Slats Sunday  2010-05-16

Dolphins and NFL thoughts, pass blocking tangibles, and Stats with Slats Thompson*.

A little more statistics oriented this week, but first some comments.

A few years ago when talking Dolphins' running backs it used to be a discussion of "Ronnie vs Ricky." Now the discussion is "Ronnie and Ricky."  Guess we're making progress.

Brian Cushing denied taking steroids after receiving a 4 game suspension for failing an NFL drug test. Reportedly, Cushing tested positive for hCG, a fertility drug that is banned by the NFL. After a re-vote, Brian Cushing gets to keep his AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award. One fictitious voter who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was embarrassed didn't say:

"We could've just removed Cushing from the ballot for the re-vote, but then what do we write about afterwards, who won? This way we all get to jump up on our soapboxes and rant, no matter what our position was or how the new vote turned out. And if we AP writers can't spew fake outrage now and again, we would have to contrive some outrage. Now that ain't right. Don't get me wrong, we do it all the time, but it still ain't right."

On an unrelated note, Cushing is expecting triplets this off-season.

Chad Pennington is a classy guy. Even if he doesn't play a down, the Dolphins are a better team with him on the roster.

He karate chops flaming bricks, CPRs drowning babies, and is the role model for Bob Sugar in Jerry MaGuire. Agent Drew Rosenhaus, Super Hero or Evil Villain? Whatever you think of him he's someone that could give Tony Robbins lessons in self-promotion.

Three pictures: "Real glad you're now on our team", "Happy you're still here," and "I've got good news/bad news."

Using the people in the 3 pictures above, complete this sentence: "______ is/are most likely to ______."


This week’s Tangibles:  Pass Blocking

Ranking the Dolphins’ O-Line pass blocking by player in 2009.  Stats from

Jake Long ~1st for LTs, 2nd overall for all tackles
Justin Smiley ~7th for LGs, 17th for all guards
Nate Garner ~6th for LGs, 16th for all guards, the same as Smiley
Jake Grove 6th for Centers [Berger was 13th]
Donald Thomas ~26th for RGs, 47th overall for all guards
[Richie Incognito] ~19th for RGs, 37th for all guards
Vernon Carey 7th for RTs, 16th overall for all tackles
Anthony Fasano 48th for TEs
Joey Haynos 31st for TEs

According to PFF, the Dolphins ranked 1st in the league in pass blocking, ahead of the Ravens and the Jets.

What does the above mean? As I find out further on in the post, looking deeper than rankings is a good idea.  But let me draw a few conclusions anyway.

-  At the beginning the FO said they were building this team from the inside out. A lot of FOs say it, and do otherwise. It looks like they are actually doing it. And they are still tweaking it.
- The Dolphins are ranked 1st and 3rd in pass and run blocking, respectively. Our tackles and centers rank well, but not the guards. Maybe tackles and centers are more important for a solid O-Line than the guards? I really don't know. [Or is it that with traps and pulling and such, guards may not measure as well using the PFF methodology?] But if the new guards work out, this O-Line could be a real force in the NFL, barring the i-word.
- An inexpensive Nate Garner is similar to Smiley in both run and pass blocking stats. Smiley is on the trading block.
- I can now see why Carey got a $42 million, 6 year contract in 2009. He's 3rd in run blocking for RTs [4th overall] and 7th in pass blocking for RTs. My fuzzy memories tell me that when he was drafted in the 1st round in 2004, people felt the Dolphins got hood-winked because they traded up a slot or two with New England to get Carey, a guard from Da U.
- There were 2 O-Linemen drafted ahead of Carey, Robert Gallery at 2nd and Shawn Andrews at 16th. Galley is now playing left guard for the Raiders, poor guy, and Andrews was recently released by the Eagles due to injuries. Although Carey didn't do as well as a left tackle, he has done quite well as a right tackle. Trading up was worth it.


My non-football thought of the week: "Sometimes I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Other than for general amusement, I haven't cared one whit whether Brett Favre plays this year or not. At least until I remembered we play the Vikings on Sept 19th. If Brett Favre actually does retire this offseason, how many of you will mentally move the Dolphins' game against the Vikes from "possible Loss" to "probable Win"? How about if both Williams' are suspended for the game because of the StarCaps case?

Here are my only comments on it: I think Brett Favre will play this season if he can. Why? He wants one last shot at a ring and in 2011 no one will care if he plays. Instead it will be the NFL and the players union in 2011 playing his usual summer time drama queen role of "will I or won't I?" Though it would be hugely ironic if he showed up in August, 2011 ready to play only to find the doors locked.

Not saying Brett Favre is ancient but when he started playing NFL football in 1991...

the internet was just made available for unrestricted commercial use - the # of users on the net was 1 million;
cell phones looked like this;
grunge and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" became popular;
the DOW closed over 3000 for the first time;
belly button piercing wouldn't be cool for a couple of years;
the USSR dissolved. Russia came back;
the cost of a gallon of gas was about $1.12;
Saddam Hussiem got his butt handed to him in the first Gulf War;
Microsoft released MS Dos 5.0 and Windows 3.0a with multimedia; and
Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure came out.

Brett attempted only 4 passes and completed none in 1991 and was traded from the Falcons to the Packers after the season. Apparently he partied too much in Atlanta.


Stats with Slats

OPhinions: Hey Slats, how ya doing?

Slats: Damn, I knew I forgot something this week.

OPhinions: What's that?

Slats: To get a restraining order. Just funning kid, or "lol", as you young whipper-snappers like to say.

OPhinions: We don't actually say...

Slats: I know, I know. By the way, did it ever occur to you that if you have to put "lol" or "hahaha" after everything you type you're not being sarcastic enough?  Don't answer.  Pull up a chair and look at what I got on my compooter.

OPhinions: I thought you hated computers.

Slats: I do. But compooters, like you, can be a useful tool now and again.  Now shut your yap for a second and listen, will ya?

Last week you looked at the run blocking of the Dolphins and concluded they ran to the right more often because the right side and Vernon Carey rated better than Long at run blocking. You also stated that Ricky Williams is getting too old to run up the middle all day long. I decided to check it out and see where the Dolphins actually ran last year.

First I divided the field into 5 running directions: left end [LE], left tackle [LT], left guard, center and right guard [MD for middle], right tackle [RT] and right end [RE]. Then I made up a few charts summarizing the data from a database I have. I grouped it for Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, and everybody else. I didn't separate out the wildcat plays and remember Ronnie only played 9 games last year. Ricky ended up with 60% more rushes than Ronnie - 242 to 147 and Ricky carried the ball on 50% of all Dolphin rushes.

With me so far? Good. First let's look at where the Dolphins ran.


As you can see running up the middle is their bread and butter, about 60% of all rushes last year, and Ricky carried the load last year. So Ricky can run up the middle all day long.  I doubt he would want  the 380+ carries he had in 2002-2003, but he's still durable. Now Ricky did run around the end more than behind the tackles but that could have been partly from the design of the plays like the wildcat. So you were right on that.

Overall the Dolphins ran slightly more to the left than right, but the difference is neglible. More than 50% of the "Others" plays up the middle came from Lousaka Polite and the QBs.

Ronnie liked to run more to the left and Ricky a little more to the right.  You can kind of see it in the chart below. It shows, by direction, the percentage plays run by each "player."


You can see that Ronnie ran behind the left tackle more than anyone else. Now lets look at how well the Dolphins ran in each direction, how many total yards.


As expected, the bulk of the yardage came from the middle. But notice that the left end had a lot of yards, 447 yards to be exact. Let's take a look-see at the average yards per rush, by direction.


A few things to note about this. 1] Ronnie and Ricky were close in yards/run between the tackles but Ricky is better around the end; 2] The left end did well. Maybe our quality run blocking tight ends had something to do about that but I don't know for sure; and 3] That  8.1 average for "Others" was helped by some longer runs: Ginn for 22 and 16 yds, White for 33, Cobbs and Bess for 19 and 11 respectively, and Hartline for 16.  Even Henne had a run for 12 yards around the left end.

The lesson is to check the facts before making general statements. So, you had enough schoolin' for 1 day?

OPhinions: Too much Slats, it's Sunday, dude.

Slats: "Dude"? OK, you're gonna pay for that. I'm giving you some homework, "dude."

OPhinions:  Homework??!!??

Slats:  Yeah, homework. Answer me this, smart guy: It's 3rd down and 2 yards to go. Are you more likely to run it or pass?

OPhinions: Uh, run I guess.

Slats: Don't guess, research it. And get back to me when you're done. I wanna see some charts and tables, you know, facts to back up your answer.

OPhinions: [mumble, grumble, mumble]

Slats: Don’t let the gate hit you in the ass on your way out. And don't take all week before getting back to me.  Geez, kids these days. When I was young....

*Slats Thompson contributed to this post. He is a retired linebacker/tight end who played semi-pro ball for the Mt. Washington RiverRats. Slats mainly wore a leather helmet back then which explains some of the things that come out of his mouth. Nowadays he likes to sit on his porch, yell at the neighborhood kids who run in his yard, and shoot the shit about football.  He is also an imaginary person, just one of the many voices in my head.

++ Using the words "hoodwinked", "whit", and "whipper-snappers" in the post: 1,487 points.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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