Friday, May 30, 2008

In the Trenches: 2007 week eight

Games Reviewed
Indianapolis Colts (31) at Carolina Panthers (7)
Pittsburgh Steelers (24) at Cincinnati Bengals (13)
Washington Redskins (7) at New England Patriots (52)

Unfortunately there were only three NFL Replay games for week eight. But at least I got my first look at the Carolina Panthers, and overall the line play was pretty good, especially at right tackle where no one had a below average Blocker Rating.

Blocker Ratings
Note: Players in green had above average Blocker Ratings; players in brown were below average.

Left Tackle

For the third time (out of three 2007 season games reviewed so far) Matt Light puts up an above average BR. I'm surprised he has done so well, though I expect his play will drop off later in the season. I still say Chris Samuels is one of the best left tackles in the game, and definitely one of the most fun to watch, even though his 8.57 BR on the season so far ranks only ninth (and no, I'm not a Redskins fan). Levi Jones looked off on his game and was most ineffective with his run blocking (6.75 RBR). Charlie Johnson struggled in both pass and run blocking and easily had the worst game of any of this week's linemen.

Left Guard

Finally, I got to review a game in which Logan Mankins looked like one of the NFL's top guards. Unfortunately for Jets fans, Alan Faneca was once again less effective than the average left guard; on the other hand, he should still be about nine plays per game better than Adrien Clarke. For Jets fans keeping score at home here are the relevant 2007 BRs so far: Pete Kendall, 8.64 BR (242 plays); Faneca, 8.29 BR (161 plays); Clarke, 7.39 BR (95 plays).


As bad as Mahan looked the first time I reviewed one of his games, he has been decent the second two times. Really all of the centers this week were just that: decent, average. Except for Dan Koppen who, like his Patriot linemates, dominated the Redskins defensive front.

Right Guard

Including Super Bowl XLII, I've now reviewed four Patriots games, and in each game Stephen Neal has outperformed Logan Mankins. Neal doesn't have the same ability at pulling that Mankins does, but he seems to be stronger at the point of attack and more effective with blocks at the second level. Bobbie Williams had a relatively mistake-free game, but despite having the highest BR of the week, "steady" and "solid" seem like more apt descriptions of his game than "dominant" or even "great."

Right Tackle

The only below-average right tackle this week was New England's Ryan O'Callaghan who is not listed above because he was only in for six plays. Stacy Andrews, who had looked awful at left guard early in the year, did very well in both pass and run blocking. Nick Kaczur, like teammate Matt Light, continues to surprise. Willie Colon is shaping up to be the Steelers' top offensive lineman. Though I don't chart it due to the extra time it would take, I'd say that Todd Wade had the most double-team help of any of these other tackles and is definitely playing at a level a notch or two below all of them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In the Trenches: 2007 week seven

Games Reviewed
Arizona Cardinals (19) at Washington Redskins (21)
Baltimore Ravens (14) at Buffalo Bills (19)
Tennessee Titans (38) at Houston Texans (36)
Chicago Bears (19) at Philadelphia Eagles (16)
Pittsburgh Steelers (28) at Denver Broncos (31)

Blocker Ratings
Note: Players in green had above average Blocker Ratings; players in brown were below average.

Left Tackle

Though he made some rookie blunders, Baltimore's Jared Gaither was way more impressive than Arizona's more heralded rookie, Levi Brown, who was a definite step down from starter Mike Gandy. Jason Peters once again scored surprisingly low; he had a lopsided game, doing very well in pass protection (9.32 PBR) but not so much in the running game (7.12 RBR).

Left Guard

Alan Faneca looked much better against the Broncos than he had against the Cardinals, but it still wasn't a stellar game. Jason Brown continues to perform well and is now the highest rated left guard on the season. Chester Pitts's rating is artificially high: in the NFL Replay version of the Titans-Texans game, three or four Texans three-and-outs were cut out, leaving the Texans with only five running plays to review; pass blocker ratings are higher than run blocker ratings, and left guards (along with centers) have the biggest difference (seven tenths).


Re: Mike Flanagan, see the comment on Chester Pitts above. Even with a good game against the Eagles, Olin Kreutz is still below average for the season. I've seen enough of Kevin Mawae now to say he's still one of the top centers in the league. Mike Pucillo rebounded from his awful week-six appearance, turning in a serviceable game. Melvin Fowler had a great game against the Broncos and a decent game against the Colts, but struggled noticeably against the Ravens.

Right Guard

The list of the top-rated guards (left or right) for the 2007 season now goes like this: Leonard Davis, Cowboys (9.39 BR, 147 plays), Shawn Andrews, Eagles (9.29 BR, 63 plays), Chris Snee, Giants (9.23 BR, 162 plays). Yes, they're all in the NFC East; and unsung Giant lineman Rich Seubert is fifth (behind Jason Brown) with a 9.04 BR.

Right Tackle

Marshal Yanda just keeps having good games, as does David Stewart. They're the second and sixth rated right tackles so far on the season.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

In the Trenches: 2007 week six

Games Reviewed
Oakland Raiders (14) at San Diego Chargers (28)
Washington Redskins (14) at Green Bay Packers (17)
New England Patriots (48) at Dallas Cowboys (27)
Miami Dolphins (31) at Cleveland Browns (41)
Minnesota Vikings (34) at Chicago Bears (31)

Blocker Ratings
Note: Players in green had above average Blocker Ratings; players in brown were below average.

Left Tackle

None of the left tackles had poor weeks, though it was disappointing to see favorites Chris Samuels, Joe Thomas, and Chad Clifton on the wrong side of average. Each struggled in the run game but did well in pass protection, as did Bryant McKinnie, Barry Sims, and Flozell Adams, who still managed an above-average BR in what was likely his worst performance of the season. Meanwhile, Vernon Carey, with three games reviewed, is having one of the best seasons of any tackle so far.

Left Guard

This is the third time I've reviewed a New England game, including the Super Bowl and 2007 week one (which used my earlier rating system which tended to yield higher scores) and Logan Mankins has yet to turn in a noticeably above-average game. On the other hand, since NFL Replay isn't given to showing blow outs, his best games probably aren't going to be considered here. Dielman and Hutchinson appear right where you would expect them to. Dielman is one of only two left guards with a BR over 9 so far this season (the other is New York Giant Rich Seubert, while Baltimore's Jason Brown is only a couple hundredths off).


Casey Rabach left the game with a groin injury and there was a huge drop off for Washington when Mike Pucillo stepped in. Of the centers with at least 50 reviewed plays so far, Rabach has the second best BR (9.18) behind Denver's Tom Nalen (9.2). Andre Gurode struggled mightily with Vince Wilfork and the middle of that early-season Patriot defense. Olin Kreutz, going against those tough Minnesota defensive tackles, rebounded nicely from his rough week-five performance against Green Bay. San Diego's Nick Hardwick had a BR of 10, but only had six plays rated before leaving the game with an injury.

Right Guard

Dallas owner Jerry Jones received a lot of criticism when he signed Leonard Davis to a big contract last off-season, but it sure looks like it was worth it. Last week I noted that the Giants' Chris Snee might be the best guard in the league these days, so I'll just note now that Snee's 9.23 BR is second best among all guards. First is Davis with a 9.39 BR. Rex Hadnot had a nice game, which is a good reminder that you can't judge a player based off of one game. Cooper Carlisle, on the other hand, looked a lot worse than he had in week two; although, the guys on the San Diego defensive line in 2007 were a tougher match-up than the ones playing for Denver.

Right Tackle

This is becoming a theme: this is the third time a Dolphins' game has been included in these weekly ratings and each time the opposing right tackle—in this case the Browns' duo of Kevin Shaffer and Ryan Tucker—has rated the highest of any right tackle that week. Consider also that in week one the opposing right tackle (for most of the game) was Washington's Stephon Heyer who this week looked miserable against the Packers. The sometimes maligned Nick Kaczur had a good game against the aggressive Dallas pass rush. He has been the best right tackle in the 2007 games reviewed thus far, posting a 8.97 BR. Another player who had a decent week six, the even more maligned L.J. Shelton, is second best with an 8.81 BR.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

2009 NFL Mock Draft - alpha version

This exercise is pretty high up there on the utterly pointless scale. Last year's alpha mock named a whopping eleven of the eventual thirty-one first round picks. Oh well. All in good fun.

1. Kansas City Chiefs
Cullen Harper, QB, Clemson

2. Atlanta Falcons
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech

3. San Francisco 49ers
Matt Stafford, QB, Georgia

4. Chicago Bears
Curtis Painter, QB, Purdue

5. Oakland Raiders
Percy Harvin, WR, Florida

6. St. Louis Rams
Michael Oher, OT, Mississippi

7. Detroit Lions
Michael Johnson, DE, Georgia Tech

8. Baltimore Ravens
Vontae Davis, CB, Illinois

9. Philadelphia Eagles (from Carolina Panthers)
Ciron Black, OT, LSU

10. Arizona Cardinals
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia

11. Miami Dolphins
Al Woods, DT, LSU

12. Houston Texans
George Selvie, DE, South Florida

13. Buffalo Bills
Brian Cushing, LB, USC

14. Tennessee Titans
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland

15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Fili Moala, DT, USC

16. Cincinnati Bengals
Chris Wells, RB, Ohio State

17. New York Jets
LeSean McCoy, RB, Pittsburgh

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

19. Washington Redskins
Myron Rolle, S, Florida State

20. Minnesota Vikings
Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia

21. New York Giants
Brian Orakpo, DE, Texas

22. Philadelphia Eagles
Aaron Kelly, WR, Clemson

23. Cleveland Browns
Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati

24. Green Bay Packers
Alex Boone, OT, Ohio State

25. Denver Broncos
James Davis, RB, Clemson

26. Jacksonville Jaguars
Brandon Spikes, MLB, Florida

27. Seattle Seahawks
Malcolm Jenkins, CB, Ohio State

28. New Orleans Saints
Greg Middleton, DE, Indiana

29. New England Patriots
Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU

30. San Diego Chargers
Rey Maualuga, ILB, USC

31. Dallas Cowboys
Herman Johnson, G, LSU

32. Indianapolis Colts
Demetrius Byrd, WR, LSU

Thursday, May 01, 2008

In the Trenches: 2007 week five

Games Reviewed
New York Jets (24) at New York Giants (35)
Miami Dolphins (19) at Houston Texans (22)
Atlanta Falcons (13) at Tennessee Titans (20)
Chicago Bears (27) at Green Bay Packers (20)
Dallas Cowboys (25) at Buffalo Bills (24)

Blocker Ratings
Note: Players in green had above average Blocker Ratings; players in brown were below average.

Left Tackle

Unlike in week one, Ferguson matched his reputation for being a weak run blocker (6.52 RBR), but he exceled in the passing game (9.22 PBR). Jason Peters struggled against DeMarcus Ware and Chris Canty. Chad Clifton's play at times looked uncharacteristically uninspired.

Left Guard

Chester Pitts had a strong game against Miami's poor interior line. Justin Blalock played as poorly as any linemen I've seen in the games reviewed thus far. Or, he held that distinction until Falcons reserve tackle Renardo Foster entered the game.


Rex Hadnot moved to center later in the game and only saw 18 snaps there. Had he had more snaps he almost certainly wouldn't have had the best BR of the centers this week. Olin Kreutz was surprisingly ineffective, not just in the power run game but in getting out and making blocks at the second level as well.

Right Guard

I knew he was good, but Chris Snee might be the best guard in football. Leonard Davis was once again impressive. Anthony Alabi only had 18 plays, but did well when he was in there. Roberto Garza didn't start out so bad but really seemed to wear down as the game wore on.

Right Tackle

Two Dolphins games have showed up so far and both times the right tackles have played very, very well against them. If there were an opponent adjustment, Eric Winston wouldn't be at the top. Mark Tauscher rebounded from a sub-par game the prior week and his play at times was dominating in this contest which the Packers should have won.