Cowboys-Giants: NFC East's Deadly Collection Of D Hogs

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 05, 2012



DeMarcus Ware vs Jake LongBy Shawn Maher
Cold, Hard Football Facts Butcher to the Stars

The NFL preseason has finally come to a merciful end.

We at the Hog Report anxiously count the milliseconds until tonight’s match-up between two of the fiercest collections of defensive linemen. And we will, of course, break down the Cowboys vs. Giants match-up.

This anticipation creates an oversight: it is very convenient to write off the preseason.

Final scores in the preseason are the most overrated statistic in all of football. It’s pointless to keep score, because the preseason is all about evaluation. Coaches want to see what they have on their roster, and how certain schemes will mesh the hogs in their stable.

Call it vanilla or call it a glorified practice. Either way, the Hog Report has crunched the preseason numbers and we have found a wealth of predictors for this nascent 2012 season.

 

Signs of Preseason Pig Slop?

An offensive or defensive line’s technique, strength and tenacity in a head-to-head match-up do not take a preseason off, and neither does the Hog Report.

In fact, when comparing the negative pass play percentage (NPP%) of the 2012 preseason to those in the 2011 Offensive and Defensive Hog Indices, that attitude writing off preseason football as “sloppy” is overblown.

2011 Regular Season OHI NPP%                  

9.23%

2012 Preseason OHI NPP%                         

9.69%

Difference:                                                         

0.46%

2011 Regular Season DHI NPP%               

9.13%

2012 Preseason DHI NPP%                           

9.55%

Difference:                                                         

0.42%

In both instances, the average was less than a half a percentage point worse. With that in mind, the Hog Report presents preseason Hog Index trends.

 

NFC East: The NFL’s Most Dangerous D-Hog Division

This should be no surprise when considering the division includes Philadelphia’s six-deep rotation at defensive end, New York’s Brady-baffling unit or DeMarcus Ware redefining the outside linebacker position in a 3-4 front.

The Redskins, however, have let the attention rest on RGIII while their D-Hogs have built upon a steady performance in 2011. Washington allowed only 3.41 YPA on the ground in the preseason, ranked third, which is a big reason for optimism.

NFC East Preseason D-Hog Rankings

Team

Overall Rank

NPP%

NPP% Rank

NY Giants

1st

14.19%

3rd

Philadelphia

2nd (tie)

15.67%

1st

Dallas

4th

11.03%

9th*

Washington

7th

12.07%

5th

*note that Dallas has been without Demarcus Ware this preseason. He racked up 19.5 sacks in 2011.   

   

Trench Warfare: New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys

Tonight’s season opener is especially sweet here at the Hog Report. With two of the most fear-inducing defensive lines taking the field, both offensive- line units will have their hands full.

Not surprisingly, the Giants and their patchwork offensive line finished dead last in the preseason Hog Index, allowing a 11.2 NPP% that pales in comparison to their 2011 sixth-ranked 7.13% mark. Eli Manning has a very quick release and can avoid a sack, but under the long shadow of D-Ware he will struggle to avoid reverting back to his interception-prone ways of 2010.

In that year he threw a league-high 25 completions to the wrong-colored jerseys.

Cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne would be wise to invest in a deluxe massage package for Ware today to help that tender hamstring.

The Cowboys’ offensive line, however, has performed better than the much-maligned reputation it garnered in 2011 and this year’s preseason. Once again showing that the Cold, Hard Football Facts can not be swayed by the hypnotic talking heads.

In 2011, the Cowboys’ offensive line finished ranked seventh in the Hog Index, with a middle of the pack NPP% of 8.37. Unsurprisingly, Romo had a career year, with a passer-efficiency rating of 102.5 and 4 fourth-quarter comebacks.

After an outstanding rookie season, tackle Tyron Smith has moved to the left side, sending Doug Free back over to the right. Smith has great length and plays with commanding leverage. His lateral quickness and underrated power will match up as well as about anyone can against Jason Pierre-Paul.

Free was never suited to be a left tackle, and his return to the right side will perhaps get him back on track. He is more in the power-heavy, quickness-deficient mold of a right tackle, but his strength will be put to the test against the mighty bull rush of Jason Tuck.

All these match-ups certainly look to be a ticket to Jerry Jones returning to the “glory-hole days.”

 

The Preseason Hog Index: Speak to Us, Oracle

Philip Rivers sacked vs CowboysThe Chargers O-Line: The Man of Mystery at Left Tackle

The San Diego offensive line in 2011 was nothing short of shocking, finishing second-overall due to a late-season surge. They jumped from sixth to second in the last week of the season and won four out of their last five games.

The addition of the mercurial Jared Gaither at left tackle was a boost for a line that struggled after losing Marcus McNeil and Kris Diehlman.

After a messy break-up with the Ravens and a one-snap appearance with the Chiefs (erased by Gaither’s false-start penalty), Gaither arrived in San Diego.

He finally regained his Pro-Bowl-level of play that had disappeared shortly after the Ravens drafted offensive tackle/movie star Michael Oher, and the Chargers’ offense responded.

After receiving a new contract from the Chargers, Gaither suffered back-spasms on July 27and has not practiced since. With his malcontent past, it is hard not to question his motivation to get back on the field

What is not a question, however, is the terrible play of San Diego’s offensive line this preseason. Tied with the Giants in the bottom spot in the rankings, there is very little silver lining in the storm clouds gathering over Philip Rivers.

 

2012 Preseason OHI – San Diego Chargers
31st Overall (Tied)

YPA – 2.64; Rank – 32nd

NPP – 12.03%; Rank – 26th

Third-Down Conversion – 30.77%; Rank – 26th

 

Houston Texans D-Hogs: Bulls on Parade

After Buffalo’s celebration of their self-awarded offseason championship, signing Mario Williams away from Houston, less was made of the Texans’ success in letting Williams walk.

Indeed, Williams was not suited to play the elephant outside linebacker position in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense, and the defensive hogs excelled despite losing him to injury. In fact, Williams has not reached double-digit sacks since 2008, and his career high was 14 in 2007.

During 2011, the formidable trio of outside linebackers Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin teamed with defensive end J.J. Watt ran Phillips’ defense so well that he will probably be offered yet another head coaching position.

Assuming his string of head-coaching failures has scared off even the most foolhardy GM, Phillips is well-stocked for the future up front.Rookie Whitney Mercilus looks like a future star at outside linebacker, and Barwin is the elder statesman of the group, with three tours of duty.

 

2012 Preseason DHI – Houston Texans
12th Overall (Tied)

YPA – 5.81*; Rank – 32nd

NPP – 11.59%; Rank – 7th

Third-Down Conversion – 29.63%; Rank – 4th

*J.J. Watt has been sidelined this preseason, but has been cleared for the regular season. As the strong-side DE, Watt is responsible for holding the point of attack where teams run most frequently.

 

Denver Broncos: The Overlooked Defensive Hogs

There has been a headline-dominating addition in Denver this preseason. Peyton Manning has commanded the spotlight. This leaves last season’s defensive rookie of the year, Von Miller, in the dark. A Sam linebacker in the 4-3 on running downs, Miller moves down to a defensive end position to rush the passer.

He finished his inaugural campaign with an impressive 11.5 sacks and still showed room for improvement. His pass-rushing counterpart, Elvis Dumervil, was returning from a 2010 wiped out by injury and still put up 9.5 sacks.

The interior pass rush and the hogs’ inability to slow down the run doomed the Denver unit to a season unworthy of its super-rookie and John Elway’s first-ever draft selection. Maybe they should have tried playing Tim Tebow at defensive tackle and personal punt protector.

The Broncos managed to steal Cincinnati product Derek Wolfe in the second round of the draft. Wolfe is versatile enough to play as a run-stuffing, strong-side defensive end while big enough, at 6-4 and 300 pounds, to slide inside on passing downs in tandem with Miller.

Wolfe ended up winning the starting job over a disappointing draft pick left over from the last regime in Robert Ayers. This preseason, Wolfe led the team with seven tackles and added two sacks.

Last season, however, Denver’s d-hogs ranked 23rd with a 8.7 NPP% and a pedestrian 13th with 4.14 YPC given up. Wolfe needs to have an impact immediately to boost those numbers to a playoff-caliber level.

The unit’s NPP% has seen an uptick this preseason, although their run defense has not experienced the impact that Wolfe would seem to have. Still, many defenses would gladly accept their 3.88 YPC. Their second-ranked 14.29 NPP% does more than make up for it, anyway.

 

2012 Preseason DHI – Denver Broncos
  5thOverall

YPA – 3.88; Rank – 14th

NPP% – 14.29%; Rank – 2nd

Third-Down Conversion – 34.55%; Rank – 14th

 

Seahawks and Dolphins: Keeping Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill Clean

In the opposite corners of the country, two franchises have named rookie starters. Both Seattle’s Wilson and Miami’s Tannehill have question marks: Tannehill’s limited quarterbacking experience and Wilson’s limited height.

If both see their o-hogs continue to perform as well as they have this preseason, both will have some outstanding pass protection to aid their respective causes. The two quarterbacks are very fast, but show a patience and trust in their offensive line that is more helpful than dropping their eyes and taking off at the first sign of trouble.

It is easier to be patient, when, in Tannehill’s case, his protectors caused a 6.45 NPP% that ranks fourth this preseason.All-world tackle Jake Long is healthy again and protecting the blind-side, and that certainly helps.

Seattle’s o-line has had a higher NPP% this preseason, but their excellence run-blocking and converting third downs push them to the top of the heap, tied for first overall with division rival San Francisco.

Running backs Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin are explosive in the Seahawks’ more traditional zone-blocking scheme. These agile linemen have the ability to mirror defenders, allowing Wilson clear running and passing lanes.

When your quarterback is under six-feet tall but has a monster arm and afterburner jets, allowing for scrambles and bootlegs is important.

 

2012 Preseason OHI – Seattle Seahawks

1stOverall (Tied)

YPA – 4.66; Rank – 7th

NPP – 7.50%; Rank – 6th

Third-Down Conversion – 42.59%; Rank – 4th

 

Next Week

Same hog place, same hog channel. We will look back on the best and worst offensive and defensive lines from Week 1, and break down the most interesting match-ups from the slate of Week 2 games. Until then, take a look at the Preseason Hog Index and get ready for the most anticipated moment of the year.

 

2012 Preseason Defensive Hog Index

Rank

 Team

Rank

RY/A

Rank

NPP%

Rank

3rd%

Overall

1

N.Y. Giants

7

3.75

3

14.19

12

33.85

7.33

T2

Kansas City

10

3.85

8

11.11

7

31.91

8.33

T2

Philadelphia

2

3.09

1

15.67

22

38.33

8.33

4

Dallas

5

3.67

9

11.03

13

34

9.00

5

Denver

14

3.88

2

14.29

14

34.55

10.00

6

Seattle

9

3.84

15

9.79

7

31.91

10.33

T7

Oakland

4

3.54

22

8.59

9

32

11.67

T7

Washington

3

3.41

5

12.07

27

39.68

11.67

9

Cincinnati

15

3.93

10

10.88

11

32.73

12.00

10

Tennessee

20

4.07

4

13.13

17

35.59

13.67

11

Green Bay

10

3.85

13

10

19

37.5

14.00

T12

New Orleans

24

4.29

17

9.33

2

27.14

14.33

T12

Houston

32

5.81

7

11.59

4

29.63

14.33

14

N.Y. Jets

1

3.02

19

9.02

25

39.62

15.00

15

Arizona

8

3.76

24

7.79

15

34.78

15.67

16

Minnesota

30

4.82

12

10.37

6

30.9

16.00

17

Carolina

19

4.04

11

10.46

20

38.1

16.67

T18

Detroit

29

4.74

23

8.43

1

26.92

17.67

T18

New England

17

3.97

26

7.3

10

32.14

17.67

T18

San Diego

18

4.01

14

9.83

21

38.18

17.67

21

Indianapolis

7

3.75

21

8.82

26

39.66

18.00

T22

Pittsburgh

26

4.35

30

5.71

3

27.27

19.67

T22

Jacksonville

22

4.18

6

11.76

31

44.44

19.67

24

San Francisco

13

3.87

18

9.15

29

40.35

20.00

T25

Atlanta

16

3.95

28

6.21

18

37.29

20.67

T25

St. Louis

10

3.85

20

8.9

32

52.94

20.67

27

Buffalo

22

4.18

27

7.14

16

35.19

21.67

28

Tampa Bay

31

5.28

31

5.71

5

30.19

22.33

29

Chicago

28

4.61

16

9.52

24

39.29

22.67

30

Cleveland

25

4.33

25

7.35

28

40

26.00

31

Baltimore

27

4.59

29

5.88

23

38.6

26.33

32

Miami

21

4.08

32

4.69

30

41.82

27.67

 

2012 Preseason Offensive Hog Index

Rank

 Team

Rank

RY/A

Rank

NPP%

Rank

3rd%

Overall

T1

Seattle

7

4.66

6

7.50

4

42.59

5.67

T1

San Francisco

2

5.46

10

8.00

5

41.51

5.67

3

Washington

5

4.83

15

8.47

3

46.30

7.67

4

Baltimore

13

4.30

7

7.61

9

38.71

9.67

5

Detroit

10

4.47

2

5.00

18

35.09

10.00

6

Kansas City

4

4.86

25

11.54

2

47.37

10.33

7

Jacksonville

3

5.04

19

9.72

11

38.33

11.00

8

Dallas

6

4.78

11

8.11

19

34.78

12.00

9

Indianapolis

31

2.82

5

7.43

1

49.15

12.33

T10

St. Louis

17

4.09

14

8.46

10

38.46

13.67

T10

Philadelphia

15

4.15

1

3.68

25

31.91

13.67

T12

Cleveland

9

4.49

22

10.69

13

37.50

14.67

T12

Tennessee

11

4.41

3

5.08

30

26.92

14.67

14

Green Bay

26

3.37

12

8.22

7

40.00

15.00

15

Cincinnati

28

3.20

9

7.75

12

37.93

16.33

16

Arizona

12

4.33

31

16.11

8

38.89

17.00

T17

New Orleans

24

3.59

13

8.26

17

35.21

18.00

T17

Miami

21

3.69

4

6.45

29

28.07

18.00

T19

Denver

25

3.49

24

11.27

6

40.38

18.33

T19

Chicago

23

3.60

18

8.90

14

36.51

18.33

21

Atlanta

27

3.34

8

7.74

21

33.93

18.67

T23

Carolina

16

4.11

21

10.53

20

34.69

19.00

T23

Houston

8

4.65

27

12.17

22

33.33

19.00

T23

Buffalo

14

4.21

16

8.57

27

30.19

19.00

25

New England

19

3.79

17

8.61

22

33.33

19.33

26

Minnesota

1

5.60

30

13.29

28

29.63

19.67

27

Oakland

20

3.73

20

10.00

24

32.73

21.33

28

Pittsburgh

22

3.61

29

13.27

15

35.94

22.00

29

Tampa Bay

30

3.04

28

13.08

16

35.85

24.67

30

N.Y. Jets

18

3.90

32

21.31

31

25.45

27.00

T31

San Diego

32

2.64

26

12.03

26

30.77

28.00

T31

N.Y. Giants

29

3.16

23

11.20

32

24.07

28.00

 

 


From our partners




Join Insider Today!
Must See Videos
2014 NFL Combine Winners
2014 NFL Combine Most Impressive Performances
2014 NFL Combine Losers

Team Pages
AFC East NFC
South
North
West

Connect With Us
Sign up for our newsletter to recieve all the latest news and updates...
Privacy guaranteed. We'll never share your info.




The Football Nation Network

© Copyright 2014 Football Nation LLC. Privacy Policy & Terms of Use
Some images property of Getty Images or Icon/SMI