This is a new feature in which we'll recap the weekly performances of the 19 former Ole Miss Rebels currently on active NFL rosters. This has been done before on other sites, but typically just by listing stat lines out of the box score. That's a woefully inadequate gauge for defenders and offensive linemen (xxx started the game and played xxx snaps doesn't tell us anything), so we're taking it a step further and ranking them by their grade at ProFootballFocus.com.
If you're unfamiliar with Pro Football Focus (PFF), it's an awesome site for NFL advanced stats that assigns a numerical grade for every player on every play of every game. You can get a full rundown of how they grade here, but this blurb sums up the basics:
The goal of our detailed grading process is to gauge how players execute their roles over the course of a game by looking at the performance of each individual on each play. We look beyond the stat sheet at game footage to try to gain an understanding of how well a lineman is blocking on a given play, how much space and help a runner is being given on a play, how effectively a pass rusher brings pressure or how well a defender covers a receiver.
Without getting too far into the nuts and bolts, here's the basic grading scale:
1 and higher = Above average
0 = Average
-1 and lower = Below average
Keep in mind that these grades consider not just raw statistics, but the context surrounding them. So if a wide receiver was wide open on a 20-yard reception, he gets a grade of 0 (average) on that play because it is expected that he'll make a wide open reception. Because of this, guys with good stat lines will sometimes get bad PFF grades, and vice versa.
Without further ado, let's jump into Week 1:
Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers DE
PFF grade: 2.2
The No Fun League took away his face paint, but Hardy still managed to tally a sack, a quarterback hit and two pressures against the Bucs. We'll see how much longer Hardy stays on the field, though -- uniform violations are the least of his concerns amidst the league's crackdown on domestic violence cases.
The NFL says a decision on potential discipline for #Panthers DE Greg Hardy is pending. He has an upcoming trial.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 8, 2014
Kendrick Lewis, Houston Texans FS
PFF grade: 1.7
Lewis bounced back from a rough final season in Kansas City with a good debut in Houston, making five tackles and allowing just one reception into his coverage. Even more significant for a guy that struggled to bring down the ball carrier last season: zero missed tackles.
Eli Manning, you know who he is
PFF grade: 1.2
Nobody benefits from smart statistics more than Eli Manning. Sure, he went 18-of-33 for 163 yards, one touchdown and two picks in an embarrassing loss to the Lions, but PFF factors in that he got absolutely zero help from his team. Just like last season, his receivers were out of sync (the first pick happened when the tight end ran the wrong route), his offensive line was terrible (two sacks, three hits and six hurries) and the ground game was nonexistent (53 yards rushing). Eli could be in for another long season, but at least PFF knows it's not his fault.
Patrick Willis, San Francisco 49ers ILB
PFF grade: 0.8
P-Willie notched six solo tackles and picked off Tony Romo in the end zone, because Tony Romo sucks.
Dexter McCluster, Tennessee Titans RB
PFF grade: 0.8
Dex quieted down after catching a 17-yard pass on the opening drive but finished with a respectable 46 yards from scrimmage. He was the second-most utilized option out of the backfield, tallying 10 touches (nine carries, one reception) -- four more than rookie backup running back Bishop Sankey (starter Shonn Greene had 15).
Michael Oher, Tennessee Titans RT
PFF grade: 0.4
Oher gave up a sack, struggled in run blocking and was called for a hold against the Chiefs -- but his performance wasn't all that bad considering he was going up against one of the best defensive fronts in the league. He actually graded higher than three of the other starters on the offensive line.
Bobby Massie, Arizona Cardinals RT
PFF grade: 0.4
Massie is locked in as the starter and played all 74 snaps, but allowed a sack and failed to fall on a fumble in the first half.
Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts WR
PFF grade: 0.3
Moncrief didn't eat much in his NFL debut: one catch for nine yards.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots RB
PFF grade: -0.5
Buried at third on the depth chart, Bolden had just two carries for eight yards and one catch for four yards.
Jerrell Powe, Houston Texans NT
PFF grade: -1.8
Powe is listed as a started but played only 21 of 66 defensive snaps against Washington, tallying two tackle assists. With third-round pick Louis Nix getting healthier, Powe's days as a starter may be limited.
Micheal Spurlock, Chicago Bears WR
PFF grade: -1.9
The former Rebel quarterback and current third-string receiver had one catch for eight yards and a dropped pass.
Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins WR
PFF grade: -2.0
This is an instance where PFF's grade doesn't match up with the raw stats. Wallace led the team with seven receptions and 81 yards and had a game-tying touchdown grab during the Dolphins' second-half comeback against the Pats.
Mike doesn't care about your shitty grade, PFF, because Mike don't fear nobody. Ever. In life. Period. No matter who it is.
Mike Wallace on Mike Wallace: "Here's the thing about Mike, Mike don't fear nobody" https://t.co/GPF4IVX6d3
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) September 8, 2014
John Jerry, New York Giants RG
PFF grade: -2.1
With the Giants' starting right guard hampered by a bad back, Jerry got the start against the Lions dominant defensive front ... and it did not go well. A missed assignment allowed Eli to be sacked and he was flat out abused in the run game. He left in the third quarter and may have blown his opportunity to take the full-time starting gig.
John Jerry is getting beat play after play after play. He's too high, not affecting DL with his punch.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) September 8, 2014
The rest of 'em
Trumaine McBride, New York Giants CB: Played on special teams.
Ashlee Palmer, Detroit Lions OLB: Did not play.
Jermey Parnell, Dallas Cowboys LT: Did not play.
Bradley Sowell, Arizona Cardinals LT: He's lost his starting job this year. How the hell he got it in the first place we'll never know.
Chris Spencer, Tennessee Titans C: Played two snaps.
Cassius Vaughn, Detroit Lions CB: Played on special teams.
Jamarca Sanford was released by Minnesota on Monday. The good news is that he received an injury settlement, meaning the Vikings will continue to pay him for an agreed upon length of time while he recovers from a quad injury. Sanford was a starter for the Vikes over the past three seasons.