BY MICHAEL AUGUSTINE ON OCTOBER 3, 2013
The first quarter of the 2013 NFL season is in the books, so I’m going to hand out some awards for underlying achievements. Lets take a look beyond the basic stats and see who is doing some special things.
Best Deep Passer- Geno Smith, New York Jets
Believe it or not, one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league happens to be the most effective when throwing deep. Smith has thrown deep on 15.4% of his drop-backs and has completed 57.1% of his attempts. However, three interceptions have offset his two touchdown passes.
Best When Under Pressure- Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
You can make a case for Rivers as the best QB in the league right now, but he’s undeniably the most productive thrower while under duress. Rivers completes just over 80% of his attempts (minus drops) when pressured.
Most Reliable Receiver- Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson has had 34 receptions out of 45 targets with no drops. About 10 of those targets could be considered ‘uncatchable’ passes, so just about everything thrown in his vicinity has been a completion.
Best Slot Receiver- Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Wes Welker…who is that? Kidding. But, you could make a case for Edelman making up for whatever they might have lost out of Welker’s departure. Edelman has 21 receptions (24 targets) in the slot without a single drop. He’s not gaining big yardage, but has provided a safety net for Tom Brady when the wideouts cannot create separation.
Best Breakaway Running Back- Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Gore has 61 carries for 295 yards this season–so-so compared to his NFC contemporaries, but what sets him apart is the big gains he generates. Gore has 6 carries which resulted in 15-plus yards gained, accounting for 139 of his 295 rushing yards.
Best Pass-Blocking Back- Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers
Gore again bests all backs, this time in the overlooked value of pass-blocking. Gore has participated in 45 pass-blocking snaps which yielded no pressure of any kind on Quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The only other back close to that mark is Dallas’ DeMarco Murray, who allowed two pressures in 34 snaps.
Best Offensive Line- Denver Broncos
No line can come close to the domination, both in the running and passing game, that the ‘big uglies’ of the Broncos’ offensive line. Allowing just five sacks in pass protection (3.6% of downs) and 4.43 adjusted line yards (both according to footballoutsiders.com), the group is gelling better than any other unit in the league. No wonder Peyton Manning could be heading for a record-breaking year.
Best Interior Defensive Lineman- Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions
No question the most dominant defensive lineman, Suh is a figurative black hole in the Lions’ DLine. In 241 snaps–mostly while fighting double teams–he’s produced nine run-stops and 28 QB pressures (two sacks), all while missing just one tackle. Suh is definitely the early favorite for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Best Pass-Rushing Down-Lineman- Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams
Quinn has been an explosive threat on the Rams’ defensive line. 21 hurries with five sacks in 212 snaps makes him second to none in terms of his pass rush productivity (he’s also a monster in rushing downs posting 12 run stops).
Best Run-Stopping Linebacker- Brian Cushing, Houston Texans
Cushing is having a great year for Houston, stopping 20.9% of rushing attempts (out of 92 run-snaps). That’s good for 18 stops and 24 overall rushing down tackles (four assists), with just one missed.
Most Efficient Tackling Linebacker- Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars
Posluszny has always been a dependable tackler and 2013 is no exception. He’s produced 44 overall tackles and has just three missed (all against Oakland in week two) in 275 downs played. He’s also generated 21 stops with one quarterback sack.
Best Coverage Defender- Aqib Talib, New England Patriots
Talib is experiencing a career resurgence since joining the Patriots and has been THE shutdown corner through the first part of 2013. When QB’s target wideouts covered by Talib, he leaves them with an overall QB Rating of 24.3–a rating no other defender can come close to target for target. Talib also has four interceptions and allowed just 16 yards after the catch.
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