Old Mother Hubbard: 2011 Post-Draft Heat Map

>> 6.01.2011

Without further ado, your 2011 Detroit Lions, as they exist post-draft, as graded by Pro Football Focus:

The 2011 Detroit Lions team needs heat map, powered by Pro Football Focus grades and The Lions In Winter's Old Motherr Hubbard analysis.

click for big

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

  • All of the above colors represent that player's Pro Football Focus "overall" grade for 2011.
  • The grades have been banded into tiers, one half of one standard deviation from the mean for each position. Green is good, Red is bad, Gray indicates insufficient 2010 snaps, a rookie, or a hazy depth chart.
  • The main (inside) color is the presumed starter for 2011. The exterior ring is the presumed backup.
  • As a reminder, PFF's overall grade weighs penalties strongly; Corey Williams would be several tiers higher if not for his 13 penalties. PFF’s grade also tends to value consistency over sporadic big plays.
  • Brandon Pettigrew is the “starting” TE; Tony Scheffler the #2.
  • Nate Burleson is the #1 X receiver and #1 Y receiver; I anticipate he will be the X in 2-WR sets and Y in 3-WR sets.
  • Titus Young is the #2 X receiver and #2 Z receiver; I anticipate he will be the X in 3-WR sets.
  • Jahvid Best is the #1 RB; Mikel LeShoure the #2.
  • Quarterback data is not normalized, so I have not included it.
  • Corey Williams is the starting Nose Tackle (1-technique); Sammie Hill the #2.
  • Ndamukong Suh is the starting Over Tackle (3-technique); Nick Fairley the #2.
  • KVB and Lo-Jack are the #1 and #2 LDEs, respectively.
  • Cliff Avril and Willie Young are the #1 and #2 RDEs, respectively.
  • Bobby Carpenter and Ashlee Palmer are the starting RLB and LLB, respectively.
  • Chris Houston is CB1, Nate Vasher CB2, and Alphonso Smith NCB.
  • Amari Spievey is the LS, and Louis Delmas the RS.

12 comments:

the3rdHeat,  June 1, 2011 at 11:21 PM  

Ty-

Great article. Two (well four I guess...) questions for you:

1. Do you think we will see a significant rise in the number of snaps LoJack gets this season? Do you think he may overtake KVB as a starter?

2. Do you think they will bring anyone in to compete for the starting center position? Do you think Raiola's poor play this season was due to having to pick up Peterman's slack at times due to his foor injury?

Matt,  June 2, 2011 at 4:30 AM  

Mind if I take a crack at 'em?

1. Depends on what you mean by "significant," but, yes, he'll play more snaps. And no, he won't overtake KVB. LoJack was a nice surprise last season and will definitely overtake Turk McBride on the depth chart (probably would've been ahead of him from the get-go, but Turk already had time in the system). However, KVB is a respected (especially by the Lions' staff) veteran, a leader on and off the field, and still has a little tread left on the tires. The job is his too lose, not LoJack's to win - meaning it would take a massive drop in production and/or another injury for KVB to drop out of the starting line-up. Especially given the lack of off-season work, I don't see that there's a lot LoJack can do to win the job.

2. No, it's way too late. Like KVB, Raiola, for better or worse, is an established veteran starter and leader on this team. Perhaps more important to his job security, though, is that he plays center - the most mentally demanding position on the field after QB. Again, thanks to the lack of off-season programs, it'd be virtually impossible for another player to come in and actually compete/challenge for the starting spot. Every day that the lockout continues is one less day of preparation for a new center (or any other player, for that matter). You might find a guy who can physically compete with Raiola, but not mentally. As for the second part of the question, I am by no means an expert on o-line play, so I can't really comment. However, Peterman's troubles certainly didn't HELP Raiola. If the line stays relatively healthy/intact in 2011 and Raiola's play perks back up, then 2010 was an aberration and everything's cool. If it doesn't, then the Lions will seriously look for a replacement after the 2011 season. And either way they've got to start at least thinking about an "heir apparent" if not a flat-out replacement.

Matt,  June 2, 2011 at 4:37 AM  

Ty, I think your diagram illustrates the underlying problem with the Lions' defense. Their LBs and Ss are lining up WAAAAY too deep. ;-)

randomguy313 June 2, 2011 at 8:45 AM  

@Matt: Sadly the way Greg Jennings was getting by them they may not be deep enough :/

Ty June 2, 2011 at 10:18 AM  

the3rdHeat--

Thanks! Matt did a great job of answering your questions, but my two cents:

1. Yes, Lo-Jack will get significantly more snaps this season, partly because he didn't really see the field until KVB went down. I think KVB will start, but they may split reps as much as 50/50. It'll keep KVB fresh, and get one of the Lions' better players on the field more.

What interests me about the way this works out is, KVB and Jackson (the bigger two of the Lions' four full-time DEs) seem to be playing almost exclusively on the right side, as a nine-tech rush end. That leaves Avril and Young (the smaller two) on the left.

Since the LDEs will be facing RTs and sometimes TE chips--and, theoretically, more rushing attempts, usually the LDE will be bigger, and a better run defender. Further, the nine is where the best pure rush end usually goes . . .

It's probably because KVB-at-his-best is the prototypical rush end for this system, and Avril was "the other good end" at the beginning of the year. Now, though, I wonder if the four ends shouldn't swap sides? Maybe they'll be hurt more by switching sides than they'll gain by more closely matching their natural role? Hmm.

Peace
Ty

Ty June 2, 2011 at 10:25 AM  

Oh jeez, I didn't do 2!

2. I made no bones about wanting to draft a developmental center this year, because it's such a crucial position and Raiola's already showing signs of decline. However, we're not going to find a guy off the scrap heap who's going to come in and play better--and moreover, this line returning whole for the first time in forever is going to be huge.

I think it's less a case of Raiola helping Peterman, and more that Raiola was getting no help from Peterman. Raiola's a finesse guy, a technique-y pass blocker who's great in the second level. If the guards can do the mashing, the inside run game will be fine--but with Raiola and Peterman both getting pushed around, there's just no hope.

Peace
Ty

Ty June 2, 2011 at 10:33 AM  

Matt--

Yeah, I waffled on how deep to put the 'backers and safeties. Last time, I think I got the relative depths right--but it looked too "stacked," or busy, or something. I think this reads better, though I probably should nudge them up a little to retain some semblance of realism.

Peace
Ty

randomguy313 June 2, 2011 at 11:12 AM  

Ty, did you use ASF editor for your images or did you just a photoshop program?

Ty June 2, 2011 at 11:15 AM  

randomguy313--

First, sigh at the Greg Jennings comment.

Second, I use the GiMP:

http://www.gimp.org/

It's an open-source Photoshop-type image editor.

Peace
Ty

Matt,  June 2, 2011 at 1:54 PM  

Actually, Ty, using more of a speed/finesse rusher on the left side is something the Tennessee Titans began pioneering under head coach Jeff Fisher, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and defensive assistant/quality control JIM SCHWARTZ in 1999 and continued during the Fisher/Gunther/Schwartz regime. The Titans drafted Jevon Kearse in '99 and plugged him in at LEFT defensive end. He would go on to win DROY while setting the rookie record for sacks in a season. In 2001, they moved Kearse to RDE when they traded for Kevin Carter (LDE). From '04 thru '07, Kearse played LDE for the Eagles, mostly opposite ND Kalu and Trent Cole. Kearse came back to Tennessee for the '08 season, where he again played LDE, this time opposite Kyle Vanden-Bosch (who was signed in '05 and was LDE until '07, when he switched to RDE). In '08, Tennessee's D-line of Kearse, KVB, Haynesworth, and Tony Brown combined for 20.5 sacks and 6 fumble recoveries. Reserve linemen William Hayes, Kevin Vickerson (GO GREEN!), Jason Jones (EMU!), and Dave Ball added another 12 sacks and 2 FRs. Sounds a lot like what the Lions are shooting for these days, no?

Anyway, I remember reading an article about Kearse being used a-typically against RTs rather than LTs/the typical QB's blindside. The idea was that, on average, RTs are not as good pass blockers as LTs, so the coaching staff wanted Kearse working against those guys. As far as TE/RB chipping goes, the rationale was that an offense can do that on either side of the field and an elite rusher like Kearse is going to face some sort of extra attention regardless of where he lines up. Instead of Kearse being double-teamed by a chipper and the offense's best blocker (their LT), have him get doubled by a chipper and a lesser pass blocker (the RT). Hopefully, your RDE, even if he's less talented, gets to go 1-on-1 vs. the LT. If the RDE is still the one demanding extra attention, then your badass LDE goes 1-on-1 with the theoretically inferior RT.

You are right to point out the issues having the smaller, finesse guy going against the RT can create for run defense (as evidenced by Avril's PFF ratings). The trade-off of weaker run defense for better pass rush is one Schwartz/Gunther are apparently willing to make.

Ty June 3, 2011 at 11:04 AM  

Matt--

Comment of the year. Thank you sir.

Peace
Ty

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