Ryan McCrystal

Harrison Smith a liability against the run?

Minnesota Vikings 1st-round pick Harrison Smith was drafted for his coverage ability, but the free safety will be asked to step up against the run on occasion. And in his NFL debut, it looked like a may be a liability in that area.

According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was lined up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage on six run plays on Sunday against the Jaguars. And in those six plays, he was 0-for-2 on tackle attempts.

Smith did make two other tackles against the run, but only in situations where he was the last line of the defense (meaning he was lined up deeper than eight yards, presumably in anticipation of a potential pass play).

Obviously this is just one game and a very small sample size, but it’s a disappointing start for Smith. To be a three-down player at this level he’ll need to improve in this area.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Rookie Notes, Vikings Leave a comment

Breaking down Justin Blackmon’s debut

Jacksonville Jaguars 1st-round pick Justin Blackmon had an inauspicious debut against the Vikings on Sunday.

Blackmon was supposed to give the Jaguars a serious downfield threat, but just one of the five balls thrown his direction was more than 10 yards down the field.  Blaine Gabbert may be partly to blame for the lack of success, but it was also clear that Blackmon was struggling to get open.

Blackmon was primarily matched up with Vikings rookie Josh Robinson, a matchup which should have worked in Blackmon’s favor.

It won’t get any easier for Blackmon next week, as the Jaguars host the Texans.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Jaguars, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Jonathan Martin struggles in Dolphins debut

Miami Dolphins 2nd-round pick Jonathan Martin struggled to protect his fellow rookie, Ryan Tannehill on Sunday against the Texans.

Martin allowed one sack and four hurries in 40 pass plays. In other words, once every eight times Tannehill dropped back to pass, pressure was coming from the right side of the line.

Martin’s 12.5 pressure percentage allowed is an abysmal mark and one that needs to improve if the Dolphins rookie quarterback is going to find success this season. Martin was matched up with Texans right outside linebacker Connor Barwin for most of the game – a respectable pass rusher, but not nearly among the game’s elite. A more difficult matchup could spell serious trouble for the Dolphins offensive line.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Dolphins, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Weeden struggles with deep ball

Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden was in over his head on Sunday, and the more the stats are analyzed the worse it looks.

It was a long afternoon for Weeden.

It was apparent during the game that Weeden was struggling with the deep and intermediate passes, overthrowing multiple open receivers. According to Pro Football Focus, Weeden was 0-7 with two interceptions on balls thrown at least 10 yards downfield.

While everyone expected Weeden to struggle, no one expected this. In fact, his ability to get the ball downfield was supposed to be the area in which he provided the most significant upgrade over Colt McCoy. In 2011, McCoy completed just 44.1 percent of his passes beyond 10 yards – a disappointing number, but far better than Weeden’s opening game performance.

Looking beyond the stats, the concern with Weeden is the fact that he wasn’t just off target with his throws. He missed multiple open receivers, include two in the end zone, by a wide margin which killed multiple Browns drives.

To make matters worse, the Eagles front seven wasn’t applying much pressure to Weeden. He was pressured on 13 of his 38 dropbacks (34.2%) – that’s not an unreasonable performance by the offensive line. On plays when he wasn’t pressured, he completed just 10 of 24 passes (41.7%) including two interceptions. That’s a stat line that must improve dramatically if the Browns are going to generate any type of offense this year.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Browns, Rookie Notes Leave a comment

Doug Martin lives up to expectations in debut

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1st-round pick Doug Martin impressed in his debut, carrying the Bucs to a 16-10 victory over the Panthers.

Martin carried the ball 24 times for 95 yards and added another 23 yards on four receptions. And if there was any question as to who the feature back was in this offense, LeGarrette Blount had just four touches on the day (three rushes, one reception).

I had Martin as the 14th rated player on my board in this year’s draft, so his performance doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s a legitimate feature back and this game should simply set the tone for the rest of his season.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Buccaneers, Rookie Notes 1 Comment