Critiquing the B/R NFL 1000 Project: QBs and LTs

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.

Since we’re into the offseason here, we thought it would be worth sharing some of their more interesting scouting takes on some of the Jets players, so we will be sharing these over the coming weeks.

So far, there have been less-than-flattering assessments of Geno Smith and Matt Simms (who ranked 49th and 63rd respectively out of the top 65 quarterbacks in the league). Perhaps even more alarming than that is their take on D’Brickashaw Ferguson who ranks just 23rd out of the top 35 left tackles in the league and about whom they say the following:

Ferguson will never be seen as anything more than a long-armed above-average pass-blocking left tackle. He uses his hands well in shoving defenders up the field and still possesses the natural ability to slide and mirror in pass protection. But if 2013 is any indication, Ferguson’s best years are behind him.

Read Bent’s thoughts after the jump.

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

That’s a rather damning assessment on Ferguson, who is the 5th highest paid left tackle in the league according to OverTheCap. Personally, I still consider Ferguson to be one of the league’s best one-on-one blindside pass protectors and it’s worth emphasizing that they are grading performance based on the 2013 season, not necessarily ranking who they see as the best players.

I always consider that when grading left tackles, the importance of pass protection should be weighted more heavily than run blocking, in the same way that you would prioritize pass catching over blocking when grading the league’s best tight ends. Clearly that is a potential flaw in this project, because Ferguson was still only 14th last year despite the fact he only allowed two sacks. Obviously run blocking has never been his strength although it’s worth noting that PFF gave him the 5th highest run blocking grade for all tackles in 2009, so he is capable of having more of an impact when he had someone more established (Alan Faneca) alongside him.

That brings me to my next point, which is that the fact he played alongside the struggling Brian Winters for most of the season in some respects excuses the worsening pass protection numbers pointed out in the article. It’s worth noting that Ferguson surrendered eight sacks and four quarterback hits for the season, but none of those came over the last four weeks as Winters started to figure it out. He had also only surrendered one of each in the four games before Winters was given a starting role.

I’m confident that Ferguson still has a few years of solid play left in him and hopefully he’ll make more of an impact next year if there is more consistent play from the left guard position.

As for the quarterbacks, it’s not surprising to see Smith and Simms ranked near the bottom based on their body of work last season. There is some acknowledgement that there is room for growth, with the writer stating that Smith “obviously struggled, but he also proved that he has the physical talent and mental acumen to be a franchise quarterback.” The most interesting part of their analysis was that Smith and Simms both received the same score for arm strength and also that Smith’s mechanics received a surprisingly high score of 13 out of 15. I would agree with their take that accuracy was the biggest issue for both though.

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




64 comments
Slope Reader
Slope Reader

Matt Miller is silly or downright stupid sometimes.  They've given his own column ranking NFL teams and his rankings make no sense. He gives his favorite teams better rankings.  For instance, at one point, the Falcons were 1 and 3 or 1 and 4 and because the guy clearly likes them so much, stupidly ranked them in the top 10 but how can you possibly rank a team that's 1 and 3 or 4 in the top 10 and not rank a team that beat two previously ranked number 1 teams below 10th as he did with Indianapolis? He gave the Colts no credit whatsoever for beating Seattle and San francisco which of course was moronic. In fact he still had them ranked behind Atlanta. Then when he finally realized that the Colts were a top 10 team after they beat their third number 1 ranked team, he over-reacted as per usual and made the Colts who had lost twice, the top team. While they clearly deserved to be a top 10 team, a team that loses twice to two teams they should have won, is not a number one team- yet another example of his stupidity.


 The guy has no consistency: one week he'll raise one team up for not even beating a good team but showing well against them and then the next week, give no credit to another team that actually beats a good team. What's more, is the guy seems to have no idea what it means to play more difficult teams than easier teams and seemed totally incapable of understanding what it meant when the NFC South and West teams played each other over and over whereas Denver and KC played patently easy teams all year and were totally outmatched when they actually played good teams. It didn't surprise me at all he was incapable of choosing the Superbowl winner as he really doesn't have a deep understanding of football.  He should be reading Football Outsiders which, while it doesn't compensate for difficulty of schedule, at least makes an attempt to equalize teams.


How is making picks with no particular rationale showing any ability or thought whatsover on Miller's part? What's worse is he doesn't justify or rationalize  his silly rankings. I can only guess that he has a pet trained monkey to help him make his picks. How does making stupid picks and then not bothering to explain them help us believe the guy has any deeper understanding about football. You'd think that he'd be embarrassed. If anything, he makes your initial description of Bleacher Report far more apt.


There are some very good writers on there however.  I especially like this fellow Murf Baldwin who breaks down the teams he covers' plays in great detail. I see no reason Miller has any technical knowledge about football whatsoever whereas others clearly do but when he makes patently stupid predictions and analyses I see no reason to believe he knows anything about the college players either and as i said, when you make silly predictions, it doesn't make people believe you know very much about the college players either.


Bent
Bent moderator

So, guys, we might have differences of opinion based on the findings from this project so far, but it's interesting discussion fodder, right?


Shall we continue to share these details on TJB as they run through the other positions?

Kory Cosenza
Kory Cosenza

the fact this article says that thad lewis, brian hoyer and kellen clemens are all better than eli, makes it immediately lose credibility in my mind.


nesboogie
nesboogie

RichCimini
Former Jets coach Eric Mangini, a 49ers assistant, will coach tight ends in '14, team announced. #jets

williamg1
williamg1

Say what you want about Brick and Mangold, but they are (in my opinion) the most important players on this team. NOTHING scares me more each Sunday, then the thought of Mangold or Brick getting injured. 


I want to see the Jets draft these positions in later rounds, if only to provide insurance in case one of these guys (who are getting older, thus: increasing injury risk) goes down.  

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

Bent, I liked the way you balanced both sides, but on Fergy your point that "he  surrendered eight sacks and four QB hits..., but none came in the last four weeks as Winters started to figure it out" is weak. It totally overlooks the weak level of competition in the last four weeks which is the most important indicator of performance. 

We all know that the last half of the 2013 schedule was the time when the Jets were supposed to have a cake walk with many NFL "experts" predicting 5 or 6 wins. The 2013 surprise was that the Jets did so well in the first half of the year against quality / established teams. So bottom line is that Fergy may be fading (I hope not), but this year he  needs to be solid or he will be considered over paid and a fading vet.

Vinny Cammarato
Vinny Cammarato

When Ferguson came in he was a little light. He is a solid LT but never as dominant as a guy picked this spot should be. His run blocking is meh, he never dominates. 

kniff
kniff

We need Brick and Mangold to get us through this season... big time.

I would also love to see them both retire as Jets.

a57se
a57se

What Brick accomplished in 2009 has little to do with his performance now. The last line of the quote is the key: "But if 2013 is any indication, Ferguson’s best years are behind him."  Brick is not getting any younger and will never be the player he was 5 years ago. He, like Mangold, are in decline and the Jets HAVE to take that into consideration if we are to build for the future.

Bent
Bent moderator

@Hanknaples  You didn't read the first paragraph of my article did you?

McGeorge
McGeorge

@Bent  Bent, if you find an article/analysis  that you consider interesting, I'd be happy to hear about it.


... provided it's not from Mike Francessa 

wilkerson
wilkerson

@Bent  I'd never really complain about posting any information, as it's all good. Although Matt Miller has a huge and well-known anti-Jets bias, so it might be worth mentioning that in the posts. He had the Jets as No. 32 in his power rankings for 2013, so that's pretty telling, and he was obviously wrong about Sheldon Richardson (among others).

Bent
Bent moderator

 It doesn't say they are better than Eli.  It says he played worse than them in 2013.


There are a multitude of reasons why a player could have a dip in form like that but it doesn't define your ability.

harold
harold

Scott Tolzien being better than anyone is a joke.  He couldn't even start over Matt Flynn, who lost out to Terrell Pryor.

johnnyl65
johnnyl65

@nesboogie  I'm sure if this turns out to be true he will have a larger role than TE coach,he was great with minimizing penalties and clock management.

Brendan
Brendan

@frustjetfn  Carolina and Cleveland were top-10 defenses and Miami was one of the better teams at generating pressure. 



Brendan
Brendan

@Vinny Cammarato  


Harold, this is who I was referring to. 


Vinny, Brick has been an elite-level LT for like 6 years. He took a year or two to fully develop his strength, but when he's not babysitting the LG, he's a tremendous player. Is he as consistent in run blocking as you would hope? No, probably not. But from '08-'10 he was an elite run blocker. That is not an exaggeration. He landed just outside the top-10 on PFF in this regard in '08, was 5th in '09 and top-10 in '10. When he had good players around him, he was great. When he was babysitting LG's, he wasn't as good. 


Brick has been fantastic for this team, I really wish people would give him his due as one of the best OL the team has ever had. 

Brendan
Brendan

@kniff  Definitely. Seeing them drafted and retiring together would be so, so cool. Very rare nowadays. Brandon Moore did it, it'd be cool of his two linemates did it, too. 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se  They both have multiple seasons left of above-average play. I'm all for planning ahead, but there are immediate needs that should take precedent. 

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

@Brendan @frustjetfnToo high level to make your point stronger. The real issue then would be who Fergy was lined up against in the last four games vs who he opposed when he surrendered 8 sacks and 4 QB hits.

I suspect that neither of us has the time to dig into this, but who cares? I just hope that Idzik does have someone on staff looking into all these stats and analyzing potential weaknesses. - 'nuff said.

harold
harold

There is no major decline in these players.  I keep going back to the eye test.  Who as a Jets fans has ever gone into a game worried about Bricvk or Mangold.

Anyone who is voicing concern on these guys, you are reaching.

Bent
Bent moderator

@frustjetfn @Brendan  You're asking which players beat him in the four games where he didn't get beat?  :o/

frustjetfn
frustjetfn

@Brendan @frustjetfnWasn't talking team level; was talking player (i.e., which players beat him and what moves did they use? Also, do they see detect an erosion in his ability to defend against such moves as he gets older? But no sense for us to go into that level of detail unless we're paid to. I trust Idxik, Rex, MM and the OL coach to know that and address it accordingly.

harold
harold

Thank you Bent!

Hopefully this puts an end to the nonsense that Brick is done or even close to it.

As we developed consistency on offense Brick had limited sacks and pressure . 

Wow!

Bent
Bent moderator

@williamg1 @Brendan @frustjetfn  


Against the Panthers he was blocking against a Pro Bowler, Greg Hardy.  Against Miami he was blocking against Olivier Vernon, who had double digit sacks on the year.


The competition he faced against the Raiders (Lamar Houston) and Browns (a mixture of Mingo, Sheard and Kruger) was not exactly elite, but no worse than average.

williamg1
williamg1

@Brendan @frustjetfn  The key is who he was lining up against -- not the overall defense the Jets were playing against. 


I have no idea of who he went up against in those final four games, but it would be interesting to see. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @frustjetfn 

Some of that was due to Geno holding the ball too long while the last few games he took off running more often.

Brendan
Brendan

@frustjetfn What you're asking for is one of the basic functions of PFF, they give you this information on a per-game basis. 


He gave up zero sacks, zero QB hits and 4 pressures in the final month of the season. 


He gave up 3 sacks to the Pats in 2 games, 2 to Miami in one game, and 1 against Cincy/Balt/Atl. 

williamg1
williamg1

@jaygo @williamg1  Media view?


I'M QUOTING MANAGEMENT'S OWN WORDS! 


Idzik = Management!



“It’s an open competition not only at quarterback, but at all positions on our roster. That will hold not only throughout the entire year, but hold as long as I’m here."


--John Idzik


By listening to Idzik, I'm taking the media's view? 

williamg1
williamg1

@jaygo  I'm familiar with Milliner being a top recruit out of high school (as was Joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, etc). 


I'm not quite sure what his recruit status in high school has to do with him being benched multiple times as a pro. 


And, please refrain from attributing comments to me, that I did NOT write. 


Where did I say Milliner should be benched forever? Where? In fact, I've said time after time that he was the most improved player, and that I expect him to be even better than Bosshogg, and that he will make a probowl before Bosshogg. 


But that doesn't change the fact that the way he was handled was inconsistent with the competition slogan used by Idzik and the organization. 



williamg1
williamg1

@jaygo @williamg1  


Idzik's words: 


 “It’s an open competition not only at quarterback, but at all positions on our roster. That will hold not only throughout the entire year, but hold as long as I’m here."


How long did that last? 

williamg1
williamg1

@jaygo @williamg1  How can you say the competition thing was only about Sanchez and Geno, when the whole team was told it?


Vlad was the starter, and had a single bad performance before being benched. 


If competition really did matter, why wasn't Winters sent back to the bench when he "out-worsed" Vlad? 


When Dee Milliner is benched multiple times in the season, how is he given the starting role back immediately? He wasn't good enough to even be in the game, yet he is given a starting job the next week? 


There is no way that's consistent the "competition" motto. 

williamg1
williamg1

@jaygo @a57se @Brendan  


Jaygo, the flaw in that argument is that we (and, I assume, Jets players) were told that its all about competition. We heard that nonstop all preseason. That was basically the organization motto that Idzik brought in. 


And, actions showed that competition didn't matter. 

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se IMO? That would've yielded the best results of the three players. 

a57se
a57se

@kniff @Brendan 

I'm wondering what 2013 would have looked like if we had just kept Vlad in at LG and had brought Milliner along slowly instead of starting him.

Brendan
Brendan

@kniff It definitely hurt 2013, no argument there. Even if Slauson had the same season, it would've probably translated to a more efficient offense. I'm actually very interested in Winters vs. Slauson in 2014. Slauson (once again) finished on a downward slope, while Winters started to figure it out. 

kniff
kniff

@Brendan @kniff  Fair enough Brendan, good points there... but one must wonder what 2013 would have looked like with Brick, Slausen, Mangold, Colon, and Howard...

Vlad, and Winters, there for depth....

Brendan
Brendan

@kniff I wouldn't go that far. 


Slauson is good, he's not elite, and he also had a few instances where he let internal stuff out to the media. 


I liked him, especially his mean streak as a blocker, but I don't think we're going to be looking at letting him walk as a "HUGE" mistake in a couple years. Slauson was still just average last year, struggling big time in the 2nd half of the year. 

harold
harold

O-lineman can play well into there 30's at a high level ,barring major injuries which both of these guys have avoided.

Yes, we need a 4 year plan on these guys,

Not a one year plan.

a57se
a57se

@bklyndude @harold 

I really don't care too much about his ranking. His play has not been as good as it was earlier in his career even when he had Slauson at his side. That said, he is still better then a lot of LT's in the league.

bklyndude
bklyndude

@harold

I'm sure his ranking would be better if he played with an above average LG and QB. 

These rankings without some context are less than completely accurate.  Jets fans can worry themselves about other positions before LT and C.

a57se
a57se

@harold  

When two players turn 30, it is time to start thinking about how much longer they are going to be effective. Granted, Brick and especially Mangold have played at such a high level that a slight fall-off in play is still better than most in the league.

I am not talking about panicking and selecting OT's and C's in the first three rounds. I am suggesting we need to have solid back-ups ready in case of injury (the older they get, the more chance of injury) and like some others have noted on this Blog before, it is better to let them go a year early than a year late.

Brendan
Brendan

@harold  There's always been a contingent of fans who was rough on Brick (I AM NOT REFERRING TO YOU, 57). I remember people griping about him in '12 when he 2 sacks the entire season.