Another website published something interesting about minis?
2 posts • Page 1 of 1
Pro Football Focus released their QB Annual last week Joe Montana Jersey , and you know what that means. It’s time to scour the pages of the 341-page tome for golden nuggets of information that tell us more about Nick Mullens than any crowd-noise track ever could. Before you dig in to the takeaways, I highly recommend reading Steve Palazzolo and Sam Monson’s fantastic primer detailing the mechanics PFF’s grading system as it pertains to quarterbacks. It’s one of the most clear explanations of what goes into grading and it defines terms used throughout the recap. Nick Mullens plays it safer than Alex SmithPart of the value of the QB Annual is the statistical rigor they apply to quarterback analytics. Through their evaluation we learn that certain statistics are fairly stable year to year, meaning they are more likely to predict future performance. However, others serve a more descriptive purpose. They merely describe what happened in a given game, or year, but aren’t likely to remain consistent year to year. A quarterback’s percentage of negatively graded throws is one of those predictive metrics. Sorry Mitchell Trubisky fans, but if your quarterback has a penchant for making poor throws that behavior isn’t likely to change dramatically from year to year. Nick Mullens ranked 11th in negative play rate out of thirty-five qualifying quarterbacks. If you look specifically at turnover-worthy plays, the plays to which PFF assigns the worst grades, Mullens ranks 15th. Mullens avoids turnover worthy plays at roughly the same rate as Nick Foles, Marcus Mariota, and Baker Mayfield. Turnover worthy plays result in turnovers about 50% of the time, so being in the “safe” category is a plus for Mullens. Mullens isn’t attempting, or executing, many difficult throwsAvoiding negative plays is only part of the recipe for successful quarterbacking. A good quarterback also executes on difficult NFL throws. Generally speaking, those are throws that have excellent ball location and timing. They are also thrown farther down field, typically into a tight window.The first problem for Mullens is that he doesn’t really make many downfield throws. On first and second read throws, which make up the vast majority of NFL throws for a quarterback, Mullens’ average depth of target was 9.15 yards. That’s 1.65 yards below NFL average for that subset of throws. Mullens also ranked dead last in big time throw percentage.Mullens ball location also left something to be desired in 2018. On intermediate throws, the money throws in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, Mullens accuracy was 8.5 percentage points below NFL average. When it came to throwing into tight windows Mullens didn’t fare much better. When a defender was in within a step of the receiver, Mullens’ accuracy rate was over 21 percentage points below average. But if Mullens was relatively inaccurate, how did he amass those gaudy yardage totals? Some of it was game script, but a large piece of that was Kyle Shanahan’s scheme. 52 percent of Mullens throws were to open receivers, a relatively easy throw for an NFL quarterback. And even with those open looks Womens Ahkello Witherspoon Jersey , only two quarterbacks had more catchable inaccurate passes than Mullens — meaning his receivers often helped mask some of Mullens’ inaccuracies. Mullens struggles outside of structureMullens played his best football within the cozy structure of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The second-year quarterback ranked 15th in the NFL in PFF grade from a clean pocket, which is a couple spots better than Matt Ryan. Mullens also succeeded when throwing the ball quickly. Mullens’ 102.3 quarterback rating on throws made in 2.5 seconds or less compares favorably to Kirk Cousins. But when things started to fall apart, so did Mullens. On throws that extended past 2.6 seconds Mullens’ passer rating drops to 76.5. But perhaps more telling, his expected points added (EPA) per play plummets to-.11. That’s right — Mullens effectively takes points off the board when he takes longer than 2.6 seconds to throw the ball. And if Mullens is forced to scramble due to pressure things get even worse. He only completes one of every five passes, a rate well below average. And his expected points “added” plummets to -.48. The NFL average EPA on scramble drill plays is .03.Nick Mullens is by no means ready to take over the starting role for an NFL team. Sub-optimal accuracy and an inability to execute difficult throws limits his effectiveness. If anything, the key takeaway from his chapter should be “Kyle Shanahan is amazing.” But Mullens has proven that, at times, he can be a moderately effective shepherd for Shanahan’s offense, and he’s good at avoiding disaster. This is exactly why he’s earned a spot competing for the backup role in 2019. OK, heads up. This column is going to do two completely different things: introduce a crazy idea (which happens to be true), and then see if it applies to the 49ers.My idea is that Nick Foles of the Eagles is a new kind of quarterback: a closer, like Mariano Rivera. Except he doesn’t close out games, he closes out seasons. Foles is not a good starting NFL quarterback. That has been established, in his rookie season (1-5, coach fired), and at St. Louis and in Kansas City, and in the preseason this year. More than anything, he’s inconsistent — hot and cold. In the first two games this year, he managed just 117 yards, no TDs and an interception against the Falcons, then lost the season’s most improbable shootout against Ryan Fitzpatrick (in his swaggy bling triumph) despite 334 yards and a TD.But he finished last season as strong as possible, playing near-perfect in three playoff wins as he led the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots — as the game’s MVP. Since Wentz got injured again this year, Foles has won four straight games as Philadelphia secured an improbable wild card slot, and won its first playoff game against Chicago.It’s not just that he’s lucky or clutch Trent Taylor Jersey , though he is both. Foles’s skill set — good and bad — make him better suited for the playoffs than the regular season, at least on this Eagles squad. It’s a wonderful trait for a backup quarterbackSpecifically, he is even tempered, clutch, tall (6’6), great under pressure and against the blitz, gets the ball out quick, and knows his limits. Even his weaknesses help, in some ways. He is one of the slowest QBs around (5.14 in the 40-yard dash, slower than many offensive linemen), which pushes him to get the ball out quickly or throw it away. And he is realistic about what he shouldn’t do.He does not have the arm strength, ball velocity or tight space accuracy of Wentz, so he plays it safer and favors underneath passes for yards after catch, or aspirational long balls that his receivers either run under, or they drop safely on the turf. In the playoffs, when you are more likely to face elite cornerbacks, this is useful.He is also best with a lot of Chip Kelly’s old playbook — mesh routes and run pass options — that arguably restrain his coach Doug Pederson’s more dangerous instincts.NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks quoted an unnamed former NFL offensive assistant:The results were broken down in a fascinating article by Benjamin Solak at Bleeding Green Nation. It’s very detailed (and long); if you have some time, it’s worth reading the whole thing.He praises Foles’ processing speed and pre-snap recognition, and also his risk aversion. “Carson is also guilty of playing hero ball,” he notes. Ironically, not trying to be the hero is what makes you a playoff hero, at least on a talented team with a good scheme.The Eagles are a different offense with Foles — more 12 personnel than 11, yet fewer throws and yards go to tight end Zach Ertz, and more to WR Alshon Jeffrey. The team runs more and involves the running backs in the passing game; it’s a lot of “mismatch ball.”So it’s not just a crazy fluke; he really is better suited to playoff ball. Of course Tom Rathman Jersey White , he still wouldn’t have played unless Wentz got injured again. His limitations make it unlikely that he could succeed for a full season (and of course, he hasn’t, except during Chip Kelly’s first year, 2013.) It was Wentz who led the Eagles to an 11-2 record that got them a bye and the home field advantage in last year’s playoffs.Even in these playoffs, it’s likely that coaches will be better prepared and schemed against his skill set than they were last year. He did not have a great game against Chicago, getting picked twice, and needing considerable luck (doink doink) to win by one point, 16-15. The Eagles’ great defense doesn’t hurt. But Foles did lead a fourth quarter TD drive to win.So even if it’s working for Philadelphia, I don’t expect teams to start looking for playoff closers a la Foles, per se. But sort of; I define a great backup player as either a raw developmental player with a high ceiling (Steve Young or Aaron Rodgers), or a guy who could conceivably come in and win at least one playoff game. Foles is the best of the latter kind.So that brings us to part 2 — is Nick Mullens a Foles-type closer? He did come in after injuries and have improbable success. They even share the nickname BDN (Big SITEDECORUM Nick).I’d say, sort of yes and sort of no.No, because Mullens lacks Foles’ height (he’s just 6’1”) and his uncanny calmness, and is just a less talented guy in general. Yes, because he makes the most of his limits, in particular decisiveness and getting the ball out quickly (so as not to be killed) unlike the toughness of Beathard, which helps no one. He’s a bit faster than Foles (4.90 in the 40 yard dash), but as we’ve seen that might make him less of a closer (if more of a regular season QB).The bottom line is, Nick Mullens hasn’t had any real clutch situations to test his mettle. I think that he has, at the very least, a big leg up on Beathard for the Niners’ backup role next year though. If all goes well, and an injury happens, I can think of worse people to come off the bench and try to finish out a game in January.