Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Russell Wilson: Game 2

Opponent: Dallas [at Seattle]
Result: Win [27-7]
Completion: 15/20 [75%]
Yards: 151
TD: 1
INT: 0
Yards per attempt: 7.55
Rushing Attempts: 4
Rushing Yards: 28
Rushing Yards per Attempt: 7


Going into this game, I expected a better showing.  The numbers look better.  Completion percentage and yards per attempt are both up from the first game, so that’s a good sign.  As you can see, his attempts decreased quite a bit in this game (from 34 to 20). 

He seems to be much quicker to deliver the ball, and he seems to be going through progressions in this game.  It’s possible that he was still going one-read most of the time, but there were times when he was definitely going through progressions.
Even so, he wasn’t asked to do too much.  He didn’t throw as many passes behind the line of scrimmage as he did the previous week, but most of his throws were within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage (the main exception being his touchdown pass, which I’ll get into a little later).

I decided to look at two throws in this game: one bad, one good.

We’ll start with the bad:

Third and 14.  Rice is in the slot (circled in white).  Dallas has a three man rush (the middle linebacker is already backpedaling into position at this point).

At this point, the ball is in the air.  Rice is about to get met head-on by two converging defenders.  The throw is leading Rice directly at them at full-speed.  I call this The Peyton Manning Special.  He loved to do this kind of thing.  In the right coverage, there's a seam for the slot receiver to run this route.  The problem is, even if the throw is perfect, you're leading the receiver into a terrible hit (Austin Collie took a handful of nasty hits because of this).  The problem with this particular throw is that, even if it were completed, there's no chance of converting a first down.  So Wilson is throwing his receiver into danger for a punt.

This is pretty much the same moment, but from a different angle.  He's diving for the ball, with two defenders ready to tee-off on him.  Luckily, Rice was not seriously injured on this play.  It could've been much worse.

And now, for the good.  A perfect 22 yard strike to Anthony McCoy

A bunch formation to Wilson's right, with McCoy in the middle.  There's a CB at the line who appears to have the job of knocking at least one of the receivers (McCoy, from the looks of things) off his route.

He fails miserably.  This is directly after the snap.  The defender whiffed on his ham, and is already behind McCoy (defender is circled in red).  McCoy is free to run his route: a skinny-post to the end zone.  From this shot,  you can already pretty much see how easily he'll be able to split the defenders.

The defender is hopelessly trying to catch up to the streaking McCoy.  The Cowboys appear to be in zone, but there's a mix-up somewhere.  Between the original defender (red circle) and McCoy (white circle), there's a Cowboy's defender who appears to be covering no one.  I'm pretty sure he was supposed to pick up McCoy here.  The single-high safety is moving in the other direction for no apparent reason.  Sure, there's a receiver on that side, but he's being covered pretty well (the CB has inside technique and has the receiver pinned to the sideline), and the safety would have no shot of making it over there if the throw went that direction, anyway.  His attention would've been better spent shading the way of McCoy, since there are three receivers on that side of the field.
But there's a reason the Cowboys are known for having terrible safeties.  Mainly because they have terrible safeties.  It's not just a running joke.

In this shot, the ball is in the air, the safety is too late in reacting, and all McCoy has to do is catch a perfect ball for a touchdown.  Which he does.
I have two favorite things about this shot:
1. There are two Cowboys defenders in the red circle.  The one is still hopelessly pursuing McCoy, while the other got turned around in trying to pick up McCoy late.  The second defender never covered anyone.
2. Even if McCoy wasn't wide open, there is a Seahawks receiver wide open in the middle of the field (at the 21) with plenty of room to run.  Had Wilson just dumped the ball off here, it would've been a pretty good gain (and, depending on how good the downfield blocking by the receivers was, he would've had a decent chance for a touchdown).
As it was, Wilson read it wonderfully and threw a perfect strike to McCoy.  

Final thoughts:

He still made a couple bad decisions (including one that he tossed up as he was being sacked), but, overall, he looked much better in this game.  He looked much more comfortable and in control.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Russell Wilson: Game 1

Before the season starts (which is coming up pretty soon), I thought I would try to delve deeper into a few things from last year.  The first thing I wanted to look at was the performance of Russell Wilson from last year.  For one reason or another, I never fully trusted him.  I watched quite a few of his games and saw some good moments, but he never really blew me away.
So I thought I would go through every Seahawks game last season and report on what I saw.
I'll start off with the statistics for the game, throw out some of my thoughts, then take a play or two and look at them with All-22 film.

Here we go.

Game 1.

Opponent: Arizona [at Arizona]
Result: Loss [20-16]
Completion: 18/34 [52.94%]
Yards: 153
TD: 1
INT: 1
Yards per attempt: 4.50
Rushing Attempts: 8
Rushing Yards: 20
Rushing Yards per Attempt: 2.50


On his first pass attempt, he looked panicked after seeing his initial read was covered.  He eventually dumped the ball off across the middle, but threw it quite a bit behind his receiver.  Luckily for Wilson, the ball was tipped to a diving receiver at the first down marker.

Has thrown a lot of dangerous passes.  Seems to be going on a one-read system.  If that receiver isn’t open, he panics or tries to force it in.  Doesn’t seem to be reading the defense at all.  Not great under pressure.

Deep ball seems to be him just throwing it as far as he can, with no clear idea of where it’s going to end up.

Seems to particularly lock on to his primary receivers in the flat, and throws it regardless of the defender.  Had one of them knocked down, and another thrown behind him that turned into a fumble.

Two or three delay of game penalties.  That generally reflects poorly on a QB. 

With all of this, I try to keep in mind that this was the first start by a rookie quarterback against a pretty good defense (ranked 6th last year according to Football Outsiders' DVOA system).  Still, I don’t think the numbers accurately state some of the poor decisions he made here.  He easily could have had 3 interceptions (oddly enough, his only interception of the game was basically a Hail Mary at the end of the first half).

The play I decided to look at was Wilson's fumble in the third quarter. (Click on pictures to see larger image.)

Pre-snap: Seahawks line up three-wide with a single-back (Lynch).  The Cardinals are crowding the line with two-deep safeties (in this picture, you can actually see one of the safeties backpedaling, because he had been sneaking up on the line).
This is a screen for the Seahawks, which seems to be a good call.  The middle of the field appears to be wide open, but, with the Cardinals crowding the line, the Seahawks could get a pretty good gain if they could get past that first line with the screen.

This takes place less than a second after the snap.  You can see the DT is already up on Wilson, and he is already looking to unload the ball to Lynch (yellow circle).  The problem is that a LB is already breaking on Lynch.  The smart decision would've been to just pull the ball down and take the sack.  If he had a little extra time, he could've found a WR streaking past the CB (with the safety backpedaling, he could've just thrown it up and taken a chance that his WR could beat the CB).  But that might be asking a bit much, seeing as how he's still dropping back and already has a DT in his face.  

This is slightly earlier than the last image, but it gives a good shot of how the DT got in.  The guard gave him a chip, then went to block on the second level for the screen.  The problem is that he didn't quite get enough of the DT to knock him off his route to Wilson.

On the left side, you can see Lynch reaching for the ball (that is thrown behind him), with the blur of a linebacker already getting ready to hit him.  

Again, on the left side of the screen, you see the continuation of that hit.  Lynch is horizontal.  The image is blurry, but the ball is already past him.  And Lynch is definitely going to be feeling that his in the morning.  (Although I think he is also feeling it at that exact moment as well.)

Final thoughts: not overly impressive, but some of that may be due to a the one-read system he seemed to have been running throughout this game.  This was also his first start in his rookie year, so he was bound to look a little jittery.  Still, just looking at this one game, he was less than impressive.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Thoughts on the LAC/PHX/MIL trade

There's a lot of discussion on the recent LAC/PHX/MIL deal, so I wanted to get my thoughts out on it. The full deal is listed below:

Clippers receive:
Jared Dudley G/F
JJ Redick G

Suns receive:
Eric Bledsoe G
Caron Butler F

Bucks receive:
Two second round picks

I may be in the minority, but I actually think all three teams come out victorious.

JJ Redick and Bucks coach Jim Boylan weren't on speaking terms during the playoffs. There was no way he was re-signing there, so they get a couple of draft picks for a player they were going to lose anyway.

Love this move for Phoenix. They need talent in the worst way, and Bledsoe definitely fits the bill. They get to let him loose with Alex Len for a season to evaluate him and will be able to match any offer Bledsoe receives next summer as a restricted free agent. Dudley is a nice piece, but he doesn't have much value on a team that is clearly rebuilding.

There is always the risk that Bledsoe's production and devastating defense were a result of limited minutes and not being a focal point of the scouting report for the Clippers. Or that someone surprises Bledsoe next season with a ridiculous offer that the Suns have to match or lose Bledsoe for nothing. But that's the risk you take, and I think it was a good move for Phoenix to make. It's rare that guys with his type of potential become available.

Here's what the Clippers sent out: A 33 year forward on the last year of his deal. Butler was outplayed by Matt Barnes throughout the season and saw his minutes reduced in the playoffs. Hardly a loss, in my opinion.

It will hurt to lose Bledsoe, but as soon as Chris Paul re-upped with LA, this was a move that had to be made. With Bledsoe hitting RFA next season, I'm not sure teams were lining up to give away blue chip talent for him when they can just wait a year and try to sign him.

Here's what the Clippers receive: Jared Dudley, who did everything that Caron Butler did last season better than Caron Butler. Also, he's 5 years younger and will make as much over the next two seasons as Butler made this past season. Dudley is a career 41% career shooter from 3P and hit 39% from deep last year without the luxury of Blake Griffin/Chris Paul around him. I think he'll be fine in LA.

Redick is a player that I've watched develop his game during his time in Orlando. He's legit. Anyone that thinks that he is just a shooter hasn't watched him recently. And why would you? Orlando stunk last year and Milwaukee wasn't much easier to watch. Redick is a good shooter, and has improved his game off the dribble, both creating for himself and others. He is a lockdown defender by no means, but is a solid team defender. He was a secondary ball handler for Orlando off the bench and created many good looks for some terrible players. The 4 years/$27 million may be a bit much for some, but talent gets overpaid in free agency. It always does so no one should be surprised there. And I'm not sure that $7 million/year is that bad for Redick considering less complete players like Kevin Martin and Ben Gordon each made over $12 million a piece last season. Hell, Marcus Thornton made $7.5 million last year.

This is not a deal that will jettison the Clippers past healthy Thunder/Spurs teams, but I do think this was a nice deal for them. Time will tell.