Usually the best compliment you can give a right tackle is ignoring him. But the folks at Pro Football Focus shined the spotlight on New Orleans Saints right tackle Zach Strief this week, in a good way.
According to PFF, Strief is now the No. 1-ranked offensive tackle in pass-blocking efficiency this season, with a rating of 97.9. PFF analyst Steve Palazzolo also drafted Strief for his Midseason Pro Bowl team in a mock draft for ESPN.com Insider.
Those are some well-deserved kudos for the eighth-year veteran, who has bounced back nicely after struggling during an injury-plagued 2012 season. Strief missed the Saints’ game two weeks ago at New England with an ankle injury but returned this past Sunday against Buffalo and had a solid performance. According to Stats LLC, Strief has allowed one sack this season and has been flagged for one holding penalty.
The entire Saints offensive line needs to become more consistent in its run blocking. But they’ve been making strides in that department in recent weeks.
Scout the Jets: Make sure and bookmark ESPN.com’s New York Jets blog for everything coming out of Jets camp this week. There has already been a lot of good stuff from Jets coach Rex Ryan, complimenting his brother Rob and Saints quarterback Drew Brees, among other topics. My colleague Rich Cimini and I will break down the matchup at length in our weekly Double Coverage segment on Thursday.
False calls? As chronicled by Pro Football Talk, former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira disagreed with the false-start penalties called against Brees last Sunday against Buffalo. Pereira broke down the back-to-back plays during a segment on Fox Sports 1 and said that referee Terry McAulay got it wrong. Pereira said he saw no indication that Brees was making motions intended to draw the defense offside.
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The Advocate’s Ramon Antonio Vargas and WWLTV.com’s Bradley Handwerger both took time to appreciate Brees’ “under the radar” five-touchdown performance. Vargas said that while everyone spent last week worrying about the health of tight end Jimmy Graham’s left foot, things wound up being just fine because of Brees’ right arm. And Handwerger, who broke down Brees’ performance on a replay of the game tape, wrote that Brees makes the remarkable look average.
The Times-Picayune’s Larry Holder credited the Saints’ defense for setting the tone in his weekly film study.
The Advocate’s Gary Estwick wrote that linebacker David Hawthorne’s performance will make it hard for Jonathan Vilma to get his old starting job back once he returns to the Saints’ active roster.