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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:29 pm 
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Minnesota – Three Performances of Note

Making Trouble on the Edges

This early in the season, Viking defensive ends Jared Allen (+3.2) and Brian Robison (+3.1) have grabbed spots among the league’s top 4-3 ends as the pair have posted a sack, five hits and 17 hurries through two games and Pass Rushing Productivity scores of 9.8 and 13.2, respectively. Chicago’s offensive tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills failed in their bid to slow the hot start, surrendering pressures to both inside and outside moves and doing so from early in the first to late in the fourth.

Getting this much pressure from the edges bodes well for the outlook of the entire D-line with the return of defensive tackle Kevin Williams from injury and the Letroy Guion/Sharif Floyd time share taking shape. Any push up the middle that comes along as we move forward is only going to add a layer to the trouble opposing QBs are facing and could, as the season hits full stride, be the key to this defense’s success. With little help needed from added rushers, the front four could free more defenders to work against the division’s dangerous passing attacks.

Three Amigos

Two games into the season, we’ve now had a good glimpse of what the Vikings’ trio of first-round picks have to offer. DT Sharif Floyd had his snaps cut nearly in half from the first week to the second (44 to 24) after a fairly nondescript opener highlighted by a batted pass and a missed tackle. His run defense grade fell off to an undesirable -1.2 in Week 2 as he appears to still be finding his feet.

Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson again saw just a handful of offensive snaps but chipped in with his first kickoff return for a touchdown as he opened the game in style, flashing the big-play impact Minnesota envisioned on draft day. He’s 3-for-3 on passes his way and the screen pass he took for a weaving 14 yards against Chicago was a peek into what we may see more of soon.

Following his 73-snap debut against the pass-happy Lions, cornerback Xavier Rhodes settled for 41 plays this week and saw a big bump in his coverage grade, leading all Viking DBs with a +1.6 while again locked in to spending the day lined up on the defense’s left side.

Must See TV

In the time spent reviewing each game during our analysis process, we invariably come upon plays (or elements of plays) that keep the rewind button clicking. A couple from the Vikings in this one got their due on the broadcast replays, but are worth another mention for the individual efforts displayed — both coming in the fourth quarter of a tight game.

The first being fullback Rhett Ellison’s absolute destruction of Bears safety Chris Conte on 4th-and-inches (4Q 10:43) to clear the path for Adrian Peterson’s conversion and keep the go-ahead drive moving. Ellison leads into the RG-RT hole for an Iso block so scary dominant that I’d recommend sending the children out of the room before viewing. Not only is Conte flat-backed and de-helmeted, but Peterson takes the cue to run directly over the top of the encounter adding just the right touch of finish.

First down gained, the Vikings go on to kick a field goal and take the lead with eight minutes left. Chicago’s ensuing possession provides the setting for the second play.

Looking to answer with points of their own and the clock becoming a factor, the Bears have moved to midfield and are riding Matt Forte via pass and run. From their 48 (4Q 6:41) they send Forte wide right, looking to churn toward another first down, but Viking defensive tackle Letroy Guion has other plans. From his DRT spot, the play goes away. Guion gives ground off the snap then charges laterally with the flow, crossing the line of scrimmage, discarding fullback Tony Fiammetta with one arm and tracking down Forte from behind.

What happens at this point takes his play from a solid hustle effort to one of a player desperately wanting to secure a win. Guion latches on to Forte from behind and not only takes him to the ground, but steals the ball away in the process. A textbook swipe at a key moment in the game that gave the ball back to Minnesota with a short field and an opportunity to build on their recently-gained lead.

Chicago – Three Performances of Note

Day of Extremes

If you’re only going to remember one play from Jay Cutler’s set on Sunday, his last throw would be the one he’d suggest. Though his day of extremes finished on a high note with the beautifully placed game-winner he delivered to Martellus Bennett at the pylon, the valleys were as low as the peaks were high. All factored in as Cutler settled near the midline with an overall +0.5 grade for his troubles.

Balancing that throw was a forced effort into traffic at the goal line late in the second that pin-balled its way into the waiting arms of Minnesota’s Kevin Williams. The fumble he lost at the hands of Jared Allen earlier that quarter was even more painful as he watched Brian Robison scoop and score.

Then there was the perfect pitch-and-catch ‘go route’ touchdown to Brandon Marshall in the first quarter that was offset by an equally smooth shot on a similar pattern that sailed to Viking safety Harrison Smith.

The dramatic ending improves the taste left, but taken top to bottom, this day did not follow well on his Week 1 showing.

Everywhere in Coverage

Having long been a positive-grader in coverage, Bears linebacker Lance Briggs unsurprisingly continued on that front in this game (+3.2 coverage). Notable about his display, though, was the manner in which he made his impact against the pass, getting his hands to balls not only targeting his coverage but those around him as well.

Briggs logged one pass defense of a simple nature, reaching past fullback Zach Line who had settled just past the line of scrimmage to swap down a relatively harmless Ponder attempt. Later, though, Briggs came up with a more impressive deflection (Q2 4:28) by leaping to get a piece of a ball intended for Jerome Simpson on a route run a level deeper than his coverage.

His most disruptive – and most subtle – addition to this collection of coverage moments, came deep into the third quarter and helped keep points off the board. With Minnesota down three and driving, a third-down slant from the Chicago 10-yard line found its way into the midsection of Viking receiver Jarius Wright at the 3 – yardage that would be enough for a first down near the goal line. Briggs reacted to the throw and from his inside-out position, arrived just after the pass, swiping a paw at it as it settled into the WR’s belly and getting enough to rattle it loose.

Flat D-Line

The Bears up front — particularly the Peppers-Paea-Melton-McClellin starting quartet — had their share of issues any way you look at it. As pass rushing group they managed only a hit and three hurries on the day and against the ground game there were just four stops to be had. All graded solidly in the red overall, each notching -2.1-or-worse marks and negatives in both facets as the Viking O-line had all the answers.

It wouldn’t be as worrying if it were not shaping up to be a trend… all but Paea had similar results in Week 1, but it looks like he’s been pulled in. A small silver lining may be what Nate Collins showed while rotating in at DLT and DRT, a +1.6 to go with a stop and two hurries in 27 snaps.

Game Notes

- Martellus Bennet was targeted five times when lined up in the slot. He caught four for 54 yards and a touchdown.

- Robison and Allen each rushed 100% of the time from their designated sides of the line (Robison from the left, Allen from the right). They were two of only five 4-3 DEs with at least 30 pass rush snaps this week to do so.

- The Vikings’ offensive line gave up just eight total QB pressures (one sack, two hits, five hurries).

PFF Game Ball

Jared Allen and his consistently disruptive day get the game ball that will be marked in sharpie: “9/15/13: 1 sack, 1 hit, 4 hurries, 5 tackles, 3 stops, +3.2”.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:50 pm 
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I like the PFF guys, but my goodness, reading this and you'd think the Vikings won 34-7.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:06 pm 
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I'll repeat my earlier criticism that this is the most unscientific numerical metric I have seen in sports. It has surprisingly become a popular tool and is a favorite for people pretending to be "really smart" managers.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:07 pm 
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good dolphin wrote:
I'll repeat my earlier criticism that this is the most unscientific numerical metric I have seen in sports. It has surprisingly become a popular tool and is a favorite for people pretending to be "really smart" managers.


Presented with no comment on my part.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 17, 2013 4:22 pm 
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good dolphin wrote:
I'll repeat my earlier criticism that this is the most unscientific numerical metric I have seen in sports. It has surprisingly become a popular tool and is a favorite for people pretending to be "really smart" managers.


Yea, it's not a stat. It's a grade. I don't think anyone would take it as a science, and if they are, they don't understand the grading system at all.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:01 pm 
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Bucky Chris wrote:
good dolphin wrote:
I'll repeat my earlier criticism that this is the most unscientific numerical metric I have seen in sports. It has surprisingly become a popular tool and is a favorite for people pretending to be "really smart" managers.


Yea, it's not a stat. It's a grade. I don't think anyone would take it as a science, and if they are, they don't understand the grading system at all.


Correct me if I am wrong but a stat is at its base simply a numerical rather than verbal or visual recording of an event. The moment the visual is transferred to a +/- that corresponds to a number, it becomes a statistic.

Hasn't Emery been lauded for his 21st century approach based heavily in part on his reliance on these flawed numbers? I know Bernstien salivated the after the New Year's Day press conference in which he mentioned PFF.

Meanwhile, this grade is based on so many subjectives it really is indicative of nothing. Their base line is the play a player would be expected to make in a situation. What the hell does that even mean? Take the position or nose tackle for instance. Some systems would consider you having done a fine job if you take on a double team and simply hold your position so that the 0 and 1 hole are clogged. Others want their nose tackle to get upfield so that the pocket is collapsed...and I expect some entry level person who considers the position of Score producer to be a pay upgrade to be a guy who sufficiently understands the subtleties of each position on each play to judge what each player should have been done? I'm not buying that. It sounds like the kind of formula that gives Urlacher 8 tackles on Sunday and 15 on Tuesday.

I know you probably know all this because this is an area that interests you. However, I am seeing these grades/numbers appear much to frequently in the common lexicon to think that they are not being taken as scientific. It seems to me people are placing them on the same level as some of the very reliable baseball stats.

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