Welp, I really thought this post was gonna be a lot more interesting than it ended up being. Apologies in advance. But hey, I made a promise yesterday, and I've already typed it all out, so I guess I'll go ahead and post it.

Back in February, I went ahead and threw a few bucks in the general direction of Pro Football Focus (and I promise, this post isn't a PFF ad, though at times it might read like it is.) Anyway, they were running an "offseason special" for $20 or so, so I figured what the hell. Then I got an email over the summer saying they were extending the signup through the regular season free of charge, which was nice. So every now and then I stare at a bunch of HTML tables and see if anything jumps out at me.

It can be interesting, because they list a bunch of stats that can otherwise be hard to find. Things like dropped passes, missed tackles, QB hits and pressures, that kind of stuff. They've also concocted a handful of their own proprietary stats like "stops" and "elusiveness" based on their own formulas. And they have their own (subjective, of course) "player ratings" which are then used to rank players. And on and on like that.

They're not the end-all be-all, of course. And ultimately, there's a lot of subjectivity that goes into their "grades" and whatnot. So, grain of salt and all. But I find that they do frequently shed a little additional light on certain things from time to time. Sometimes they can be counterintuitive, and then you have to decide whether to reconsider, or to just call bullshit.

I was checking them out yesterday, and unfortunately, based on a couple of things that jumped out at me and raised an eyebrow, I made a snap decision to go ahead and build a post on it today. But the deeper I got, the less interested I became. Started to realize that the one or two things I saw yesterday were about it for now. But screw it. Here it is anyway…

Drew's Slow Decline Continues
Let's ease into this, okay? It may come as a shock to you that PFF currently rates Drew Brees as the best quarterback on the Saints roster. Furthermore, Drew is rated as the Saints' best player overall. Hopefully those revelations didn't make your head explode.

They have Drew ranked as the 3rd best QB in the league, behind Tom Brady and Josh Freeman. Freeman's overall rating is brought up slightly by his rushing/scrambling ability. Based on passing alone, Drew is #2 and Freeman is #3. Drew is currently 6th in the league in completion percentage (67.4%) and that includes 3 throwaways, 1 spike and 3 drops. He's 3rd in passing yards, behind Cam Newton and Tony Romo. He's 9th in yards per attempt (8.0) and 3rd in passing touchdowns with 6, behind Matthew Stafford and Ryan Fitzpatrick who each have 7. He's 4th in the league with a passer rating of 114.9, behind Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Joe Flacco.

None of that stuff is particularly interesting. This just in: All indications are that Drew Brees is still an elite quarterback. Yeah, I know. "Well no shit, Sherlock." Fair enough.

I did find this interesting though: Drew is currently the 6th least-pressured QB in the league, having been pressured on 26 of his 92 dropbacks, or 28.3%. Furthermore, he's 3rd in the league with a completion percentage of 72.2% when pressured. Gotta love that quick decision-making and release, not to mention all those reliable checkdown options. REG-GIE! REG-GIE! REG-GIE!

Also of note, all 4 NFC South QBs are currently in the top 8 in the league according to PFF's ratings. Freeman's #2, Brees is #3, Newton is #4 and The Great Matty Ice is bringing up the rear, tied with Jason Campbell for #7.

The Fickle Fingram of Fate
PFF's overall rating has the tailbacks ranked like this: Sproles 26th in the league, Pierre 36th, Ingram 47th. (Just for the sake of curiosity, Reggie is 52nd.)

Not a whole lot of particular interest here either. One thing did raise an eyebrow though, PFF has Ingram 17th in the league according to their proprietary "Elusive Rating" which attempts to separate the tailback from the performance of the blocking in front of him and determine how hard the back is to take down.

I choose to take this as an indication that Ingram is (not will be, but already is) a whole lot better than things like his yards and yards per carry suggest so far. He's being held back by the situations in which he's being used. Namely, lots of short-yardage situations and obvious rushing downs. And taking that into account, he's doing pretty damn well actually.

Now, don't take my use of the phrase "held back" as an implication that Sean Payton is doing anything wrong here. Ingram's not only a rookie, he's a rookie who has only had his freakin' playbook less than 2 months at this point. Even rookie holdouts in a normal year get their playbooks, have OTAs and minicamps and all that good shit. Ingram had none of that. Payton has two grizzled veteran tailbacks at his disposal, and one of them has been in the system for half a decade. Right now, Ingram's getting mostly grunt work, but that's not gonna last forever. Patience, people. Patience.

Beast Mode
We touched on Devery's hot start a little bit yesterday. PFF currently has him ranked 3rd in the league. He's 5th in the league in receiving yards, 7th in yards per reception, 13th in percentage caught (81.8%) and has posted 0 drops. He's posted the 4th longest reception in the league so far this season (79 yards.) He's tied for 3rd in the league in receiving touchdowns, and he's 3rd in the league in tackles blocked/avoided. Devery's also one of only 28 receivers in the league who PFF gives a positive rating in terms of blocking.

Beast Mode II
This just in: Jimmy Graham is a monster. PFF has him ranked 2nd in the league overall, behind only Tony Gonzalez. Here's the interesting part though: PFF only has him ranked 5th in receiving. His #2 overall ranking is due to his being ranked 1st in the league in… run blocking? That's right, run blocking. He's tied with Kellen Winslow for 5th in the league in receptions and 5th in receiving yards. He's tied for 8th in yards after the catch (YAC!) and has posted 0 drops. PFF currently rates him as the second best player on the Saints' offense. And here's a shocker, he's rated as the best run blocker on the team. That's right, above Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks.

On the other hand, what the hell has happened to Dave Thomas? PFF currently ranks him as the single worst player on the Saints' offense. He's got negative ratings in receiving, run blocking and pass blocking. Ouch. Yet Thomas has been in on 49 "blocking snaps" while Graham has only been in on 34. That might need to change.

One Toke Over the Line
PFF's got 'em ranked thusly, best to worst: Evans, Bushrod, Nicks, Strief, Kreutz. The only surprise there is Bushrod being rated better than Nicks, I guess.

Memo to Sean Payton: Run the ball to the right side of the line. Specifically, off right tackle. Evans, Strief and Graham all have positive ratings in run blocking, while Kreutz, Nicks and Bushrod all have negative ratings.

And FREE MATT TENNANT already! PFF rates Kreutz as the Saints' worst o-lineman, and the second worst player on the whole offense. And that seems about right to me. Sheesh, can Tennant really be that bad?

QB pressures: Strief with 8, Kreutz with 4, Bushrod with 4, Evans with 3 and Nicks with 0.

Young Hearts Be Free Tonight
Who had Turk McBride and Junior Galette being the Saints' best defensive ends through 2 games? (Don't answer that, Message Board Guy. We know, you called it on Junior as soon as they signed him.)

Turk's had a sack, a QB hit and 5 QB pressures in only 58 pass-rush snaps so far. This guy, this is my kinda guy. Incidentally, the Vanilla Gorilla has also posted 5 pressures in 57 pass-rush snaps. McBride and Charleston are tied for the team lead, and they're tied for 10th in the league among 43 DE's. (PFF separates 43 and 34 DEs.)

Meanwhile, Junior's 2 sacks have him tied for 4th in the league, despite playing only 50 snaps so far. Justin Tuck has played the next-fewest (61) and everybody else with 2 or more sacks has played 79 or more snaps. Most of them have played well over 100.

PFF has Turk ranked 13th in the league among 43 DEs, and they have Junior ranked 20th in the league.

PFF currently has the defensive tackles ranked thusly: Mitch King, Aubrayo Franklin, Sedrick Ellis, Shaun Rogers.

King is the only one of the bunch who has a positive overall rating, and he's the only one with a positive rating vs. the run. Which might have something to do with King having played by far the fewest run-defense snaps of the bunch. Or maybe he ought to be in on more run-defense snaps.

In fact, King has played fewer snaps than any Saints DT with the exception of… Shaun Rogers. Which brings up another point, when the fuck is Shaun Rogers planning on showing up? Rogers has only been in on 36 snaps so far and the only stat he's posted so far has been a whopping half-tackle. No sacks, no hits, no pressures, no solos, no batted passes, no stops. No nothing.

And that'll be the end of our ill-advised little stats exercise for now. Sorry about that, I really thought this was gonna be way more interesting than it turned out to be. Maybe it's just too early in the season. Maybe I just suck at it. I'm sure I'll end up trying it again at some point later in the season when stats become a lot more relevant and interesting with a larger sample size. And it might suck then too. You have been warned.

The shame of it all is that if I had given it a bit more thought, it would have occurred to me to reserve today's internet jackassery time for more amusing subject matter. Like ripping the living fuck out of the so-called "new and improved" nola dot com Saints section. Guh. Not that it wasn't broke, because it was. Still, by the looks of it, they damn sure shouldn't have "fixed" it. I've got a couple thousand words in me on that issue, but it'll have to wait. Meantime, good luck with aaaaaall that.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go pour a 40 on the curb for Joique.

I'll do better next time.

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