Broncos and Bengals in hassle; Dolphins’ massive rise: Warren Sharp’s NFL notes

By Warren Sharp
FOX Sports activities NFL Author

Andy Reid and the chiefs not often fail to capitalize on additional relaxation.

Since 2019, the Chiefs are 9-1 straight up, 6-4 in opposition to the unfold and 7-3 to the underneath in regular-season video games with additional relaxation. Together with the playoffs, the Chiefs are 13-2 SU, 9-6 ATS and 10-5 to the underneath. No workforce has a greater straight-up document. Solely 3 groups have gone underneath their totals at the next charge. Naturally, this offense tends to look incredible.

However solely two groups have allowed fewer factors than the Chiefs protection in these video games.

After beginning the season off in opposition to two dynamic quarterbacks in Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray, and holding them to 24 and 21 factors, respectively, the Chiefs now tackle Matt Ryan and the Colts in Week 3.

This might be an enormous step down in school for the Chiefs protection.

The Colts’ offense confronted off with the Texans’ and Jaguars’ defenses, each of which rank bottom-10 in stress charge on the season. In the meantime, the Chiefs are getting stress on 39% of opponent dropbacks, which ranks fifth most within the NFL. And so they have essentially the most whole pressures within the NFL via the primary two weeks of the season.

So listed here are the Colts, winless via two weeks and 6.5-point dwelling underdogs to the Chiefs.

The Colts had been projected favorites to win the AFC South earlier than the season, however I warned about this schedule over the summer season. Issues could worsen in Indianapolis earlier than they get higher.

What’s Nathaniel Hackett doing in Denver?

Russell Wilson’s Denver Broncos are scoring touchdowns at a decrease charge (10.5%) than Geno Smith’s Seattle Seahawks (11.8%).

Let that sink in.

Denver’s had 5 drives that made it to goal-to-go. They scored zero touchdowns.

How dangerous is that?

They’re the solely workforce within the NFL since not less than 2000 to have not less than 5 drives make it to goal-to-go and rating zero TDs on these drives (2000 is so far as TruMedia’s drive information goes).

Hackett’s play-calling close to the tip zone is horrible. Nevertheless it’s not a lot better elsewhere.

Regardless of taking part in the Texans and Seahawks, two groups anticipated to contend for the primary choose within the 2023 NFL draft, Denver ranks tenth worst within the share of early downs that resulted in a primary down.

Their most egregious points relate to situational soccer. These issues price them a win in Week 1 and led Hackett to punt the ball late within the third quarter vs the Texans trailing 9-6 as an alternative of taking the lead or not less than tying the sport.

Tua takes an enormous step ahead in QB-friendly offense

I used to be massive on Tua Tagovailoa coming into this season.

In actual fact, it is not hyperbole to say I used to be in all probability his loudest media supporter.

And there have been quite a few the reason why, as I detailed right here:

We’re two weeks into the season. The place do the Dolphins rank within the metrics that I assumed would enhance?

Let’s begin with what pass-catchers are doing with the ball of their arms. In 2021, Tua’s receivers averaged 4.3 yards after catch/reception, which ranked thirty first within the NFL.

On early downs within the first three quarters, this offense averaged 4.5 YAC/reception, which additionally ranked thirty first.

In 2022, the Dolphins rank second in YAC at 8.0.

They shifted from second-fewest yards after catch to second-most.

That is an enormous operate of this offense. It is on Tua to make the reads and ship the ball the place it is imagined to go. However this offense has helped set him up for achievement moderately than failure.

One other space the workforce struggled with was receiver separation. In 2021, Tua led the NFL in tight-window throws. 19.3% of his passes from him had been thrown into tight home windows, per NextGenStats.

That was essentially the most within the NFL.

In 2022, Tua ranks fifth-lowest within the NFL, with simply 8.4% of his passes being thrown into tight home windows. You continue to have to search out the open man and make the correct learn. However the offense is getting him gamers who’re extra open to throw the ball to.

What have open receivers and extra YAC executed for this Dolphins passing assault?

It is extremely early within the season, however up to now, each components have been large the reason why we have seen Tua ship these enhancements on early downs:

2021: Ranked thirty second in yards per try, twenty third in success charge, sixteenth in anticipated factors added/try

2022: Ranked fourth in YPA, eighth in success charge, twelfth in EPA/att

2021: Ranked forty first (of 42) in share of completions that achieve 10+ yards, twenty second in share of completions that achieve first downs

2022: Ranked fifth in share of completions that achieve 10+ yards, seventh in share of completions that achieve first downs

Even crazier is that this early-down stat: In 2021, Tua averaged 6.1 air yards per try and his passes gained 6.5 YPA on common (thirty second). In 2022, Tua is averaging 6.7 air yards per try, however his passes are gaining 8.9 YPA on common (fourth).

These numbers got here in opposition to the Patriots and the Ravens, anticipated to be two of the NFL’s higher defensive items.

The Bengals want a counter-adjustment

On early-down passes within the first three quarters, the Bengals passing assault is averaging simply 4.9 air yards, thirtieth within the NFL. Final yr, that quantity was an abovecommon 7.3 air yards, which ranked eleventh.

Groups are sitting extra in Cowl-2, getting stress and forcing Joe Burrow to get the ball out quick underneath period.

Take a look at the changes groups have made:

2021 Steelers: 13% utilization of Cowl-2

Week 1 Steelers: 30.9% utilization of Cowl-2 vs the Bengals (second-highest of any workforce in week 1)

Week 1 cowboys: 9.7% utilization of Cowl-2

Week 2 Cowboys: 37.3% utilization of Cowl-2 vs the Bengals (highest of any workforce in week 2)

The Bengals nonetheless do not know how one can resolve it.

They spent all offseason discussing that they anticipated seeing extra Cowl-2, but constructed no safety to take care of it once they noticed it.

Associated: Geoff Schwartz says Bengals’ struggles begin with defending Joe Burrow

Ravens ought to lighten the field

Baltimore ranks first in anticipated factors added per dropback on early downs at +0.80. The NFL common is +0.03. The second-ranked workforce averages +0.43.

Basically, Lamar Jackson’s dropbacks are as far above the No. 2 workforce as that workforce is above the NFL common. That is absurd.

However the Ravens can not run the ball. They rank thirtieth in EPA/rush at -0.29 on early downs. Ravens working backs are averaging -0.26 EPA/att on early downs, which ranks thirtieth.

These runs are gaining simply 2.7 yards per carry, which ranks thirty first.

A giant a part of the rationale for that is the Ravens’ lack of funding in WRs.

Whereas that looks as if a wierd suggestion, have a look at the info:

Solely 7% of Ravens’ early-down RB runs have include three or extra large receivers on the sphere. That’s the lowest charge within the NFL. The typical is 50%.

Therefore, 93% of their runs have include fewer than three WRs on the sphere, essentially the most within the NFL. And defenses have chosen to stack the field in these conditions on a 1-to-1 foundation:

Among the many Ravens’ early-down working again runs, 93% have come in opposition to seven-plus-man bins, the second-highest charge within the NFL.

The Ravens are getting minimal help from their line on these runs, permitting simply 0.52 yards earlier than contact per rush, which ranks twenty eighth.

If the Ravens wish to enhance their working backs’ effectivity and supply help for Lamar Jackson’s passing makes an attempt, they have to do a greater job of lightening the field through pre-snap personnel or alignment.

Till then, even when JK Dobbins returns, the chance he will produce excellent numbers when he’s contacted half a yard past the road of scrimmage, on common, is low.

Warren Sharp is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports activities. He’s the founding father of Sharp Soccer Evaluation and has labored as a advisor for league franchises whereas additionally beforehand contributing to ESPN and The Ringer, amongst different retailers. I’ve studied engineering earlier than utilizing his statistical acumen to create predictive soccer fashions. You may comply with Warren on Twitter at @SharpFootball

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