Fillability Index: AFC West
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Aug 31, 2008
The Fillability Index is our annual look at each team's off-season acquisitions and departures.
We conclude – about two weeks too late – with the collection of old AFL powers and heated rivals you and we know and love as the AFC West.
The Chargers have dominated the division in recent years, while the Broncos look to return to their former status as one of the AFC's Gang of Four with Indy, New England and Pittsburgh. The Raiders have the look of a team ready to rebound from the depths of the despair, while the Chiefs have the look of a team ready to dive headlong into the void of despair left by Oakland.
If there was one defining aspect of the division last year that teams must overcome if they hope to improve here in 2008, it ws the utter lack of offense. Kansas City and Oakland were among the worst offensive clubs in football in 2007, while Denver was one of the most inefficient offenses in football.
The Fillability Index is the best way found anywhere in the seedy underworld of online football analysis to measure the off-season moves of each NFL team. Its brilliance is found in its simplicity: we size up each team based upon their statistical strengths and weaknesses last year, as measured by their rankings in all of our Quality Stats, and then determine whether they made the necessary off-season personnel moves to shore up those weaknesses.
Pretty simple. Yet nobody else does it.
So on to the Index.
(Index Key: Bend = Bendability Index; Score = Scoreability Index; PYPA = Passing Yards Per Attempt; DPR = Defensive Passer Rating; OHI = Offensive Hog Index; DHI = Defensive Hog Index; Big Play = Big Play Index; Relativity = Relativity Index; ST = Special Teams)
RB Michael Pittman (Tampa Bay)
LB Niko Koutouvides (Seattle)
LB Boss Bailey (Detroit)
WR Keary Colbert (Carolina)
WR Darrell Jackson (San Francisco)
S Marquand Manuel (Carolina)
S Marlon McCree (San Diego)
WR Samie Parker (Kansas City)
C Casey Wiegmann (Kansas City)
WR Javon Walker (Oakland)
RB Travis Henry (Unsigned)
C Chris Myers (Houston)
LB Ian Gold (Retired)
S Nick Ferguson (Houston)
K Jason Elam (Houston)
1 (12) Ryan Clady, OT, Boise State
2 (42) Eddie Royal, WR, Virginia Tech
4 (108) Kory Lichtensteiger, C, Bowling Green
4 (119) Jack Williams, CB, Kent
5 (139) Ryan Torain, RB, Arizona State
5 (148) Carlton Powell, DT, Virginia Tech
6 (183) Spencer Larsen, LB, Arizona
7 (220) Joshua Barrett, S, Arizona State
7 (227) Peyton Hillis, FB, Arkansas
Broncos Fillability Overview
One of the true surprises of the 2007 season was the downfall of the defense for the perennial AFC power Denver. The 2007 Broncos ranked:
- 26th in Defensive Passer Rating
- 27th in our Defensive Hog Index
- 29th in Bendability, our measure of team-wide defensive efficiency
Considering that a quarter of Denver's schedule came in the form of games against Oakland and Kansas City, two of the most pathetic offenses in football last year, the performance of the defense was almost inexcusable.
Naturally, the Broncos needed to improve in virtually every defensive area in the off-season. Surprisingly, they didn't do everything in their power to bring about those changes.
Sure, there was a slew of new additions to the defense via free agency.
Yet the first three picks in the draft were devoted to offense: The No. 1 and No. 3 pick (in the fourth round) were both offensive lineman, adding to a unit that ranked No. 10 in our Offensive Hog Index last year and stood as the most statistically solid area of the 2007 Broncos.
The second draft pick, meanwhile, was devoted to a wide receiver, for a passing game that was 10th in the Passing Yards Per Attempt last year, tying the Offensive Hogs as Denver's best statistical area of 2007. Even more curious: In Brandon Marshall, the Broncos already boast one of the most promising young receiving talents in football, and in Jay Cutler-to-Marshall one of the most potentially explosive young batterymates in the entire league.
Newcomer linebacker Boss Bailey (formerly with Detroit) and newcomer cornerback Marlon McCree (formerly with San Diego) are both legitimate starters (though McCree should begin the season as a back-up) who could provide a boost to the terrible Denver defense of 2007. Niko Koutouvides, acquired from Seattle where he was a back-up, should get the nod as starting MLB with Denver.
The acquistions may help. But it was surprising to see Broncos wait to acquire desperately needed young defensive talent until the late rounds of the draft.
Overall, Denver devoted too many resources to strengthen its strengths (offensive line and passing game) and not enough to improve its weaknesses (defense) this off-season. That spells poor marks in our Fillability Index.
Denver Fillability Grade: D-
KANSAS CITY (2007 Quality Stats rankings)
WR Devard Darling (Baltimore)
CB B.J. Sams (Baltimore)
C Wade Smith (New York Jets)
LB Demorrio Williams (Atlanta)
DE Jared Allen (Minnesota)
LB Kendrell Bell (Unsigned)
WR Eddie Drummond (Pittsburgh)
FB Boomer Grigsby (Miami)
WR Eddie Kennison (Unsigned)
CB Ty Law (Unsigned)
WR Samie Parker (Denver)
CB Benny Sapp (Minnesota)
OT Kyle Turley (Retired)
C Casey Wiegmann (Denver)
DE Jimmy Wilkerson (Tampa Bay)
TE Kris Wilson (Philadelphia)
1 (5) Glenn Dorsey, DT, LSU
1 (15) Branden Albert, OG, Virginia
2 (35) Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
3 (73) Jamaal Charles, RB, Texas
3 (76) Brad Cottam, TE, Tennessee
3 (82) DaJuan Morgan, S, North Carolina State
4 (105) William Franklin, WR, Missouri
5 (140) Brandon Carr, CB, Grand Valley State
6 (170) Barry Richardson, OT, Clemson
6 (182) Kevin Robinson, WR, Utah State
7 (210) Brian Johnston, DE, Gardner Webb
7 (239) Mike Merritt, TE, Central Florida
Chiefs Fillability Overview
Kansas City's offense was so impotent last year that we saw it playing piano in one of those "Viva Viagra" commercials. It ranked:
- 28th in Passing Yards Per Attempt
- 32nd in the Offensive Hog Index
- 32nd in the Big Play Index
- 32nd in Scoreability, our measure of offensive efficiency
Quite frankly, it's hard to envision an offense that's ever been worse.
Of course, it's much as we expected when Herm Edwards took over the Chiefs in 2006. He inherited what had beenn one of the great offensive juggernauts in the NFL under Dick Vermeil. Just two years later, it's one of the great offensive disappointments in the NFL under Edwards.
The obvious thing to do would have been to re-stock the talent pool on offense.
Yet Edwards and the KC brain trust remained focused in on a defense that, while not great, was certainly much better than the offense last year. The No. 1 pick, for example, was defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey out of LSU. Certainly, he was seen as a player who could help shore up the defensive line following the much-publicized departure of defensive end and 2007 NFL sack leader Jared Allen.
But the Kansas City defensive line was the last Chiefs unit that needed help. It finished No. 5 in our Defensive Hog Index. The offensive line, meanwhile, was dead last in our Offensive Hog Index.
The Chiefs did add a beefy offensive lineman, Branden Albert, with their second pick in the first round. But the Chiefs did not pick up another offensive lineman until late in the draft, and added only one offensive hog, Wade Smith, in free agency. Smith has not started an NFL game since 2004.
Albert, meanwhile, played guard at Virginia, but will start at the pivotal left tackle position for the Chiefs in their season opener. He certainly has the size to play the position (6-7, 315), but definitely not the experience.
The selection of a guard instead of a tackle so high in the draft, meanwhile, is something of a historical anomaly. Guard is one of the positions drafted least often in the first round, as NFL teams tend to build OLs around tackles. It doesn't mean Albert can't become an impact player. It's just an unorthodox selection by a team that needs instant stability, not a project.
Overall, it looks likes the Chiefs made few of the moves necessary to build a competitive NFL offense. The exhibition season, which included a 24-0 loss to the sad-sack Dolphins, certainly did little to inspire confidence in the offense. No wonder the Chiefs open the season at New England 16.5-point underdogs, one of the biggest opening day spreads in NFL history.
Kansas City Fillability Grade: D
OAKLAND (2007 Quality Stats rankings)
CB DeAngelo Hall (Atlanta)
WR Javon Walker (Denver)
S Gibril Wilson (New York Giants)
WR Drew Carter (Carolina)
DE Kalimba Edwards (Detroit)
OT Kwame Harris (San Francisco)
DT William Joseph (New York Giants)
CB Michael Waddell (Tennessee)
C John Wade (Tampa Bay)
DT Warren Sapp (Retired)
WR Jerry Porter (Jacksonville)
DE Tyler Brayton (Carolina)
CB Chris Carr (Tennessee)
DE Chris Clemons (Philadelphia)
QB Daunte Culpepper (Unsigned)
QB Josh McCown (Miami)
C Jeremy Newberry (San Diego)
OT Barry Sims (San Francisco)
1 (4) Darren McFadden, RB, Arkansas
4 (100) Tyvon Branch, CB, Connecticut
4 (125) Arman Shields, WR, Richmond
6 (169) Trevor Scott, DE, Buffalo
7 (226) Chaz Schilens, WR, San Diego State
Raiders Fillability Overview
Giving credit to Al Davis is like feeding rats to a snake.
Nobody feels good about it.
But Oakland management certainly deserves some credit for its moves in the 2008 off-season. The Raiders were desperate for playmakers on both sides of the ball last year. They produced just 40 Big Plays in all of 2007, and finished -16 in this indicator (tied for 29th overall) last season.
So Davis hunted down playmakers this year like a sailor hunting down booze and hookers in a third-world port of call after six months at sea.
Free-agent pick-ups Javon Walker and DeAngelo Hall are talented offensive and defensive playmakers, respectively. Top draft-pick Darren McFadden, meanwhile, was a home-run hitter as a Heisman-worthy running back (two-time runner up) at Arkansas, where the offense often consisted of him standing in the backfield taking direct shotgun snaps and then picking his holes.
McFadden averaged 5.8 yards per rushing attempt during his three years with the Razorbacks, scored 41 rushing TDs, caught 46 passes and was also a part-time special teamer, averaging 24.4 yards per kick return.
With only a couple exceptions, every acquisition in free agency and the draft was an "edge" player, those guys who perform on the edges of the field where the Big Plays are so often made or even stifled (cornerback, wide receiver, defensive end, offensive tackle).
Oakland had two other major statistical weaknesses last year, with its passing game and its Offensive Hogs, both of which ranked 25th in the league.
Of course, the hope is that 2007 overall No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell will live up to the hype and improve upon what has been one of the most dreadful passing attacks in the league in recent years. And, naturally, the goal is that the addition of several playmakers will make his job easier.
However, the Raiders would have been well served devoting a high draft pick to improve an offensive line that rated so poorly last year in our Offensive Hog Index. But with only one pick in the first three rounds, and only five picks overall, the Raiders simply didn't have the opportunity to make that move. It's the only factor that keeps Oakland from boasting a truly impressive off-season.
Oakland Fillability Grade: B
SAN DIEGO (2007 Quality Stats rankings)
LB Derek Smith (San Francisco)
OT L.J. Shelton (Miami)
WR Mark Jones (Tampa Bay)
RB Michael Turner (Atlanta)
CB Daryton Florence (Jacksonville)
FB Lorenzo Neal (Unsigned)
OT Shane Olivea (New York Giants)
S Marlon McCree (Denver)
1 (27) Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
3 (69) Jacob Hester, FB, LSU
5 (166) Marcus Thomas, RB, UTEP
6 (192) DeJuan Tribble, CB, Boston College
7 (234) Corey Clark, OT, Texas A&M
Chargers Fillability Overview
The Chargers were one of the best statistical teams in football last year, ranking in the top 10 in eight of our nine Quality Stats. They topped the league in three of those Quality Stats.
Only the undefeated Patriots topped more Quality Stats than San Diego last year (four).
The statistical dominance, not to mention a surprising appearance in the AFC championship game, certainly has San Diego feeling good about itself.
The evidence that the organization feels good is found in the moves – or, rather, the lack of moves – they made in the 2008 off-season. No team in football was more quiet. The Chargers boasted only five draft picks, and then added a mere three free agents (two made the roster, but neither as a starter).
The 2008 Chargers, in other words, will look a lot like the 2007 Chargers.
But in a league where every team is constantly looking to improve, the stand-pat strategy may not prove to be the best plan of attack. The Chargers, for example, desperately need a couple of players to improve upon their great statistical weakness of 2007: an attack that ranked just 16th in Passing Yards Per Attempt.
Their one free-agent acquisition at the wide receiver position (Mark Jones), however, didn't even make the roster. Perhaps they have great faith in Chris Chambers, who joined the Chargers following a mid-season trade with Miami last year.
Still, the Chargers missed a golden opportunity to boost the passing game in the draft. Grabbing wide receivers in the first round is rarely a wise position. But San Diego made a curious move when they devoted their top pick to the cornerback position – even though they're stacked at the position (Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie) and even though they boasted the top pass defense in the league last year (No.1 in Defensive Passer Rating).
Yes, the Chargers should still be a good team in 2008, maybe even a great team. But there's no doubt they missed out on an opportunity strengthen their lone weakness.
San Diego Fillability Grade: C
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