The New York Jets drafted Quinton Coples with the hope that he could help immediately solidify their defensive line. Unfortunately, through two games Coples has made little impact and doesn’t appear to be a significant part of their defensive game plan.
Coples played 32 of the Jets 63 defensive snaps in the season opener, recording just one quarterback hurry according to Pro Football Focus. On Sunday against the Steelers, Coples playing time was cut back to 16 snaps.
The Jets seem to be content to stick with their starters Mike DeVito and Muhammad Wilkerson, rather than use a deeper rotation. This leaves only a handful of snaps for backup defensive ends Coples and Marcus Dixon.
This strategy is somewhat surprising considering Coples status as a 1st-round pick and the fact that the rookie is just one injury away from being forced into significant action. The more playing time he gets early this season would seem to benefit the Jets in the long run.
Cleveland Browns 1st-round picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weedenpulled off a rare feat for a pair of rookies on Sunday afternoon against the Bengals.
Hopefully Weeden isn't the next Tony Banks
They became the first pair of rookie teammates to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game since 1996.
The down side to this accomplishment? The previous duo doesn’t exactly bring back memories of NFL greats.
On December 15, 1996, St. Louis Rams rookies Tony Banks and Lawrence Phillips lit up the scoreboard against the Atlanta Falcons. Unfortunately, Philips would go on to have just two more 100 yards games while Banks would throw for 300 just three more times.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie safety Mark Barron has the potential to be an elite player in this league, but one weakness he must improve upon is his coverage ability.
Barron will be tested by Eli Manning this week
Knowing Barron’s weakness, the Panthers targeted him in coverage seven times on Sunday, more than all but one safety in the league (D.J. Gomes, Redskins). Of the seven targets, five were completed for 91 yards.
Among all safeties, Barron earned the third lowest grade for his cumulative play (versus the run and pass) according to Pro Football Focus.
The Buccaneers didn’t draft Barron for his coverage ability, but they also can’t afford for him to become a liability if they hope to compete in 2012. Hopefully Barron quickly improves, because more performances like this will earn him a seat on the bench until he develops that aspect of his game.
Miami Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s NFL career didn’t get off to a great start against the Texans on Sunday, but if you’re looking for something positive to take away from the game it’s his performance under pressure.
According to Pro Football Focus, Tannehill completed 7 of 11 passes under pressure. Of the four incompletions, two were thrown away and one was dropped. So of his nine aimed passes, eight were on target. Unfortunately the other was intercepted.
Obviously struggles are expected of rookie quarterbacks. All you can do is learn from the mistakes and find one or two positives to build upon. While much of the game was frustrating for Tannehill, this is definitely one area where he showed his true potential.
The Pittsburgh Steelers gambled on Mike Adams in the 2nd round of the draft, taking a chance on a guy who never lived up to lofty expectations at Ohio State and who failed a drug test at the combine.
So far, it’s a gamble that hasn’t paid off. Adams was forced into action when Marcus Gilbert went down with an injury early in the Steelers Sunday night loss in Denvar. One the third play of his career, he was called for a penalty. He then went on to allow one sack and two hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.
Adams clearly has the size and athleticism to play at this level, but he’s never demonstrated the consistency necessary to handle the demands of the NFL. Gibert is expected to play this week against the Jets, so Adams will be back on the bench. But his performance certainly doesn’t instill confidence should Gilbert or left tackle Max Starks go down at any point this year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.