Random notes from around the NFC East: DeMarco Murray’s lateral quicks, RG3 passing camp, and more Marty B

This is about as slow as it gets for a football blog.  90 degree heat every day (at least if you live anywhere near the east coast), the weekend just came and went, and now we’re 2 days from the 4th of July.  People are taking off from work (and therefore not reading football blogs), instead getting some fresh air, and/or drinking.  Awesome time of the year… just not for this.  I’ll still be writing away, just FYI, for those of you who have football OCD.

I’m in the process of putting together a podcast with Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.  We’re both Eagles fans, and while they’ll get a lot of attention, the focus will be on the NFL in general, and I’m sure we’ll do a lot of talking about the NFCE.  We don’t have a name yet for it, so if anyone has any suggestions, we’re open to any ideas.  There are basically two types of names for football podcasts: Cheesy or boring as hell.  I’m not sure what Tommy prefers, but my personal preference is cheesy.  OK, back to football.

- Evan Silva of Rotoworld spoke with Greg Cosell about a number of running backs.  The first one they started with was DeMarco Murray.   Good read in its entirety, but here’s a quick snippet:

“There’s very few long runs in the NFL where guys run in a straight line. That doesn’t happen very much. In the NFL, you must really be able to create space for yourself in confined areas. And the way you create space in confined areas is with lateral movement. And if you can’t do that, you have limitations as a runner. And (Murray) did that much better than I anticipated based on his college tape.”

Personally, I kind of thought of DeMarco as sort of straight-liney last season, which would differ from Cosell’s take.  I trust his judgment better than my own though, especially since I’m relying on what I remember as opposed to what I’ll assume is recent film study on his end.  I think the one play that stands out in my head of Murray last season was his 91 yard TD run against the Rams that was pretty much a straight-liner, with one simple cut to turn Quintin Mikell around once he got into the open field:

I think I’ll go back and look at a little more tape of DeMarco and try to see what Cosell sees.

More after the jump…

- Jared Allen thinks he can put up 25 sacks in one season.  He also thinks DeMarcus Ware is capable of that number as well.  Allen and Ware are as good of candidates as any, but I’d would add another 5-6 guys to that list who I think are capable of that number if a lot of things fall into place for them.  One thing I know with almost absolute certainty is that Michael Strahan’s sack record is going down… and very soon.  A few reasons:

  • The NFL is extremely pass happy nowadays.
  • There are a large number of QBs that have wheels and will look to extend plays rather than throw the ball away.  That will lead to more sacks.
  • Offensive line play in the NFL has become an epidemic.
  • It’s a golden age for pass rushers.  Lots of really, really good ones.

22.5 is very doable.  I think it’s about 50/50 that someone breaks that record this year.

- My buddy Derek of the legendary, zombie-like IgglesBlog (“zombie-like” since it occasionally comes back from the dead), contributed to the EaglesAlmanac we published a week ago.  He had so many leftover notes from his research for the Almanac, that he put up three posts on his otherwise dust-collecting corner of the Internet.  Definitely worth a look.

- Donovan McNabb apparently is looking at three teams as a possible landing spot for his services, and thinks there’s an 80-90 percent chance he’ll play this year.  Not to sound too harsh here, especially since I was a fan of McNabb for so many years, but does anyone really care about McNabb anymore?  That’s a serious question.  I know I don’t.  Just curious if anyone else does.

- Robert Griffin III convinced teammates to work out with him in an informal passing camp in Waco, TX.  Impressive.  Very impressive.  I know that RG3′s alma mater Baylor is in Waco, but when I think of Waco, I think two things:

It’s July.  Think it’s hot here on the East Coast (for those of you that live in my neck of the woods)?  Try 98 degrees with over 50% humidity.  You don’t follow your rookie QB to Waco in July if you don’t believe in him.

- Kevin at Hogs Haven chronicled Lorenzo Alexander’s flight troubles.  As a bonus, I got to be reminded of how much I disliked Jorrick Calvin as a kick returner for the Eagles (not that Dion Lewis was any better).

- More Marty B!  NFL.com’s Brian McIntyre thinks Martellus Bennett could be in for a breakout year, and noted that Cowboys QBs had a 65% completion percentage whenever they threw Bennett’s way:

As we noted last week, Bennett was targeted just 130 times with the Cowboys, or 7.3 percent of the time he was on the field. The surprising thing is Bennett took advantage of his limited opportunities, catching 85 passes (good for a 65 percent catch rate) for 846 yards with four touchdowns in 60 games.

65% is right on par with Tony Romo’s and Jon Kitna’s completion percentages over that span.  As I noted a week ago, 46 of Bennett’s 50 receptions over the past 2 years fell exclusively into 5 buckets:

  • Short (2-10 yard) stop routes
  • TE screens
  • Nobody was open, the play broke down, and the QB found Bennett as a safety valve
  • The misdirection screen, AKA the “Oh shit” screen
  • Shallow crosser

And just for the sake of getting my money’s worth out of the graph I created for that piece, here it is again:

Anyway, the point here is that when you’re almost never catching anything more than 10 yards down the field, a catch rate of 65% is definitely not good, especially when your QB is already hitting on that kind of percentage anyway, making far more difficult throws down the field.  Mike Garafolo of NJ.com asked Bennett about his route options and whether or not he had fewer of them in Dallas.  It doesn’t seem like it’s much different in NJ.

36 Comments

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  12. My Homepage says:

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  14. rational says:

    there is a lot more to running the football than “lateral quicks”! Don’t be fooled because you Eagles fans have LeSean McCoy and he probably has the best lateral quickness in the NFL. Vision and finishing runs while setting up your blocks is an attribute that you guys want to overlook. I give kudos to Andy Reid in putting the Eagles offense together and having the foresight to see how each piece could potentially complement the other. A backfield with LeShean McCoy and Michael Vick is genius. The outside speed of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin opens that backfield up even more. If they had a great tight end, they would be unstoppable. However, each part of the equation is nothing that should be over-valued. DeSean Jackson is probably the most adaptable player to other systems although he has health and character concerns. Jeremy Maclin would barely be a number two on any other team (don’t give me stats please, the point is how these players complement eachother). LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick benefit from each other so much……just as Chris Johnson benefited from Vince Young’s mobility. All of this speed leaves Vick gaping holes to run through. Also, the unbelievable quickness of Jason Peters to adjust to pass rush (around Vick’s play), ability to get down-field to block for these types of players with his overall weight and run blocking ability is inhuman. However, I believe the adjustments that the off season brings along with losing Peters (who will never be the same after rupturing his Achilles tendon twice at this stage in his career) along with an otherwise average offensive line will reduce the complementary nature of these players as there will be less time for the master plan to manifest on any given play.
    In addition, the match-up that I am looking forward too is seeing how the Eagles offense and Cowboys Defense match-up this year. What will two corner’s with supreme strength, length and press coverage ability do to Philadelphia’s slight receivers? Will the speed of those receivers negate the press coverage approach all together? How will the upgrade in speed at MLB change the match-up between the linebackers and the Philadelphia backfield along with Vick’s scrambling ability. Whole new ball game I think. Very interesting. I also would like to add that injuries to Philadelphia’s skill positions are more critical to their team than any other team (and their potential skill position injuries) in the league. I am a Cowboys fan, so I don’t wish them good health.

  15. Gordon Tyron says:

    Amazing how a guy can take such a raw, simplistic stat like “he caught 65% balls” and not take into consideration the actual throws he caught. Half of which were screens

  16. realtick says:

    Martellus Bennett is going to see his numbers increase for a few reasons:

    1) By default; barring injury he’s likely the Giants #1 TE option.

    2) The Giants aren’t stupid, they’ll find a way to make use of Bennett.

    Bennett was a bit underappreciated in Dallas as a blocker. As a receiver he didn’t warrant any confidence in fans. I wonder what’s the over/under with Giants fans before they get tired of Bennett’s on-the-field loafing, off-the-field shenanigans?

    1. DerfDiggy says:

      Well, you’re giving him the benefit of the doubt, for whatever reason. Maybe he was underappreciated in dallas for his blocking, but his attitude, questionable work ethic, and seemingly lack of focus in practice and games made him expendable.

      Can he be the #1 TE in an offense? Sure…was it worth it to Dallas to continue to wait for him to step up and make himself the #1 TE? Probably not. Cut ties, and look for someone else to push for playing time against Witten.

      Jimmy gets such a bad wrap as a GM…deservedly so at times…but that’s a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. Re-up Bennett’s contract and he doesn’t produce, and Jerry’s throwing money at mediocre players….Let him go and he goes on to play well, and Jerry’s not a good judge of talent.

      It is what it is, at this point I’d rather the Front Office not lock up a mediocre player with “Elite Talent”, than the alternative.

      Although that statement goes completely against my stance on Spencer……..soooooo….:(

      1. Trueblue63 says:

        The Cowboys didn’t make a mistake letting Bennett walk. He couldn’t break thru and giving him another deal would only encourage him to sleepwalk thru more seasons. Having a one year deal with a new team, that has a rep for “no nonsense”, guys doing their jobs and a QB that made Ballard look great means he has to put up or shut up.

        Some of Giants fans happiness with Bennett is that he provides some veteran depth to a depleted position, it’s better than going into camp with Christian Hopkins and no one.

  17. Dawkins20 says:

    For the podcast:

    Blitzing the Beast.

    Preserve your brands as much as possible :)

    1. deg0ey says:

      I like that…”Blitzing the Beast with JK and T-Law” because every podcast needs presenters with gangster nicknames that they’re too old to pull off ;-)

      1. How dare you >:(

  18. Trueblue63 says:

    Not to be a spoil sport, but the graph on Bennett is dependent on what they asked him to run. If as a 2nd TE, that’s what he ran 90-95% of the time, it’s going to generate the completions. Perhaps you should compare it to other teams that used 2 TEs and how their receptions were clustered.

    And it’s really hard to know what completion pct to any single WR means. I think that it would be very hard for Bennett to break out though, I don’t imagine that TC/KG are going to shift away from the WRs complemented by the running game.

    1. From that same post, whenever they threw to Marty past 10 yards, they were 4/10 for about 70 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT. 2 of the INTs were definitely on Marty, the 3rd was debatable.

      1. DerfDiggy says:

        lmaooo were the 2 because he bobbled the pass and it bounced into a defenders arms? I distinctly remember at least 2 occassions that happened. I wanted JG/Romo to avoid Bennett at all costs after that. Seemed like no matter the circumstance something bad seemed to happen whenever there was a pass to Marty B.

        1. Yep, last year in Philly, and he had a drop on a high pass against the Titans.

      2. Trueblue63 says:

        So he’s getting one target over 10 yds every third game, and we’re going to try to draw meaningful conclusions. OK. I’d say the Giants were probably more aware of Bennett’s tape than anyone, I’m pretty sure Reese knows his shortcomings. TC too. Given the Giants offense I’m pretty sure they figure Marty will block like a third OT, and learn how to catch the move the chains balls when he is wide open.

        In the meantime, Adrien Robinson, will get 2nd TE snaps, and hone his blocking and route running skills. So that if Bennett is a bust, they can waive good bye and move on.

        Hard to see how Bennett really backfires. (note that I’m not saying he’ll be all pro or even around 2 years)

    2. Blue says:

      Marty B actually ran a lot of seam routes over the last two years. It’s notable because while he was never thrown to he seemed to always draw linebacker/safety double teams.

      So he was running vertical routes.

  19. Jimmer says:

    McNabb and T.O. are basically relegated to clown status now. Sad really, great players in their day. I wish they would just go away though.

  20. Euler.is.a.pimp says:

    Oooh a graph. Watchout Football Outsiders – Jimmy is dropping advanced stats on you now.

  21. DerfDiggy says:

    BBQ, Alchohol, sweating, and waiting for football is what my life consists of. Keep the articles coming, Jimmy. Great poolside reading on the weekends….Especially with these freak storms hitting the east coast…Half of Maryland is without power…my cell phone + football sites are a reprieve from sitting in the dark with no AC…

    1. And the occasional screaming kid, no?

      1. DerfDiggy says:

        Haha, I know everyone says it…”My kid is pretty good”…..but I’d say for the most part my son doesn’t scream unless he’s tired or hungry. Sleeps 10-13 hours a night, and doesn’t whine or cry for no good reason. I cannot complain at all, coming from an 8 month old. I imagine I’m in for some trouble here soon though.

        How’s your little one doing?

        1. It was rough for a little while with the screaming, but we figured out she had a milk allergy and she’s been great ever since.

  22. ProtoTyler says:

    Jimmy, just for reference, my brother goes to school/lives there off and on during the summer in Arlington, VA (right outside of DC). And it was triple digits with a 50-75% humidity 3 out of the last 4 days. Might have actually been cooler in Texas…haha

    1. DerfDiggy says:

      Yep…my extended family is in San Antonio, and they say while it’s been hot, it hasn’t been unbearable. My immediate family is all in or around Virginia/Maryland, and the temps have been in the upper 90′s with an unbearable humidity. Just ridiculous…..disgusting….weather.

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