After a super random edition of this column last week, I did the same again this Thursday. I’m covering everything from a buzzy quarterback prospect and all-time feats to predicting the Carolina Panthers record and why a 33-year old tight end could be the difference in New Orleans.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open.
Should We Be Falling For Jordan Love?
The 2020 prospect I am most commonly asked about is Utah State QB Jordan Love so I took the time earlier this week to study his film. It’s easy to see the appeal but he has a lot of questions to answer in 2019 to determine if he’s a Jordan Ta’amu-esque prospect or a top guy.
Here are my notes:
Pros - Checks the boxes in terms of size and body composition. Good mobility and athleticism; capable of extending plays with his feet, hitting throws on the move and taking off with the ball in his hands. Sound mechanically. Over the top release that is efficient. Does well to follow through and get his legs involved on throws. Love how he hangs in the pocket and keeps his eyes down the field. Willing to test leverage advantages in man coverage and slot throws between zones. Aware of his outlets. Has the arm talent to make any throw. Has some impressive moments of ball placement to all levels.
Cons - Needs to improve his field vision and awareness. Often fails to recognize or completely disregards coverage rotations and it doesn’t have a great enough impact on his decision making. He throws some careless, YOLO balls that need to be reduced. While there is a lot to like about his willingness to be patient and stay in the pocket, his internal clock is often tardy. Can be aggressive vertically to fault. Want to see Utah State put more on his plate moving forward. The offense gets set quick and Love looks to the sideline for audibles/play calls.
Peyton Barber In Exclusive Company
In last Friday’s episode of Draft Dudes, Kyle Crabbs and I offered our thoughts on which tier each of the NFL’s projected starting running backs belonged in. Kyle and I briefly discussed Ronald Jones with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because we both agreed we needed to see more of him to truly slot him appropriately. This was met with disappointment by several Bucs fans who followed up with us on Twitter which Kyle and I greatly welcome and appreciate. The overall message to us from Bucs fans was “what about Peyton Barber?”
The feedback generated caused us to take a deeper look at the 2019 season Barber put together. As we were studying his production, I was quickly startled by how poor his yards per touch was given the amount of touches he received. On a Bucs offense that ranked No. 3 overall in the NFL, Barber received 254 touches and produced just 963 yards which averages out to 3.79 yards per touch. As we recorded the podcast and noticed this statistic, I told Kyle that I bet the list of NFL running backs that received at least 250 touches from scrimmage and averaged less than four yards per touch had to be an incredibly low number. Turns out, I was correct.
The first thing you need to know is that there have been 776 running backs in the history of the NFL that received at least 250 touches from scrimmage in a single season. Of those. 759 averaged at least four yards per touch. Only 2.2 percent of running backs in the history of the NFL that received at least 250 touches from scrimmage, managed to gain less than four yards per touch. Barber is truly in exclusive company.
As you will see in the list below, a few outstanding running backs also managed to accomplish this feat. Here is the entire group:
- Marion Butts, 1994, NE: (252/757) 3.00 yards/touch
- Rodney Hampton, 1996, NYG: (269/909) 3.38 yards/touch
- Jerome Bettis, 2003, PIT: (259/897) 3.46 yards/touch
- Eddie Price, 1951, NYG: (273/973) 3.56 yards/touch
- Shaun Alexander, 2006, SEA: (264/944) 3.58 yards/touch
- Natrone Means, 1997, JAX: (259/927) 3.58 yards/touch
- Ray Rice, 2013, BAL: (272/981) 3.61 yards/touch
- Sammy Winder, 1986, DEN: (266/960) 3.61 yards/touch
- Warrick Dunn, 2007, ATL: (264/958) 3.63 yards/touch
- Darren McFadden, 2012, OAK: (258/965) 3.74 yards/touch
- Peyton Barber, 2018, TB: (254/963) 3.79 yards/touch
- Rueben Mayes, 1987, NO: (258/985) 3.82 yards/touch
- Jerome Bettis, 2004, PIT: (256/987) 3.86 yards/touch
- William Green, 2002, CLE: (259/1000) 3.86 yards/touch
- Maurice Smith, 2001, ATL: (256/990) 3.87 yards/touch
- Cadillac Williams, 2006, TB: (255/994) 3.90 yards/touch
- George Rogers, 1984, NO: (251/990) 3.94 yards/touch
We Need to Talk More About Paul Krause
In preparation of the coming season, every summer I like to spend some time reviewing the all-time leaders in notable statistical categories in NFL history. It’s a good way to make myself aware of potential changes in those lists by knowing which active players are in striking distance to climb and surpass others.
Every year that I do this, I always come away in awe of Paul Krause’s all-time leading 81 career interceptions. Krause played for the Redskins and Vikings from 1964-1979, while racking up Pro Bowl honors eight times, All-Pro honors three times and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
Despite playing in an era of football that featured FAR less passing than we are accustomed to in today’s NFL, Krause still hauled in 81 picks. The closest active player on the list is the 33-year old Aqib Talib who has 35. There is nobody even close to the ballpark.
While today’s passing offenses feature more refined quarterbacks, better receivers, favorable rules to the offense and advanced passing game concepts, the sheer volume of passing plays should lead to someone eventually challenging Krause’s record, right? I don’t think so. I have a hard time imagining a defender producing enough interceptions over a long enough period of time to even come close. In 18 seasons, Charles Woodson finished 16 behind Krause and Ed Reed still needed 17 more to tie Krause after 12 seasons.
It’s time we start talking more about Krause’s career interception total as one of the most unlikely to be broken records in football.
Jared Cook Is Underrated Difference Maker
My likely pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, I am REALLY high on the Saints this year. There’s so much to like about the roster and coaching staff, but I don’t think there’s been enough buzz generated around the signing of free agent tight end Jared Cook.
Sure Cook is 32 but he is coming off a 2018 season in which he set new career highs receptions (68), receiving yards (896) and touchdowns (6). He was the NFL’s fourth-most productive tight end on an Oakland offense that finished in the bottom ten of the NFL.
Now paired with Sean Payton and Drew Brees, Cook has a chance to be even better in 2019 playing for a contender in New Orleans. Not that I want to compare Cook to Jimmy Graham, but he is the most exciting option Brees has had since Graham left four years ago. I love the idea of inserting Cook into this dynamic offense with a stout offensive line and dynamic rushing attack led by Alvin Kamara.
This team is primed to go far and I believe Cook is an underrated difference maker that has been added to the offense.
Put More Respect on Don Shula
Speaking of things I took away from studying the NFL’s all-time leaders lists was the incredible run that Dun Shula had as an NFL head coach. I don’t think we talk about it enough.
Bill Belichick is entering his 25th season as an NFL head coach and he sits 67 (SIXTY-SEVEN!) regular season wins behind Shula’s all-time leading 328 victories. A two-time Super Bowl Champion, Shula boasts a .677 regular season winning percentage which is just .003 percent behind that of Belichick. Shula is a ridiculous 172 wins above .500 in his 33-year career.
Sure Shula coached for a long time but his teams were remarkably consistent, while coaching in four different decades.
Belichick’s postseason success should give him the nod when discussing the best coach of all-time but Shula’s overall accomplishments are absolutely incredible. Featuring a losing record just twice in 33 seasons isn’t likely to ever be seen again. Heck, even Belichicks already has five losing seasons out of his 24 in the league as a head coach.
Game-By-Game Carolina Panthers Prediction
Living in Charlotte, the fan base is really energized by the drafting of Brian Burns and signing of Gerald McCoy to bolster the front seven. The offensive line should be improved with the addition of Matt Paradis and a healthy Daryl Williams while the team traded up in the second round to secure its left tackle in Greg Little. CMC and DJ Moore are exciting weapons, Curtis Samuel is emerging and Greg Olsen appears healthy. Luke Keuchly is one of the best defensive players in football and Cam Newton is throwing footballs in June which hasn’t been the norm since his MVP season in 2015.
With all of that in mind, BetOnline.AG puts the Panthers chances of making the playoffs in 2019 at just 29.4 percent.
In the coming editions of 6-Pack Thursday, I’ll dedicate a section to forecasting some of the more polarizing teams to project in the coming season and offer my game-by-game predictions. I like to examine things by a quarter-by-quarter basis.
vs Rams - L
vs Bucs (TNF) - W
@ Cardinals - W
@ Texans - L
A 2-2 start looks reasonable to me and it’s not out of the question for Carolina to win in Houston.
vs Jaguars - W
vs Bucs (London) - W
@ 49ers - W
vs Titans - W
Hello, there. A 4-0 second quarter brings Carolina to a 6-2 mark at the midway point, just like in 2018…
at Packers - L
vs Falcons - L
at Saints - L
vs Redskins - W
Things get a lot tougher during this climacteric stretch of games, facing a murderers row of NFC contenders. I have Carolina at 7-5 entering the final four games of the year.
at Atlanta - L
vs Seattle - W
at Colts - L
vs Saints - L
The last eight games of Carolina’s schedule is absolutely brutal. 8-8 is nothing to get excited about, especially in an NFC loaded with teams that appear primed to contend. Carolina needs to find a way to steal a couple victories while winning the games I “expect” them to. If 8-8 proves to be the case, it will be interesting to see how new owner Dave Tepper handles the employment status of head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney after the season.