GREG HARDY - Dispelling Myths about the DL

This will be a long post, full of raw data, but I've spent many hours grading game film, so that several incorrect assumptions about our DL personnel could be clarified. As I promised, on this thread.

(If my play analysis shows me to be wrong, I’ll admit it freely, BTW.)

But it didn't.

This also answers criticism of Hardy that derived from an earlier thread. I let this early thread go by, without much comment, but when Revshawn was so laudatory in his praise of James, and repeated the myth (about our Run Defense), I started taking a look - because I thought that they were seeing it wrong.

I don't post often about Cap Space, because contracts are so fluid, and I have no idea of management's intentions.

And I similarly avoid much involvement in Mock Drafts, because, as my good friend, Jake Humphrey once said, about college players:

Proper evaluation is an inexact science.

More than that, I have no dog in the fight, from college affiliations, and, again, have no idea of management intentions, as to what they perceive their needs to be. I don't do windows, or FF, and I don't play a GM on TV.

All that said, if it's evaluation of a particular NFL player, with film available to study, I'll put forth the effort to justify an opinion, not just wing it with a cursory, off-the-cuff comment.

All that's preamble. Here we go, from what I gleaned from intensive study of the 2 Panther games I still had on DVR: game 14, at Houston; and game 15, vs Tampa Bay.

They are admittedly only an 1/8th of the last season, but they both came late, and therefore better represent what the future might hold, rather than much earlier games, with rawer talent. And one was a home game, one away. One was against a highly touted Division Winner; the other vs a dog loser with a coach who was a dead man walking.

I have every defensive play individually described, and if anyone wants details, ask. But here's the summary of those 2 games, as to how the reps were divided among our DL, and especially what spots were manned, how often, by Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy. Remember, the main thrust of this whole endeavor is to dispel the myth that Hardy is responsible for only one side of our DL, and it's the side that was ranked 32nd in the NFL.

Game 14, 12/18/11, at Houston, won by Carolina, 28-13.

Our Defense held the Texans to only 10 series, a total of 60 plays.

First, the reps. This will show the DL coaches really get everybody involved, with constant shuttling in subs, which the casual observer probably doesn't notice.

Charles Johnson, 47 plays (21 at LDE, 23 at RDE, 3 at RDT.)

Greg Hardy, 50 plays (21 at LDE, 22 at RDE, 3 at LDT, 4 at RDT.)

Andre Neblett, 40 at DT

Frank Kearse, 23 at DT

Jason Shirley, 23 at DT

Ogemdi Nwagbuo, 14 at DT

Thomas Keiser, 25 plays (16 at LDE, 9 at RDE)

Antwan Applewhite, 18 plays (3 at LDE, 8 at LDT, 1 at RDT, 6 at RDE)

Second, the results, (but only on their 25 rushes, because we're not concerned with pass defense in any of these discussions):

4 runs around their LE gained +6, -1, +2, and +7 yds (the 1st 3 of those were when Hardy was RDE, the last Johnson)

4 runs were off their LT: +1, +8, +5, +15. (the first and last were vs Hardy, the other 2, Johnson)

7 runs off LG gained +1, +9, +5, +5, +4, +1, and +3.

3 off RG netted +4, +22, and +6.

3 off RT went for +4, +18, and +9 (these were on Hardy, then Johnson, then Keiser, playing LDE)

only 1 rush went to their RE, gaining +6, when Hardy was at LDE.

(The others were QB scrambles.)

Random Notes on the Houston game:

7 Runs to the Tackle and End, with Hardy on that side, gained 33 yds, averaging 4.7.

4 Runs to the Tackle and End, with Johnson on that side, gained 38 yds, averaging 8.2 yds.

Johnson and Hardy switched assignments within 7 of the 10 series, and on 2 others, Hardy only played at Tackle, when Keiser and CJ went outside. I didn't specify it, but on many series, the 2 DTs would also switch up.

Despite a rookie QB, Yates, we didn't blitz until the 8th series, halfway through the 3rd quarter, comfortably ahead, 21-3. There were only 3 blitzes in this game, by Senn, Anderson, and Connor.

Hardy was doubled-teamed 3 times, Johnson not at all.

Hardy recorded 1 Sack, 1 QB Hurry and a pass deflection (Q2, 11:40) - these last 2 plays were back to back, leading to 2 incompletions, and a 3-and-out punt by Houston, in their 4th Series.

Game 15, 12/24/11, vs Tampa Bay, won by Carolina, 48-16.

Because we scored so often, and often quickly, and because they turned it over 4 times, (and twice more on downs), they had more series (12) than Houston, and ran 68 plays - only 19 were rushes, gaining only 59 yds.

First, the reps:

Charles Johnson, 21 plays (14 at LDE, 7 at RDE) He was dinged twice in the game, and the game was out of hand, anyway. He only saw 4 plays in the second half.

Greg Hardy, 59 plays (30 at LDE, 21 at RDE, 5 at LDT, 3 at RDT)

Andre Neblett, 35 plays at DT.

Frank Kearse, 35 at DT.

Jason Shirley, 20 at DT.

Ogemdi Nwagbuo, 33 at DT.

Thomas Keiser, 42 plays (13 at LDE, 29 at RDE)

Antwan Applewhite, 26 plays (11 at LDE, 2 at LDT, 4 at RDT, 9 at RDE)

Second, the results:

1 rush around their LE lost 2 yds (TFL by Hardy, when at RDE)

2 off their LT gained +8 and +8, vs Johnson and Hardy

6 off their LG resulted in: a Forced Fumble (1st play), +9, +2, +2, 0, and +1.

5 off their RG went for +4, 0, +3, +3, and +4.

3 off RT gained 0 (CJ), +7 (CJ), and +3 (Keiser)

2 off RDE got -2 (TFL by Anderson) and +4 (Hardy)

Random Notes on the Tampa Bay game:

Our platoon of DTs pretty much stuffed the middle all day, allowing 28 yds on 11 carries, average of 2.5 yds. I think this speaks well of the job Neblett, Kearse, Shirley, and Nwagbuo are starting to do. They were gouged in the last game against N.O., I know, but that's a vastly superior OL.

Neblett was hurt in this game, colliding with CJ in the 3rd quarter, and used sparingly after that, allowing Nwagbuo and Kearse more reps.

The workhorse, on the field for 59 of the 68 plays on defense, Hardy acquitted himself well, with a TFL of 2 yds on a running play, 2 QB hits, 2 other Hurries (one of which came on a nice spin move, seldom used by him, in the 11th series), and a Forced Fumble, denying a 2-point conversion pass play, also in that series. This would have been a Sack, because he tackled Freeman 7 yds in the backfield, but those aren't counted on conversion tries. He was doubled 5 times.

Both Johnson and Hardy were guilty of Offsides Penalties on the 2nd series, but not thereafter, as they adjusted to Josh Freeman's snap count.

3 runs to the End or Tackle , with Hardy on that side, gained 10 yds, a 3.3 average.

3 runs to the End or Tackle, with Johnson on that side, gained 15, a 5 yd average.

So what conclusions can be drawn from all this?

Here's what James had to say in his "What Went Wrong" post:

It will take a few more weeks for the advanced statisticians to get us detailed metrics on each player on the defensive line, but what we know already is where the glaring weakness is in stopping the run. As it stands we have run defense stats based on where our opponents got their gains, courtesy of Football Outsiders.

Left end (ROLB reponsibility): 3.93 YPC, 10th in the NFL

Left tackle (Charles Johnson responsibility): 3.96 YPC, 13th in the NFL

Mid/Guard (NT/DT responsibility): 4.53 YPC, 31st in the NFL

Right tackle (Greg Hardy responsibility): 5.62 YPC, 32nd in the NFL

Right end (James Anderson responsibility): 5.63 YPC, 32nd in the NFL

Am I that advanced statistician? For these 2 games, I think I am.

I also think I've proven that Football Outsiders might have their numbers right, so far as the TEAM goes, but whether it was they, or James, who assigned those "responsibility" labels to our individual players (ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO GREG HARDY), it was patently wrong. He is as good (better?) than CJ in run defense, IMO.

I've detailed the work of 8 Panther DLmen in 2 of our last 3 games, and it should be apparent that the coaches are shuffling, rearranging, and evaluating which of them will play a part in the team of 2012. Personally, I didn't see a weak link in any of the 8.

Lastly, I wish to take the liberty of repeating a post I made in Revshawn's post (linked above), which, (because of all the Front Page articles coming on recently, only stayed there for 3 days) might have gotten overlooked by some:

There is a general misconception that Hardy is a RDE, and that all rushes to that side are his responsibility, and therefore that all successful rushes to our right side are his fault.

I would remind all that Hardy and Johnson switched sides numerous times last year, often in the same series, and that Hardy was assigned to rush from DT in many sets, too, when Applewhite and/or Keiser would come in on 3rd down passing situations.

He is NOT a static player, with only one responsibility, and even drops in pass coverage from time to time.

I made it a point to check the changing defensive lineups that McDermott employed, and the switches of positions were far more than most teams employ.

Hardy is a versatile defensive lineman, who lines up anywhere, is many times doubled, often held, and in general, under-appreciated. The stats shown minimize his effectiveness, with their stress on Sacks, and don’t show the many pressures and hurries he got, as well.

by bigdavis on Feb 17, 2012 1:35 PM EST reply actions 6 recs

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