ESPN Insider = lunacy

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by Henry Burris, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Henry Burris

    Henry Burris Head Coach

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    Rookies. They're the shiny new toy that teams and fans love to see on the playing field. They offer hope and promise a better future every time they make a play, while their flaws are often written off as growing pains.

    But which teams got the most out of their rookies this year? Using the PFF snap counts there's a big disparity between how much usage each team got out of them, and an even bigger disparity in how they graded out.

    Getting Playing Time

    When a season is coming to an end and there's little hope of the playoffs, it makes sense for that team to plug their rookies in. So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that the Atlanta Falcons had their rookies on the field the most. They didn't use as many players as theGreen Bay Packers (they had 14 rookies on offense or defense take at least one snap) but their total rookie snap count was unmatched. It was chiefly the defense that needed an injection of youth. Desmond Trufant finished second on the unit with 1,022 snaps while linebackers Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu both ended up with over 700.

    Perhaps the most interesting team, and the only member of the top 20 still left in the playoffs, are the New England Patriots. They used 13 different rookies and had the second highest total snap count, with their midseason defensive tackle pairing of Chris Jones andJoe Vellano combining for 1,464 snaps. For the sake of comparison, Denver had the lowest numbers of rookies used (four) and lowest number of rookie snaps (1,123) so this weekend will see a clash between two organization's in very different places.

    How They Graded

    There's no exact science to grading rookies across different positions but we've added up the grades of each player and here's the best and worst of the bunch. This isn't based on long-term projection, but solely the immediate impact they had in 2013. Some team will no doubt be better off for letting their rookies take their lumps this year.

    The Best

    1. Arizona Cardinals (+34.3) The Cardinals are not a team that jumps off the page, especially when you consider they lost their presumed starting left guard, and top pick, Jonathan Cooper in the preseason. But a couple of late-round picks stepped up and made an immediate contribution and none more so than Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Tyrann Mathieu. The Honey Badger had the tricky task of playing safety in their base package (236 snaps) and moving to the slot in nickel (525 snaps) but excelled in both roles before ending up on injured reserve. Along with Mathieu the team got excellent play from Andre Ellington and his 5.5 yards per carry average. His work in the open field was a real difference maker.

    2. Detroit Lions (+30.0) Talk about hitting some home runs. The team was extremely successful on the offensive line where Larry Warford (third-round pick) would play every offensive snap and earn second team all-pro honors from PFF. Next to him the team was forced to turn to undrafted free agent rookie right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and was rewarded with a guy who looked better than a number of first rounders. An impactful run blocker he also finished a healthy 41st out of 76 in our pass-blocking efficiency metric. The team also got production (although his sack numbers flattered him) out of Ziggy Ansah (minus-0.7 grade on 581 snaps) and Devin Taylor (plus-0.5 on 308 snaps) on the defensive line. Back on offense Joseph Fauria may not own the best yards-per-route-run score (his 1.19 was worse than only five others) but the redzone threat finished sixth of all tight ends with seven TDs and was easily the best dancer in the rookie class.

    3. Carolina Panthers (+21.2) The team went into the draft with a plan. They knew their defensive tackles were a weak spot and in need of an immediate upgrade. So they attacked the position, finding run-stuffer Star Lotulelei and a penetrator in Kawann Short. To say it was a success would be an understatement. Lotulelei may never be an every-down player but he's already one of the best interior linemen in the league against the run, earning the sixth highest grade of all defensive tackles in this facet of his game, while also finishing with the second highest run stop percentage (12.9 percent) of his peers. Short would finish 16th overall in this regard but may have more upside in this pass-happy league as he finished in the top 10 in our pass-rushing productivity metric for defensive tackles with 36 quarterback disruptions on 328 pass rushes. The team will be disappointed with the lack of production from Wes Horton who failed to adequately fill in at defensive end, but also added a undrafted free agent starter in Melvin White (minus-1.8 on 697 snaps) and nickel package safety in Robert Lester (plus-5.3 on 301 snaps). This is the kind of draft that turns a team from the butt of jokes to a division-winner.
    The Worst

    1. Chicago Bears (-76.0) The Bears are an example of a transition team that got their rookies a lot of experience -- much more than they probably would have liked -- and that ultimately played a part in them not making the playoffs. They only used nine rookies but two saw nearly every down and three more had significant roles as injuries hit. The right side of their offensive line was the most notable injection of youth, and while Kyle Long had an up and down year, right tackle Jordan Mills just couldn't get going. His struggles with speed off the edge insured his QB was hurried in the pocket. No lineman allowed more pressure than the 78 combined sacks, hits and hurries he did. On defense the team wasn't expecting Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene to see a combined 850 snaps, nor David Bass to play 317 snaps of his own. But with Henry Melton going down andLance Briggs and D.J. Williams battling injuries that's exactly what happened. It didn't go well with Bostic, our second lowest ranked middle linebacker. Greene earned the sixth lowest grade of all 4-3 outside linebackers on a fraction of the snaps of those above him, and Bass finished in the bottom 10 at the defensive end spot. This team will be better for their experiences, but it killed them in 2013.

    2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-46.2) The shame for the Bucs is they did get some immediate return. Before going down with injury Mike James was making some plays and in limited appearances earned a 39.9 elusive rating that would have seen him finish above Reggie Bush, Matt Forte and Le'Veon Bell. The problem was (and again this problem could be a long term benefit) starting a rookie quarterback is rarely a good thing, with Mike Glennon flashing between moments of competence and stretches that made you want to smack your head into a desk. A bigger issue came on the nose though asAkeem Spence just wasn't ready for the demands placed on him. Expected to be a run-stuffing, early down player he finished with the 10th lowest run defense grade of defensive tackles to go with the worst pass rushing productivity score out there.

    3. New England Patriots (-38.7) New England certainly wasn't afraid to put its rookies on the field, and in some cases that was extremely justified. Logan Ryan made plays and Jamie Collinsgrew with the more playing time he got. But situational rusher Michael Buchanan was such a flop they had to call Andre Carter back with Buchanan earning just 10 QB disruptions on 104 pass rushes. The plan to give Tom Brady more weapons just didn't pan out. Zach Sudfeld was quickly cut in season, Aaron Dobson had the fifth highest drop rate of wide receivers and Josh Boyce averaged just 0.98 yards per route run (if he'd run enough routes that would have been the 10th lowest rate). Then there is Chris Jones who put some sacks on the board but earned a catastrophic run-stuffing grade that was worse than any other defensive tackle.
    Literally no one else is criticizing the right side of the line, and PFF (among others) has graded the offensive line significantly higher than ESPN, so when it comes down to: what I've seen + what everyone else is saying vs. what espn is saying, I'm going to have to assume ESPN is being idiotic here. Honestly, the only REALLY BAD games the right side of the line had were against the Browns and Eagles, and they played below average/what was expected against the Rams and Packers, but there is NO WAY they played as bad as ESPN is saying they are. If they were that bad, they would need competition brought in for the job, and Emery has made no hint of doing so; in fact, he seems pleased with their performance.
     
  2. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Hall of Famer

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    Agree, Henry. I too have read some critical stuff about the Bears right OL (Mills in particular) but that criticism wasn't justified in my mind by the "eye test". Not saying Mills and even Long didn't struggle at times but they were generally solid all things considered and a major step forward from the disaster we had last year (especially Carimi) or in preseason (Webb was a mess at RT like he was previously at LT). They should only improve with experience and time together.

    It reminds me of FA a year ago when we told after signing Bushrod that he "graded out not much better than Webb" at LT was therefore a waste of money. Well, Bushrod is no All-Pro LT but once again the eye test this year told a very different story than the grading metrics. JB was a major upgrade over what we had previously and was a solid T which Webb clearly was not ever.

    Sometimes the "numbers" say one thing but your eyes paint a very different picture.
     
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  3. ZifanQ

    ZifanQ Pro-Bowler

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    It's because Kromer's scheme envoles hurries as part of the scheme so Cutler can step up in the pocket afaik, and that's why Mills/Bushrod is gtting those bad grades..

    Just another case of ESPN being pure shit
     
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  4. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Assistant Head Coach
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    That's a great point. And it's not just ESPN. Statistics have their place in grading players, but it's not the end-all definitive measuring stick. I am a big believer in the "eye test" too. You just know what you see with your own eyes, and that sometimes doesn't fit with the stats that people throw out like this ESPN thing.
     
  5. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka
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    not ESPN's grading, but PFF's, and it is PFF's fundamental flaw when grading DL/OL. They put WAY to much stock in hurries/disruptions and not NEAR enough on actual sacks. Speaking of rookies though, this team would have been far better off w/Alec Ogletree/Warford in the 1st/2nd then Long/Bostic. Ogletree had 100+ tackles, a sack or so and an int; best rookie MLB by far of the ones talked about being drafted by the Bears. The rest were all lumped into a similar grouping. While Long was impressive as hell this year, Warford was every bit as good.
     
  6. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Assistant Head Coach
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    I think they went with Long because they believed that he has the higher ceiling. He came to the NFL with a lack of experience, so it was amazing that he was a good as he was this season, and of course he has a long long way to go - pun intended :-). We'll just have to see how these players do over the next few years.
     
    #6 JustAnotherBearsFan99, Jan 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  7. mdbearz

    mdbearz Veteran

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    That write up made green and Bostic seem ok, but Mills was the second coming of Carimi.

    The line that was so bad that our offense had one of the best years EVER.

    That just does not add up.
     
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  8. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Hall of Famer

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    And the fact that Long will eventually be a Tackle. Warford is purely a G.
     
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  9. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka
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    It's assumedd Long will be a T, right now nothing points to that. Got to remember what Kromer wants out of his G's, and Long fits that G bill. He COULD be a future T, but nothing says he WILL be.
     
  10. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Hall of Famer

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    Of course nothing is assured but Long has T potential whereas Warford doesn't. I've said this from the beginning, even when I was skeptical about the Long pick originally (I am glad to be proven wrong), that he was picked as high as he was because he has the athleticism and body style to play T as well should the need arise. The old mantra about "not drafting interior OLs in the 1st round" isn't nearly as true as it once was.
     
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