Falcons: Reaction to The PFF 101

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PFF released their annual top 101 which represents the best individual performances this season, regardless of position. PFF is so analytically driven that sometimes I think they get ahead of themselves, but this list did look pretty accurate to the football I watched. Their criteria is reasonable, except for the fact that players of playoff teams are worth more than others, which contradicts their “player evaluating” because football is the ultimate team game.

This list is based solely on 2020 play. Past or future play is not accounted for. This isn’t about class or talent; it’s about performance throughout the 2020 NFL season.

This list is created with an “all positions are created equal” mantra. So, you won’t see 32 quarterbacks heading the list, even though that is the game’s most valuable position. Instead, we take a look at how guys played relative to what is expected from their position.

Unlike PFF’s awards, the 101 factors in the postseason, so some players who won PFF awards may find themselves jumped in the 101 by rivals who had a playoff run worthy of a change in ranking.

Obviously, the Falcons didn’t make the playoffs this year, which negatively affects some of the team. For instance, A.J. Brown ranked 22nd on the list and Julio Jones was left off the list. On a per-game basis, Julio averaged more receptions and yards than Brown — granted he only appeared in nine games.

The Falcons had three players included on the list; Calvin Ridley (56), Matt Ryan (66), and Grady Jarrett (89). Jarrett is the biggest slight of any player in Atlanta, even more so than Julio being left off entirely. There were seven interior defensive linemen ranked ahead of him, which is insane considering Jarrett ranked third in pass-rush win rate — behind Aaron Donald and Chris Jones — and eighth in run-stop win rate — behind Quinnen Williams and Jeffrey Simmons. Williams and Jarrett were the only interior defenders who ranked in the top ten in both.

Grady being ranked in the top ten of run-stop win rate directly contradicts PFF’s reasoning for dropping him from 27 a year ago. “The difference between this year and the previous two was his run defense, which wasn’t as effective.” Daron Payne had a lesser percentage of run-stop win rate, but PFF graded his run defense significantly higher — how’s that make sense?

The wide receivers ahead of Calvin Ridley are also laughable. Corey Davis, Adam Thielen, and A.J. Brown are all inferior receivers to Ridley and Julio. Expect a massive drop off from Davis and Brown after playing in Arthur Smith’s offense.

Ryan Tannehill was ranked higher than Matt Ryan, and for the same reason as Davis and Brown, Tannehill will surely fall off this year. Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins also ranked higher than Matty Ice — insanity. One year in Arthur Smith’s offense will surely vault Ryan over Tannehill, Carr, and Cousins.


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