News & Analysis

5 things you need to know for Tuesday

By Alejandro Chavez
Aug 15, 2017

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HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons gets forced out of bounds by Logan Ryan #26 of the New England Patriots during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Hey there football fans! Here are five pieces of news from yesterday that you need to know to start out your Tuesdays:

T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree will start at OLB for the Steelers. The Steelers will forgo the rotational system they used at outside linebacker last season.

The Steelers were the only team that ran a 3-4 defense last season to have five outside linebackers play 300 or more snaps last season. Harrison led the group with 586 snaps played in 2016 but after Dupree returned from injury in Week 11, he led the team from then on with 318 snaps.

Watt’s snap count last season while at the University of Wisconsin was 661, sixth on the Badgers defense and 36th in the nation among outside linebackers. This was a huge jump from his 2015 season in which he played only 174 snaps.

Harrison, the oldest defensive player in the NFL, had the seventh highest pass rush productivity in the NFL among 3-4 outside linebackers on way to an 86.7 overall grade. Watt owned the fifth highest pass rush productivity by a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NCAA.

Devonta Freeman will not play in Atlanta’s second preseason game. Freeman suffered a head injury during a practice on Sunday.

Freeman accounted for 59.9 percent of the Falcons rush attempts in 2016, and ended the campaign with a PFF overall grade of 83.3, the eighth highest grade among running backs.

In 2016, he produced a breakaway percentage (the percentage of yards from runs of 15+ yards) of 37.5 percent, ranking fourth among all running backs with at least 170 rush attempts.

Freeman made a huge impact as a receiver in the postseason, amassing 168 receiving yards from 54 pass patterns, for an average of 3.11 yards per route run that led all running backs in the post season.

Jay Culter will likely start the second preseason game for the Dolphins. Cutler only signed with the team eight days ago.

Cutler enjoyed arguably the best season of his career in 2015 when Gase was his offensive coordinator in Chicago. In that season, Cutler became a more efficient quarterback – particularly in his decision-making – as evidenced by a career low 1.8 percent interception rate when under pressure.

Cutler averaged 7.58 yards per attempt in 2015 (the second-highest of his career) and had a passer rating of 96.3 on deep passes (targets 20 or more yards downfield). The rating was the best of his 11-year career.

Eagles rookie Derek Barnett shined in his preseason debut. His overall grade was 81.6.

Barnett was very productive as a pass-rusher, racking up four total pressures, all from the right side. He beat Packers starting left tackle David Bakhtiari for one of those pressures and picked up two sacks and a hit on the quarterback against Jason Spriggs, the Packers 2016 second-round pick. Barnett finished the day with a pass-rush productivity of 21.9.

Despite only playing six snaps against the run, Barnett picked up a stop, which was one of his three total stops on the day. A stop is classified as a tackle resulting in a defensive ‘win’.

Julio Jones will be featured more in the red zone this season. Jones’ red zone role has reportedly been a big focus in training camp.

Last year, Jones was only targeted nine times inside the red zone in the regular season, all of which came in just four games. On those nine targets, he was fairly productive with quarterbacks earning a passer rating of 101.9 when targeting him. The league average is just 89.0.

Teammates Devonta Freeman (16), Tevin Coleman (12), Jacob Tamme (11), Mohammed Sanu (10), and Justin Hardy (10) where all targeted more when inside the red zone.

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