Critiquing the B/R 1000 Project: Inside Linebackers

Bloggers, media and sport fans used to heap scorn on Bleacher Report, mainly due to some questionable user-generated content that damaged the site’s reputation in its infancy. However, since their big money deal with Turner 18 months ago, they’ve added some talented and respected names as featured writers and a great deal of their content is now well worth checking out.

One of the featured writers they added to their roster was draft scouting guru and former TJB Podcast guest Matt Miller, who – along with several other film junkies – is spearheading the B/R NFL 1000 project, where they attempt to rank the NFL’s top 1,000 players. The project is now into its third year and they’ve just started releasing this year’s results. For more on how the project works go here.

In our ninth installment, we look at their rankings for inside linebackers. To look back at the previous updates go here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

In their top 60 inside linebackers list, Miller and his colleagues rank David Harris 23rd and Demario Davis 55th.

Here’s what they said about Harris:

Harris is one of those guys who will seem to always be around. He still provides the Jets just enough of everything that he’ll find his snaps, although his reputation still continues to exceed his play.

Read Bent’s thoughts after the jump.

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

On the face of it, these rankings seem about right. If anything, Harris might be ranked a little high, but then again, he had an outstanding first month and these rankings are supposed to reflect the 2013 season as a whole.

While they land in more or less the right place on the rankings list, there are still faults within the analysis that leads Miller and his colleagues to place them where they did.

First of all, they describe Davis as a “two-down linebacker”. That’s inaccurate, because Davis played over 95% of the snaps.

On Harris, they’re correct to note that he struggles to get off blocks and misses too many tackles (interestingly, he had none in the first four games and 13 in the last 12). However, their take on him as a pass rusher – “Harris doesn’t have enough burst to be considered a threat to rush the passer. It’s not something he’s often asked to do” – is off base for two reasons. First of all, while he isn’t blitzing as often as he did when Rex Ryan first arrived (2nd most ILB pass rush snaps in the NFL in both 2009 and 2010), he’s remained in the top ten for ILB pass rush snaps. Also, he has had above average per-snap productivity – 13th at his position in 2013 and 11th in 2012.

Also, the analysis harps on Davis’ limitations in coverage, when in reality that’s more of an issue for Harris and the Jets scheme around this accordingly. Harris will often be tasked with spying a quarterback or keying a runner, but most of the time, he just works underneath in zone coverage so he isn’t forced to cover too much ground. The analysis praises his ability to break on routes to the flat (having earlier highlighted his lack of burst), but as we will all recall from the Panthers game, it was possible to exploit him in such situations.

For the list as a whole, while it’s refreshing to see an ILB ranking list that doesn’t just correspond to tackle numbers, the list does seem to correspond pretty closely to PFF’s rankings list. It’s almost as if they’ve tweaked their own rankings to tie in broadly with that on the assumption that those rankings will be accurate. However, while they are indeed accurate in terms of being an efficiency rating for how well the player did their job, they don’t take into account difficulty of assignment and that’s why you end up with the guy in 5th place (Brandon Spikes) struggling to find a job before settling for a one-year, $3m deal, while the guy in 10th (Brian Cushing) had received a six-year deal for $50m+ six months earlier.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on this project over the offseason.




86 comments
UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

Now I hear the dagnabbit Giants are also after him, those gluttons!!!!!!!!

Bent
Bent moderator

Falcons signed Dwight Lowery.  I didn't even realize he was available.  Surprising that not one person called for the Jets to get him considering all the fuss about upgrading our secondary.


One of the most overrated players the Jets have had in recent years IMO.

a57se
a57se

So what are the chances we start the season in Denver?


UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

The Lions to host the Billdos this Thanksgiving. Jim Schwartz goes back to old stopping ground as the DC of the mighty Buffalo. Should be a good one!

greggreen
greggreen

I wouldnt be surprised if we drafted harrises replacement this draft

lagoo
lagoo

If we can get shayne skov in the 4th I would he's a great player. He'd definitely put the pressure on these guys and I could see him stealing snaps and even a starting job

t__k
t__k

I think both LB's leave a bit to be desired.  For a guy like Davis who's strength is supposed to be in coverage, I seem to remember more than a few mix ups in coverage with him.

Disgruntled Jets Fan
Disgruntled Jets Fan

Man, I can never predict what bizarre suggestion either of the Hanknaples personalities will adamantly argue for next.  I have to at least give some credit for unpredictability.

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@sir_manolo  I agree, but the Giants can create several million more in cap space by restructuring if they need to. I agree, we need to stop these games and start improving the team. He who hesitates is lost, especially in the NFL.

a57se
a57se

The chances are 0% as the Jets HOST the Broncos in 2014!

a57se
a57se

@jake100  

You making up stuff again or do you have a source for this?

Bent
Bent moderator

@greggreen  Immediate replacement or heir apparent to take over next year?

Bent
Bent moderator

@t__k  Yes, good call.

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@a57se @jake100  Idzik is having dinner with him right now!  Problems though, Idzik wants him to pay, lol

Bent
Bent moderator

@jake100 @a57se  Yep, at Metlife on MNF.  Would be very surprised at anything else.

a57se
a57se

@jake100 @a57se 

I doubt we are starting at home this year...I think it is the Giants turn.

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Not confirmed, but that's the big rumor on Twitter. 

levi
levi

@Bent @t__k  In his defense there were mix ups all over the field at times leaving TEs and WR open. I think that could be expected with so many young guys starting. Hopefully that improves.

a57se
a57se

@jake100 @a57se 

I can think of some folks I'd like to give the  bone too........:)

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@a57se @jake100  You are so gullible it is not even a challenge anymore, lol ☺☺

a57se
a57se

@Bent @jake100

So you think Giants at home on SUnday and Jets at home on monday night? Then have us play on Denver the following Sunday....perfect!

a57se
a57se

@Bent

When does the schedule come out?

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan @a57se  All the big schedule rumors on twitter were wrong last year, I seem to recall.

Bent
Bent moderator

@madbacker @Bent  I don't think switching them around would work too well.  Overall, these are two of the players about whom there is the least chatter.  Would imagine this is not likely to change.

madbacker
madbacker

@Bent I believe you mentioned that you thought that the team is looking to Ride & Die with Davis and Harris as the starters. Is this still what you are hearing? Any rumor of possibly switching Davis and Harris' roles?


Gosh darn, I would love to get an early round ILB who is a better blitzer to get us back to the days of the Madbacker!!

levi
levi

@Brendan @levi  Didnt he want to move Harrison to Center at one point? I assumed that was just to get under your skin but after today I realize he might have been serious.