BGA: The Double Team Project – Part 5 (Wilkerson)

Traditional statistics and most modern analytics measure how effective a player is without necessarily taking into account assignments or degree of difficulty. While I’ve made passing reference in my game analysis to how often certain players have been double teamed, nobody tracks this, so I’ve been keen to figure out whether the reality matches up to our expectations and my recollection from watching the film.

In part one of this series, I set out my methodology for charting every snap from the 2013 season and went through some of the things I learned from undertaking this task. In part two, I started to share the data in respect of those plays when the Jets were rushing the passer. Most recently, I started to share the data in respect of those plays when the Jets were defending the run. We’ve since to make comparisons with other players around the league to start making some viable conclusions, looking at nose tackles in part four and, today, Muhammad Wilkerson.

After the jump, we’re going to try and put Wilkerson’s 2013 season into context, by comparing his numbers to those of some similar players and also by looking back at the numbers for 2012.

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NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

RT Breno Giacomini not worried about time lost in OTAs with Willie Colon

Free agent acquisition and Jets starting right tackle Breno Giacomini told the Newark Star-Ledger that he is not concerned with the lack of reps he was able to log with Willie Colon during the springs organized team activities.

Colon tore his bicep in the season finale against the Dolphins and then had arthroscopic surgery on his knee (TJB, May 28) this spring after signing a one-year deal (TJB, March 15) with the team in March.

“Training camp is where you really tighten those nuts and bolts down,” former Seattle Seahawk Giacomini told Darryl Slater of the Star-Ledger. “But Willie knows what he’s doing. That’s the best part. He knows the offense. He’s got it down.”

“I’m not really too worried about (Colon’s inability to participate),” Giacomini continued.  “All we’ve got to do, really, is work on double teams (in blocking).”

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Colon rated as the league’s 16th best right guard in the league in 2013, playing particularly well on passing downs.  Giacomini’s handled himself well in 2013 for Seattle and his presence might increase the Jets ability to run more effectively in conjunction with Colon.

As a general rule, offensive linemen thrive on consistency and routine.  They like knowing who will be lining up next to them on each and every snap.  Knowing that and working in such a setup as soon as possible in the offseason / preseason makes sense especially when there are new pieces inserted, which Giacomini himself is after Austin Howard’s departure for the Raiders.

As for Colon? The Bronx native is expected to be ready (Star-Ledger, May 29) for the Jets at the start of training camp.

It makes sense why Giacomini would be asked the question, but Giacomini is right to downplay it until training camp.  Should Colon not be ready to go at the start or quickly after, then the Jets players will be asked repeatedly about the matter.

The Rundown: Do you see what I see?

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

In the last few days, the Jets head coach and the team’s likely quarterback have had some exuberant things to say about their team.

Ryan spoke to the New York Daily News about his expectations for the season.  Will 8-8 suffice?

“I believe we’re better than that. I believe we’re a lot better than that,” Ryan told the Daily News. “Eight and eight would be a hell of a disappointment for us. I’m just telling you that I believe this team is on the cusp of doing some special things. . . . I’m confident we will be a playoff team.”

NFL: New York Jets at Miami DolphinsWhat are the national analysts missing when it comes to this team?

“What they’re missing is — and this isn’t their fault — is they don’t see what I see in the building every day,” Ryan said. “I think it’s a transition year, but we’re going to bring it to another level. I know where I want this team to go and that’s where I expect this team to go. So, you know, are we a better team? Dang right. . . . That may be a fact that we’re rebuilding this team, but by no means does that mean that I don’t expect to improve on where we were.”

[..]

“I think time’s going to tell how much better we are,” Ryan said. “I believe this football team is a hell of a lot better right now than we were at any point last year.”

Beyond his team, Rex thinks he’s a pretty OK coach too … and isn’t afraid to say it.

Rex’s quarterback and second year player Geno Smith seems optimistic as well.

“I feel good about our team making a Super Bowl run,” Smith said earlier in July to NFL Network. “You know, why not us?”

Meanwhile in New England, Patriots fans and their most disgraced columnist will go out of their way to take offense.

Why not you? Because you play in the same division as Tom Brady.

Why not you? Because you play in the same division as Bill Belichick.

Why not you? Because you play in the same division as the Patriots, who have won 11 of the past 13 division titles.

Why not you? Because you haven’t even won the division since 2002.

Why not you? Well, you.

Apologies to Ron Borges and all of New England for everyone not adopting the Patriot way as the only way to win at football.  I know it’s won the Patriots a bunch of titles, specifically the ones in the last ten years …

Heaping gasoline on a Foxboro dumpster fire, Ryan followed up his comments in an recent interview with the New York Post by saying it is the Patriots who should be worrying about the Jets.

“Somebody asked me if we focus on New England. Bullsh–,” Ryan told The Post. “We’re focused on us. We’re focused on us and how are we going to be better. I have to be honest, I don’t worry about them. They need to worry about us. I think that’s really where we’re at now.”

The Patriots offense still has questions, but the Pats defense might finally emerge from the ashes, led by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner in the secondary and a healthy Vince Wilfork up front.

Regardless of what the Patriots might be doing, Ryan told the New York Daily News that change comes from within and for an fanbase and organization that was caught in an spiral before he arrived, a jarring change was required.

“When I came in from Day One, this team was way different back then,” Ryan said of his previous Super Bowl guarantees. “This team just lost Brett Favre, a Hall-of-Fame quarterback. This team had that same moniker, ‘Same Old Jets.’ Well, I wanted everyone to know. I wanted to make damn sure they knew that it wasn’t the Same Old Jets and it was never going to be the Same Old Jets as long as I was here. And so I think that’s why I said what I said. I wanted to make sure my team believed that I believed that we were going to win Super Bowls.”

“Now, it’s more the fact that, ‘Hey look, I know who we are,’ ” he added. “My team is very well aware of who we are. But if (making Super Bowl predictions) will add pressure where we can’t be at our very best and possibly add some fuel to the fire to the opponent, I don’t need to do that. So I’m not going to do it.”

Ryan knew that the team and the fanbase needed to get out of familiar patterns.  His brashness and boldness was the best way to do it and with the team’s talent, Ryan took the team to two AFC Championship games.  As Ghandi famously once said “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Rex toned down the rhetoric some last year for his new GM and it seems he won’t be making predictions about games in Arizona next February, but he believes in this team and isn’t afraid to say so.

He’s not alone, Bill Polian thinks the Jets are closer to relevance as well, but that it will come down to quarterback play … a familiar refrain for the Jets.

Personally?  I like the high hopes coming from the Jets.  It matches my feelings about this team.  It doesn’t bother me that the team’s coach and quarterback have lofty goals for this team and are willing to share them.  I’d much rather have players and coaches who expect the best from themselves than players who are resigned to something else.  I’ll never knock a player or coach for thinking they can win on any given Sunday.

I’ve always asserted that I don’t care whether the Jets coach is a media darling for his transparency or a Napoleonic despot.  All I care is that they can put together the best football team possible with the talent they were able to procure, know how to coach those plays and (most importantly) win.  If Ryan goes for his fourth straight season without a playoff berth, then all the questions that raised themselves last December are likely to come up again.

Ryan is positive and has good reason to be.  The team is deeper than it has been in three years.  The team filled the most crucial positions on offense through free agency.  The team has a potential quarterback of the future in Geno Smith along with a ripcord in Mike Vick.  The team’s 2013 rookies finished the season on an encouraging note.

Why not us?

Officials to crack down on defensive holding?

The biggest points of emphasis in the NFL’s annual officiating clinic were illegal contact and defensive holding, according to former NFL Vice President of Officiating and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira.

“Last time the NFL had this as a major emphasis was 2004,” Pereira further explained, “and the number of illegal contact fouls went from 79 to 191.”

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Many of the league’s very best defenses employ aggressive coverage between defensive backs and receivers. Over the years Rex Ryan and the Jets have managed to play aggressive but on the legal side of holding. Now with a younger group who are given the benefit of the doubt less in a year where there is a rules emphasis being made on holding? Either the defensive backs are going to have to play mistake free football or the defensive line is going to have to get to the QB that much sooner.

Conversely, this also might help the Jets passing attack if other teams can’t mug Marty Mornhinweg’s receivers.

TJB Hall of Fame – The Class of 2014

Before we get fully immersed in pre-camp preparations, let’s take this opportunity to wrap up TJB Hall of Fame week by sharing this year’s tribute articles and giving you one last chance to pay tribute and/or put forward a case for your favorites to be inducted next year.

Following another great collection of tribute articles recognizing great Jets and fan favorites and enabling us to go back and re-live some great moments of the past, we are proud to present your TJB Hall of Fame Class of 2014:

Ken O’Brien
– by Bent
Shaun Ellis
– by Jake Steinberg
Rich Caster
– by Bent
John Schmitt
– by Brian Bassett

There are obviously still plenty of worthy candidates that many of you would like to see selected for a tribute in future. We take a more detailed look after the jump. To read more of this story, click here

Impact players: Youth movement

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Over the next few days, we’re going to take a look at some key Jets players this season centered around a themes.  First up, we’ll look at five veterans who will need to have an important impact for this Jets team to fly high in 2014.

Antonio Allen (S) — Everyone will be looking at all the plays that rookie Calvin Pryor makes from the other safety spot, but the ceiling of this secondary might be determined by how much more comfortable Antonio Allen can get in coverage this season.  Ryan loves flexible safeties and Allen is solid in run support and is improving against the pass.  Allen will likely be deployed around the line, but we saw that he can hang with tight ends in coverage if he has some back-end help.  As the Jets look to take on a more Legion of Boom feel, Allen’s athleticism and college role as a hybrid linebacker/safety could help him become play the Kam Chancellor type role for this team.

coplesQuinton Coples (DE/OLB) — Eyes are now  turning to Quinton Coples, for right or wrong.  Jets great Joe Klecko might not have been the first or last to make comments questioning Coples, but we have to wonder if many will be eating their words come December.  It has been two years so far and he hasn’t seen the type of dominance that his linemates Mo Wilkerson or Sheldon Richardson saw within their first two years, but there’s been some mitigating circumstances.  After posting the highest sack total on the team in 2012 Coples suffered a broken ankle in training camp in 2013 and it significantly slowed his second season production.  Also, much was made of Coples “move” to linebacker, but we all know that in Rex’s scheme that’s a formality.  No one need worry about QC in man coverage with Julian Edelman from the slot. Coples rushed back to the team as soon as he could and had a slow start in his production but came on strong at the end, posting 3.5 of his 4.5 sacks in the last five games.  This season Coples has slimmed down and been training with some excellent players at his position.

Dee Milliner (CB) — If much of the offense’s questions revolve around Geno Smith, the same might be true for Milliner and this defense.  Can Milliner play the “shutdown” role at corner that Rex has always had with the Jets since joining the group in 2009?  Milliner follows in the shadow of Cromartie and Revis, no small feat.  While a lot will be required of Milliner, the utter dominance of the front seven will surely help.  While the Jets linebackers were the best part of the front seven early in Rex’s tenure, the overhaul on the D-line will allow Milliner to cover for less time thanks to the Sons of Anarchy pressuring the quarterback.

Geno SmithGeno Smith (QB ) – Though the rest of the world snickers at most mentions of the Jets, it’s hard not to consider Bill Polian’s words from yesterday’s NFL Insiders broadcast on ESPN.  Whether national analysts can see it or not, this team is significantly more talented than it has been in the last three years.  There were a number of good players already on this team before John Idzik acquired it; the team just needed to cut through the restrictive contracts and rebuild the depth and complementary pieces.  Even so, it all seems to hinge on what results the Jets can get from the quarterback spot.  Mike Vick is ready to take the reins should the need arise, but Vick’s play is not what it was at earlier points in his career and so Geno Smith is where the team is placing their hope.  This might be an ‘inflexion point’ year for Smith; we saw some improvement at the end of last season, but if the needle doesn’t continue to rise for him this year the Jets might return to the drawing board at the QB position next offseason.  Smith has tools: an accurate deep pass, good legs to scramble, velocity and touch.  But for Smith it will come down to moving the chains and turnovers.  With the increased talent, keeping the offense moving shouldn’t be as overwhelming a task as it was in 2013, but Geno has to cut down the turnovers to keep the Jets defense out of insurmountable situations.

Brian Winters (G) – Right now the Jets are logjammed at from the fifth to eighth(ish) spots on the offensive line.  The starting center and tackle positions are assured, but the guard spots along with their backups are up for grabs.  The Jets have drafted and acquired a number of pieces on the line that they will want to settle on as mid-term backups and potential future starters.  Last year Brian Winters struggled much of the season once he took over for Vlad Ducasse, but did show a spark at the end of the season.  Can he build on his rookie season and instill the coaching staff with enough the confidence in his play to allow the team to pluck another young backup into a starting role as well?

TJB Hall of Fame – Rich Caster

Today we wrap up this year’s TJB Hall of Fame class with one of the best players in the post Super Bowl win era, Rich Caster. We’ll be back tomorrow to wrap up.

Bent, TheJetsBlog.com

Since we came up with the idea for the TJB Hall of Fame, we’ve recognized plenty of players from the 1968-69 Super Bowl winning team and several guys picked up in the late seventies who went on to star for the Jets in the eighties. However, we’ve yet to recognize one player who was one of the Jets stars during that intervening period, so we’re setting that straight today by welcoming Rich Caster to the Class of 2014.

Caster joined the Jets as a wide receiver, before converting to tight end and reaching the pro bowl three times and then ultimately converting back to receiver. In his eight years as a Jet he caught 245 passes, including 36 touchdowns, and averaged 18.1 yards per catch.

While he arrived too late to participate in the Jets’ postseason success of the late sixties and left before the revival in the early eighties, Caster was a major bright spot on those struggling teams of the seventies, with his exciting big-play abilities.

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