble, where we're holding a moment of silence for the loss of Jeff Fisher as a regular punching bag.

Andrew: May he forever coach the most mediocre team in the unemployment league.

Bryan: You would think the Rams would have been better this year, what with the first overall pick playing quarterback for them. Wasn't Jared Goff supposed to be the final piece that turned Los Angeles' offense around?

Andrew: Was he really? Citation needed.

Bryan: Well, you'd bloody well hope so after the king's ransom they gave up to trade and go grab him. Has any team gotten less out of their 2016 draft class than Los Angeles? Has anyone heard from Tyler Higbee or Pharoh Cooper or anyone? That's a great haul to bring in when you're rebuilding your team in a new city.

Andrew: The Vikings draft class didn't exactly light up the league either, though they are at least still a playoff contender due to some great previous classes.

Bryan: Yeah, Minnesota and Arizona are down there with mediocre classes, but man, the Rams really stand out to me. And it's not like this was a weak year for rookies, either.

Andrew: Nor for rookie quarterbacks, for that matter. Yes, Goff had a bad year, but Carson Wentz, Jacoby Brissett, and Cody Kessler all made contributions to their respective franchises' seasons, to say nothing of a certain silver-helmed, blue-starred, fourth-round pick down in Dallas.

Bryan: From first-round stars to undrafted gems, there has been a pretty good influx of talent into the league this year -- which, frankly, the league needed after losing players like Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson this offseason.

Andrew: All of which is a typically long-winded way to introduce the topic of this week's conversation: yes, it's the Scramble for the Ball All-Rookie Team. Which differs from all other all-rookie teams by virtue of the fact that we're the ones picking it!

Bryan: Two rookie Scramble writers making a rookie team. It makes far too much sense to ever possibly work!

Andrew: A few quick notes, before we get to talking about the players: we're going all modern and stuff on offense, and running 11 personnel -- that's one back, one tight end, and three receivers in addition to the quarterback and the offensive line.

Bryan: Apologies to those of you rooting for Andy Janovich as an all-rookie fullback.

Andrew: How DARE you assume we're picking Janovich over Derek Watt?!

Bryan: On defense, we're going with a 3-4 formation, because that's where the talent seemed to fall this year. We're also ignoring the NFL-approved division of players into "defensive linemen," "defensive ends," "outside linebackers," and "inside linebackers," and just going with three interior linemen, two edge-rushers and two linebackers. This better reflects how players are actually used in the NFL today, and lets us slide a few 4-3 players into slightly different positions.

Andrew: Bending the official designations to suit the desired outcome? In the NFL? Preposterous!

Bryan: Speaking of preposterous, here's our All-Rookie starting lineup.


Bryan: Just to go through the motions...why, Andrew, whomever do you think should be our quarterback?

Andrew: Kevin Hogan, Cleveland Browns.

Bryan: While Hoganmania briefly ran wild, I'm thinking we can do a little better than that.

Andrew: Who, then? Tanner McEvoy? Riley Dixon?

Bryan: First overall pick Jared Goff? No, of course we're selecting Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys. While calls have come for him to be benched after a subpar performance against the Giants -- how dare a fourth-round draft pick look like a rookie? -- Prescott legitimately worked his way into the MVP discussion, and is a big reason the Cowboys look locked in for home-field advantage. Fair play to Carson Wentz, who hasn't looked too bad with a much worse supporting cast, but any pick other than Prescott is folly.

Running Back

Andrew: I'll stop being silly for a minute and seriously state that we're taking Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys as our all-rookie running back. Jordan Howard has been great for Chicago and Rob Kelley looks like a real find for Washington, but Elliott looks like the best back in the entire league, never mind merely the best rookie.

Bryan: Sometimes, the guy everyone says is going to be the best running back in a class turns out to be, in fact, the best running back in the class. While drafting running backs fourth overall is not recommended as a long-term strategy, there are exceptions who prove the rule. It simply doesn't seem fair that the Cowboys managed to find both Prescott and Elliott in one draft class, does it? Elliott's the top back in DYAR, and Prescott's the third-best quarterback.

Andrew: Either player on his own would be one of the better picks of the past ten years for Dallas. To get both in one draft is nuts.

Bryan: As a long-time 49ers fan, I think I speak for most of the rest of the league when I say "dang."

Wide Receivers

Andrew: Wide receiver is a more interesting conversation, at least once we get past the top two. I feel safe in picking Michael Thomas, New Orleans as the top receiver from this draft class, even with the obvious homerism implications.

Bryan: What's the point of picking a team if you can't place your team's guys on it? It helps that Thomas is second in DYAR -- plenty of other rookies get to play for good quarterbacks, but few produce like Thomas has. Thomas leads all rookies with 14 missed tackles, a tribute to his phenomenal athleticism. Would he be as good as he is without Drew Brees throwing him the ball? Maybe not, but Brees trusts him and his big, sure hands. He has become Brees' favorite receiver, leading the team with 69 catches, which says a lot for his early production.

Our second obvious pick is Tyreek Hill, Kansas City, who has given the Chiefs something they thought only existed in legends -- a wideout threat.

Andrew: He's more than just a receiving threat, though. He's a threat to score every time he touches the ball -- slants, deep balls, jet sweeps, end arounds, and in the return game too. He's the first player to have a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown, punt return touchdown, and kick return touchdown in the same season since Gayle Sayers. I can honestly say that in my fairly narrow Sunday viewing preferences, Hill is the player who has provided more entertainment and excitement this season than any other, and I have been saying all season that if he keeps his head on straight, he is going to be a star. That's not a guarantee, of course, but the random luck of injury aside, right now the only thing that can keep Tyreek Hill from being great is Tyreek Hill.

Bryan: That brings us to our third pick, and there's more of an argument to be had between Tyler Boyd and Sterling Shepard. Boyd's leading in DYAR, but Shepard has been part of a much better team, and contributed to the Giants' probable playoff run. Do we go with our numbers, or the more successful team?

Andrew: It doesn't help that both line up across from one of the league's top receivers, too, in A.J. Green and Odell Beckham. I think Shepard is the more rounded, more talented of the two receivers, and is the clear second receiver in New York. Boyd is really the third or fourth option in Cincinnati behind Green and Tyler Eifert, who admittedly have both been hurt at various points this season.

Bryan: You've sold me -- we'll go with Sterling Shepard, New York Giants as our third guy. No mention of any of the top three picks, by the by -- Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, or Josh Doctson. Value was found later!

Tight End

Andrew: Tight end's another obvious pick, I think. Antonio Gates has been on the downside of his career for several years now, and the Chargers finally appear to have his replacement taken care of with the acquisition of Hunter Henry. I was skeptical about Henry early in the year, but no longer: he has become a reliable target for Philip Rivers, and looks like a terrific player for the Chargers for years to come as long as he can stay on the field. Austin Hooper gets an honorable mention, but Henry's the clear choice.

Bryan: No argument here; Henry may be in the lesser part of a committee with Gates at the moment, but he seems primed to take over the starting role when Gates finally does hang 'em up. Henry's numbers have gone down as Gates has come on strong down the stretch, but it won't be long before we're talking about Henry as San Diego's next great tight end.

Offensive Line

Andrew: There is a bit more argument to be had on the offensive line, though the right side just about picks itself. New England guard Joe Thuney has been a key contributor in helping the team recover from last year's disastrous situation, playing more snaps than any other Patriots lineman. Titans right tackle Jack Conklin is already being heralded by some as one of the best right tackles in the league, despite spending his entire college career on the opposite end of the line. A lot of people underestimate the difficulty of the transition from left tackle to right, but Conklin has handled it expertly.

Bryan: We had to hash out the left side a little more aggressively, though. We ended up settling on Taylor Decker, Detroit over Ronnie Stanley at left tackle. Decker has played every snap at left tackle for the Lions this season, and has improved from week to week, getting noticeably better as he has gotten more experience taking on NFL rushers. He is a significant reason why the Lions have been able to survive so many heart-pounding close games this year; Stafford can't bring his team back if he's flat on his back! We stuck with Laremy Tunsil, Miami at left guard, just pipping out Spencer Drango. Drango gets the benefit of playing next to Joe Thomas, but Tunsil might already be the best lineman Miami has to offer. Soon enough, he'll move out to tackle (he has started there already this season when Branden Albert couldn't go), where his pass protection skills will do Miami well for a long time.

Then, there's center...

Andrew: … at which we disagreed over Cody Whitehair of Chicago and Ryan Kelly, Indianapolis. In the end we settled on Kelly, already one of the best players on the Colts offense and definitely a lineman who does not get the benefit of playing alongside excellence every week. (Which, of course, Whitehair does not either, with all of Chicago's best linemen injured.) The Colts rank first by our offensive line numbers on runs up the middle, and second by stuff rate, and I feel confident in asserting that Denzelle Good is not the reason why. Add that Kelly is one of the best pass blockers on the team, and the top overall pick for the Colts has a great chance to be the Jeff Saturday to Andrew Luck's Peyton Manning.

Bryan: I'm sorry, Chicago fans. I argued hard for Whitehair. Switching to center just before the regular season began and being one of the few consistent players on a Chicago line that is second in power success impressed me. I may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome from watching so many Bears games, however, and I know better than to get between a man and his offensive line crush.

Interior Linemen

Andrew: On the defensive line, it's Bryan's chance to plug a player from his favorite team!

Bryan: Watching 49ers football has not been a happy experience this season, but you can't blame their top pick. DeForest Buckner has been one of the few bright spots, playing more snaps than any other rookie interior linemen in the league and flashing the pass-rushing talent that led the 49ers to ignore their obvious offensive issues and grab their second consecutive first-round lineman from Oregon.

Andrew: Our other two defensive linemen likewise needed little debate. Michael Pierce, Baltimore is a key component of what our numbers peg as a truly great run defense, and he edges out Jarran Reed of Seattle and Javon Hargrave of Pittsburgh for our defensive tackle spot. At left defensive end, Chris Jones, Kansas City has emerged in the second half of the season to become one of the more dynamic interior linemen in the game. Our numbers don't like the Chiefs defense as much as conventional wisdom does, but Jones is putting in the kind of recent performances that could make even spreadsheets sit up and take notice.


Bryan: Obviously, Joey Bosa, San Diego gets one of these two slots. While the third overall pick didn't see the field until Week 5 thanks to a contract dispute and a hamstring injury, he has been devastating ever since he actually started playing football. He has 6.5 sacks in nine games, and has been a key player in San Diego's solid rush defense as well. He's your Defensive Rookie of the Year, so of course he makes our team, even if he's not technically a 3-4 rush linebacker. I'm sure he'll do just fine, though.

Andrew: At the other pass-rusher spot, I get to make up for depriving fans of Cody Whitehair by inserting outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, Chicago. Floyd's seven sacks lead all rookies, and he has both a safety and a sack/fumble/recovery touchdown to his name, the latter against none other than Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Chicago's defense won't be confused with the Lovie Smith Bears anytime soon, much less the '85 Bears, but it's a whole lot better than last year's and Floyd is one of the major reasons why.


Andrew: Before Joey Bosa got on the field, Jatavis Brown, San Diego was an early contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year on a Chargers defense that many expected to be among the league's worst in 2016. He's as close to an automatic pick as we have at inside linebacker. The other spot, however, we debated quite extensively.

Bryan: How much do you value consistency versus highlights? Deion Jones, Atlanta was the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month in September, starting out as hot as anyone in the league with 20 solo tackles and a key pick-six against New Orleans back in Week 3. Since then, however, he has slowed down a bit, to the point where he's rotating snaps with LaRoy Reynolds more than he was at the beginning of the season -- especially thanks to a lack of physicality in the run game. That molten hot start has kept him in the lead among rookie linebackers in pretty much every counting stat the NFL tracks, however, and so he's our guy, over the more consistent but less dynamic Su'a Cravens in Washington.

Defensive Backs

Andrew: This is probably the least clear-cut section of all, as around a dozen players have legitimate claims to being one of, if not the best rookies at their position. We eventually resolved our interminable arguing here by picking a cornerback and a safety each, of which my picks were Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville, and Keanu Neal, Atlanta. Ramsey is an arguable pick as a good player on a bad team, but the defense is absolutely not the biggest problem in Jacksonville and Ramsey has been one of the better players on their roster from the first moment he stepped onto the field. He's already flashing the ability that made him a prize pick at the top of the draft, and has a chance to be the kind of cover player around whom you can build a defense. As for Neal, he has gone into a difficult situation on one of the league's least-talented defenses and immediately set about leading all rookies in tackles from his starting strong safety spot. Atlanta's defense is far from the best in the league, but Neal should be one of the pieces around whom the Falcons look to build as they return to the top of the NFC South.

Bryan: My picks were Tavon Young, Baltimore and Andrew Adams, New York Giants. Young is undersized at just 5-foot-9, but he has very good ball skills -- seven passes defensed, two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and a phenomenal 63 percent success rate in coverage, not to mention the return of a blocked extra point for a score. Baltimore has gotten tremendous production out of its rookie class, and Young might be my favorite of the bunch. Adams is a reminder that you don't need to be drafted to produce. He started the season on the practice squad, but injuries quickly moved him into a starting safety role, where he has quickly earned the confidence of his coaching staff and teammates, and proven to be quite the diamond in the rough.

Andrew: As for our lengthy debate, honorable mentions go to Karl Joseph, Vonn Bell, Vernon Hargreaves, Jalen Mills, Artie Burns, Rashard Robinson, James Bradberry, and Eli Apple. There's no way we could have picked four and not left off a worthy candidate.

Special Teams

Andrew: Kicker is a straight-up kicking contest between Roberto Aguayo of Tampa Bay and Wil Lutz of New Orleans. No other rookie has attempted a field goal this year. Lutz has three more made kicks in two more attempts, and is better from every range except 30-to-39 yards, where each has two misses. Aguayo, though, has significantly more value on kickoffs, despite Lutz being the one who plays home games in a dome. In true soccer fashion, I think this one should be decided by penalty kicks, but really it's probably down to whatever happens in the last three weeks of the season. For now, by virtue of his superior value on kickoffs making up for his inferior field goal performance, I'll go with Roberto Aguayo, Tampa Bay.

Bryan: There have been three rookie punters with regular work this year -- Riley Dixon in Denver, Lac Edwards of the New York Jets, and Drew Kaser in San Diego. Dixon does get the benefit of punting in the thin atmosphere a mile above sea level, but he's also the most effective rookie punter -- ever. His 41.4 net punting average tops any rookie mark ever set. That number isn't the end-all be-all of stats, but Denver also has a positive punting score in our special teams metrics, and Dixon has placed 20 punts inside the 20-yard line so far this year. We're therefore going with Riley Dixon, Denver on this one.

That's our team! What do you think, Andrew -- ignore, for the moment, that it has no depth whatsoever. They would beat quite a few actual NFL teams, wouldn't they?

Andrew: That's even more debatable than the selections themselves! There's a lot to be said for experience. There's a lot to be said for these 24 players too, however, and the experience will be there soon enough.

Bryan: It's a surprisingly deep class, though I think it's better on the offensive side of the ball. The second-team offense would be a strong one, as well. On defense, there's a lot of potential and a lot of developing guys there, but I think they'd get outclassed by most regular NFL offenses. For now, at least.

Loser League Update

Quarterback: A pair of quarterbacks struggled their way to just five points this week. Ben Roethlisberger can blame it on the snowy conditions in Buffalo, as he threw three interceptions. Derek Carr has no such weather-related excuse, limited to just 117 yards passing against a tough Kansas City defense.

Running Back: Terron Ward is buried rather deep on the Atlanta depth chart, but when you're rolling to a major victory, everyone gets playing time. That let Ward carry 10 times for just 24 yards, good for 2 points and your last-place result.

Wide Receiver: Dez Bryant is not a common visitor to the Loser League section, but he did not have a good day at all against New York. He was held without a reception for most of the night, and when he finally did get his hands on the ball, late in the fourth quarter, he fumbled. That's good for minus-1 points, and a day to forget.

Kicker: Speaking of days to forget, Chandler Catanzaro, come on down! You're the next contestant on "Terrible Kicking 2016!" Catanzaro missed two extra points and a field goal, resulting in a score of minus-9. That's not the worst score of the year, but it's sure close. Three other kickers -- Dan Carpenter, Mike Nugent, and Dan Bailey -- also ended up in negative points.


Keep Choppin' Wood: By most accounts, when the Patriots used their top 2016 draft pick on cornerback Cyrus Jones, one of the major factors in that decision was Jones' value on "fourth down"; his value as a punt returner, primarily. That has not exactly worked out for New England, and Jones had his biggest gaffe of the season on Monday night. With the game seemingly well in hand for the Patriots, the Ravens punted in the direction of Jones, who made no attempt to field the ball. Rather than getting away from it entirely, however, Jones got just close enough for the ball to strike his outstretched (!) left foot before it continued on its way downfield.

Chris Moore recovered the muff at New England's 3-yard line, and two plays later Flacco threw to Darren Waller for Baltimore's first touchdown of the game. Definitely not the smiliest moment for Cyrus.

John Fox Award for Conservatism: It may be our last chance to celebrate him for a long, long while, so let's give one final conservatism award to now-former Rams coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher tied the record for most regular-season losses by a head coach in NFL history with Sunday's blowout defeat to the Atlanta Falcons and, as Vince Verhei noted in our website's extra point, the six-touchdown rout meant the Falcons have scored more touchdowns in Los Angeles this season (six) than the Rams have (five) despite playing there only once. Also, in true Fisher fashion, he looked certain to win the title of most regular-season losses ever, but ultimately had to settle for a tie. Special teams coach John Fassel has been appointed the interim coach, with no word yet public concerning his feelings about possibly ending up 7-9.

Mike Martz Award for Confusing Coaching: If I had to pick my favorite play in football, it would be the flea flicker. It's such a ridiculous boom-or-bust play that I can't help but cheer whenever I see a team attempt it -- anything involving throwing the ball multiple times is trick play gold. However, it might be best to not attempt such a play in the shadow of your own goal posts. In the snow. With a throw into triple-coverage.

Hue Jackson, burn this play.

"Runnin' Down a Dream" Fantasy Player of the Week: No huge surprises this week, so we'll turn to Bryce Petty, under the theory that no one out there was starting a New York Jets quarterback in 2016. After a rough start, though, Petty played well in leading a come-from-behind victory on the road, with 257 yards and a key two-point conversion. His 8-for-12 performance in overtime didn't hurt, either, assuming you were one of the very, very few people who opted to start Petty this week.

Jon Snow (We Know Nothing) Lock of the Week

Once again this year, all picks are made without reference to FO's Premium picks, while all lines are courtesy of Bovada and were accurate as of time of writing.

Bryan: Had you told me Philadelphia would be down to their third-string long snapper, I would have gone elsewhere with my pick! Alas, injuries are part of the game, and so we must carry on.

I'm going to go with another underdog, and take Cincinnati (plus-3.5) at home versus Pittsburgh. Cincinnati didn't do too terribly against Pittsburgh back in Week 2 -- albeit, that was a Pittsburgh without Le'Veon Bell. They had one of their top performances of the season -- 28.3% DVOA in an eight-point road loss. Move the game to Cincinnati, and take into account that the Bengals are on a two-game winning streak, and that Ben Roethlisberger is coming off one of his worst days ever, and I smell… a close game, though maybe not the full upset.

Andrew: I'm taking what I consider to be low-hanging fruit. Very, very low-hanging fruit. Yes, Jeff Fisher is gone, but giving the Rams 15 points at Seattle seems excessive given the history between these two. Seattle isn't exactly playing vintage Seahawks football, and even when they are they have trouble with the Rams, so expecting them to cover a 15-point spread might be asking too much unless the Rams really have quit entirely. I'll trust that they haven't, give John Fassel the benefit of not being Jeff Fisher, and take Los Angeles (plus-15) at Seattle.

Records so far:
Bryan: 7-5-1
Andrew: 3-8-2


While the NFC remains very competitive up and down the wild card race, the AFC has really become a three-horse race for one open wild card slot between Denver, Miami and the Pittsburgh/Baltimore runner-up. That means we're writing off a couple more AFC teams this week, whose limp performances in must-win games pretty much have put them out of the running.

The Buffalo Bills may be playing in a frozen arctic wasteland, but they at least have nice warm seats underneath head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Those nice, warm seats were provided in part by Le'Veon Bell, who scorched the Bills to the tune of 298 yards from scrimmage. This happened on a day when the Steelers couldn't get anything going in the passing game, so all the Bills and defensive genius Ryan had to do was stop one running back. They couldn't do it, and they saw their playoff chances really go up in smoke. Your faithful Scramble reporter is in Buffalo this weekend, so I'll get a better idea of what's going on first-hand -- and maybe I'll be around to take the head coaching job should Buffalo somehow hand Cleveland its first win of the season.

The Indianapolis Colts, meanwhile, had a golden opportunity to make a major statement in the AFC South race with a win over the Houston Texans. They made a statement alright, and that statement is "we're toast." A win would have put them in first place in the division, with tiebreakers over the Tennessee Titans. Instead, they have fallen to third place in the division, with tough road trips to Minnesota and Oakland still to come. They came up flat in their biggest game of the year, so they're toast.

That would imply that we're giving the Texans the division, as we have declared the other three teams dead -- but the Tennessee Titans have become your zombie team of the year. Since we declared them dead three weeks ago, they have gone 2-0, while the rest of the division has gone 2-7. While Houston will probably still win the division, Tennessee's quite nimble for a corpse.

And, in a related story, here's what my experience watching the Bills this week will be like:

The Bears and Rams were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week, while the Panthers, Chargers, and Bengals bought themselves some more time. More teams can get knocked out this week:

  • Philadelphia is eliminated with a loss to Baltimore, or a win by Green Bay, Minnesota, or Atlanta.
  • Arizona is eliminated with a loss to New Orleans or wins by all of Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta.
  • Cincinnati is eliminated with a loss to Pittsburgh, or a win by Baltimore and a win by either Miami or Denver.
  • Buffalo is eliminated with a Denver win, or a loss to Cleveland plus a win by either Miami or Baltimore.
  • Green Bay is eliminated with a loss to Chicago and wins by Detroit, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and Washington.
  • Minnesota is eliminated with a loss to Indianapolis and wins by Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and either the New York Giants or Washington.
  • San Diego is eliminated with a loss to Oakland, or a win by either Miami or Denver, or wins by both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
  • Indianapolis is eliminated with a loss to Minnesota and a win by either Tennessee or Houston and a win by one of Miami, Baltimore, or Denver.
  • Carolina is eliminated with a loss to Washington; or wins by both Tampa Bay and Atlanta; or wins by Green Bay, Minnesota and one of New Orleans, Atlanta or Tampa Bay.
  • New Orleans is eliminated with a loss to Arizona; or two wins by a combination of Atlanta, Washington, and Tampa Bay; or wins by Green Bay, Minnesota, and either Tampa Bay or Atlanta.

Football Outsiders doesn't answer fantasy questions on Twitter, so if you don't have a Premium subscription and access to the 24-hour Fantasy Answering Service, the Scramble mailbag is one way to get a Football Outsiders answer to your fantasy questions! Email us with fantasy questions, award suggestions, crazy videos, outlandish conspiracy theories, surgically repaired ACLs, and other assorted flotsam and jetsam at scramble@footballoutsiders.com.

Posted by: Bryan Knowles and Andrew Potter on 14 Dec 2016

19 comments, Last at 15 Dec 2016, 3:46pm by Bryan Knowles


by RickD :: Wed, 12/14/2016 - 3:20pm

"There is a bit more argument to be had on the offensive line, though the right side just about picks itself. New England guard Joe Thuney has been a key contributor in helping the team recover from last year's disastrous situation, playing more snaps than any other Patriots lineman. "

Thuney plays on the left side.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 12/14/2016 - 4:58pm


by nickd46 :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 8:21am

I for one admire your innovative approach, going with 11 personnel and a constantly unbalanced line. That was your intention, yes?

by Andrew Potter :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 9:29am

We're nothing if not unconventional.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Wed, 12/14/2016 - 3:21pm

"Vernon Hargreaves has been solid in coverage, and Noah Spence is showing some pass rush ability . . . I wonder if any Bucs made their rookie team GOD MOTHER@#$!!!! AGUAYO".

Sorry. Blacked out there for a moment. Did I miss anything? Like, say, a make-able field goal?

by Bryan Knowles :: Wed, 12/14/2016 - 3:33pm

I'm pretty sure this reaction is specifically why Andrew opted for Aguayo over Lutz.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 12/14/2016 - 4:41pm

I genuinely had to resist the urge to add IN THE ARTICLE BODY "... plus I want to see if I can make MilkmanDanimal's head explode."

This is exactly the reaction I expected. I have tears streaming down my face, I'm laughing so hard.

On a serious note, Lutz's field goal/extra point kicking has cost the Saints a couple of games too, and he's close to being an actual liability on kickoffs.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 11:07am

Suffice to say, you're not the only one to have trolled me on Aguayo; not that I want to encourage him more, but . . .


This week's NFL thread over on my usual online home, Gamers With Jobs. A lengthy, long-running, honestly kind of sad post on the post-NFl lives of various ex-Bucs kickers. It's apparently what a Jaguars/49ers fan has to do to keep warm these days.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:24pm

That article you linked is great. Here are my takeaways:

1)What the Gramatica brothers are doing is actually kind of noble, in a Gramatica sort of way.

2)Who knew that a "kicking consultancy" was actually a thing? I learn something new every day.

3)I had totally forgotten that Donald Igwebuike attempted, unsuccessfully, to become the Walter White of former Tampa Bay kickers.

4)I look forward to checking in on what Roberto Aguayo is up to 5 years from now, when he's out of the league.

by xMRNUTTYx :: Wed, 12/14/2016 - 3:42pm

"I'm sorry, Chicago fans. I argued hard for Whitehair. Switching to center just before the regular season began and being one of the few consistent players on a Chicago line that is second in power success impressed me."

That's underplaying it: they moved Whitehair to center the Monday prior to their first game. And on an offensive line that only excels at run blocking and getting hurt, he's been absolutely their best player. Hell, outside of Howard, I would say he's their best offensive player period.

"Chicago's defense won't be confused with the Lovie Smith Bears anytime soon, much less the '85 Bears, but it's a whole lot better than last year's and Floyd is one of the major reasons why."

If Floyd continues progressing, I believe you're looking at a DPOY candidate in a few years. He's outright flubbed a handful of sacks already this year, which I would hope experience would help allow him to finish. You see him every where on the field. He's great in pursuit of runners and I haven't noticed him be blocked completely out of the play much since he came back from his injury. A few times he's been tasked with covering a WR and it hasn't been a colossal mistake. I wasn't high on the pick and his injuries and lack of production early on didn't make me happy. But I think Fangio's comparison to Aldon Smith may not look so strange in coming years.

by Shylo :: Wed, 12/14/2016 - 6:31pm

I was hoping Kevin Byard would get some kind of recognition but it's probably fair not to include him, but I think he'll be tearing up the league in the future (I hope!). I'm a double homer for him, being a Titans fan and MTSU alum.

That said, I resent the notion that the Titans are zombies. They have more life than any other AFCS team. I just wish they had taken care of business in the division, else it'd be game, set, match, already.

by Bryan Knowles :: Wed, 12/14/2016 - 7:06pm

The Zombie Team phenomenon might require a bit more explanation.

It seems like every year, there's a team that gets pretty much written off that bounces back into contention. Last year, it was the Kansas City Chiefs -- they started 1-5 and pretty much everyone wrote them off, then they did nothing but win the rest of the way. They were a team most people declared "dead" at 1-5, and yet there they were, living on into the postseason. Zombie team!

It looked for a while like the Chargers would be this year's zombie team, but nope -- Tennessee's now up ahead of Houston in our playoff odds. It's about 50/50, and I tend to think DVOA is ~slightly~ underrating Houston, so I'd put Houston in if put at gunpoint, but still. Zombie team!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 10:37am

Green Bay.

Although, even in that division, the Lions started 1-3 and were Lionsing it up all over the place. That 8-1 run was unexpected.

by RobotBoy :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 5:32am

Speaking of a certain former coach: 'Bill Belichick could go 0-16 for six straight years and still have a higher winning percentage than Jeff Fisher.' (Courtesy of Mike Tanier).

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 12:01pm

yeah but hwo many consecutive 7-9 seaosons would it take for Belichick to have worse winnign pct than Fisher?

by jtr :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 1:25pm

Just ran the math and it would take 43 straight 7-9 seasons to drop below Fisher's .512 winning percentage.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 5:22pm

Belichick is currently at regular season 234-115 (0.670%)

The difference between his wins-losses is 119
To get to .500 it'll take 59 years of 7-9 to reach 647-646 ... he could do with a tie game

But Fisher's win percentage is 0.512
It'll take 45 years to get to 549-520 (0.513%)

So 46 consecutive 7-9 seasons

(Ooh that reply wasn't there when I started my calculations! Hopefully we got different answers because I only went with regular season)

by Winterguard78 :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 1:16pm

I can't really argue for him over Tunsil or Thuney, but only due to injury. Kansas City 4th round pick LG Park Ehringer started from day 1 of camp and went on IR after week 7. I know he can't be the only reason, but the Chiefs run splits w/Ehringer and without are pretty crazy.

by Bryan Knowles :: Thu, 12/15/2016 - 3:46pm

He was definitely solid, and probably the best guard on the Chiefs this season, but yeah -- with only seven weeks of performance, it'd be hard to put him on the list. He wasn't ~so~ transcendent that he could overcome just the sheer loss of playing time.