Blitzing Drew Brees worked in 2011. This goes against conventional wisdom, but it's also undeniably true. According to the Football Outsiders' Almanac, Brees produced an NFL-high 8.3 yards-per-pass play when opponents rushed three or four defenders last year. The average dropped to 7.2 yards (still good) against five defenders, and down to 6.8 yards against a big blitz of six defenders or more.
This is not what we expected. It is not what opposing defensive coordinators expected either, or they would have blitzed more. No quarterback saw fewer "big blitzes" in the NFL than Brees. This is not a new trend either; Brees has been better against four rushers than a blitz for three years running.
(Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, was more effective last year the more pass rushers you sent at him.)
- Cam Newton's had a sensational year passing, which often shows up in Carolina's running stats. The team averaged 6.3 yards-per-carry on shotgun handoffs, partly because defenses were so worried about Newton. Cam converted 10-of-10 short yardage situations where he needed three or fewer yards for a first down.
- Something I didn't expect to see: The Bears max protected for their quarterbacks the third most of any team in the league.
A Good Day for ...
- It's been a quiet camp for Marshawn Lynch, which is a good thing. Reports indicate he's running faster after losing some weight. More importantly, he hasn't heard from Commissioner Goodell yet.
Random Thoughts from watching Preseason Live
- Blaine Gabbert's debut was a mixed bag. I liked how quickly the ball came out of his hand in the first drive. He got nice protection. He had a handful of real ugly plays and throws after that. Things were improved, so it's a start.
On the Agenda
Like Gregg Williams, we're on a mission of self-discovery. Today will include our weekly mailbag and coverage of the two games Thursday night. Some of our features from Wednesday included a look at the Cowboys' playoff prospects and offensive power rankings. Thanks for reading. We love you all equally.