NFL Nation: personnel report

The knock on Beanie Wells coming out of Ohio State was that he too often shied away from contact.

[+] EnlargeBeanie Wells
AP Photo/Paul ConnorsBeanie Wells carried the ball 27 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants.
"Wells is a big back, but he does not have great toughness," Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. said after the Arizona Cardinals made Wells the 31st player chosen in the 2009 draft. "There's a clip you'll see against Michigan where he is 20 yards downfield and one-on-one against a back and he steps out of bounds. Not encouraging."

Wells put to rest some of those concerns for stretches during his rookie season, but a disappointing 2010 season revived perceptions. Now that Wells is back to running over defenders and providing a physical presence to the Cardinals' ground game, what should we make of the apparent inconsistencies?

"I don’t think anything has changed," Wells told the Doug & Wolf Show on Sports 620 KTAR in Phoenix. "If you go back to last year at the end of last year, it was one of those years where I had the knee injury all year. It kind of lingered. Right now, I think you guys are just seeing a healthy me. I think it is more comparable to how I ran my rookie year to how I am running now. I feel similar."

That makes sense. Wells did suffer a preseason knee injury in 2010, undergoing surgery.

There's no question Wells is running with greater authority and welcoming contact so far this season. He has missed one game to injury, reinforcing concerns about his durability, but he carried 27 times for 138 yards and three touchdowns against the New York Giants in his first game back. Those were career-high numbers.

The chart, based on date provided by Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information, shows Wells' rushing yardage by down and the Cardinals' offensive personnel. He has gained 70.7 percent of his yardage on first down and 65.2 percent of that first-down yardage from two-receiver personnel, which covers most base offense in the NFL. Wells is, in other words, giving the Cardinals old-fashioned production on the ground.


Personnel report: NFC West QB production

September, 21, 2011
A common thread tied together Kevin Kolb's 73- and 70-yard touchdown passes in his first two games with the Arizona Cardinals.

Both plays came when the Cardinals had four wide receivers on the field, two more than a base personnel group would feature.

Kolb, acquired from Philadelphia during the offseason, likes spreading out defenses with additional wide receivers.

Such personnel often requires quarterbacks to make quick decisions because pressure tends to arrive more quickly in the absence of additional blockers. That was the case for Kolb on his two long scoring passes.

The first, a 70-yarder to Early Doucet against Carolina in Week 1, came as Kolb stared down heavy pressure. On the second, a 73-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald against Washington on Sunday, Kolb delivered a deep pass right before the Redskins' London Fletcher hit him hard from the blind side.

Kolb has completed passes for 73, 70, 24, 19, 16 and 12 (twice) yards among his 11 completions in 19 attempts from four-receiver groupings. He has taken one sack and passed for 242 of his 560 yards from this personnel, averaging a healthy 12.8 yards per attempt.

The charts show passing production for NFC West quarterbacks based on how many wide receivers were on the field. I've charted such information for five years, including since 2008 for all NFC West teams, but after more than 10,000 plays, I'm taking a few off. The ESPN Stats & Information team is tacking this data. A big "thanks" to them for passing it along.


The second chart maintains the same order for quick comparison. It contains yardage totals for the same categories, providing perspective. For example, the Seattle Seahawks' Tarvaris Jackson averages 17 yards per attempt with one wide receiver on the field, but as the second chart reveals, he has only one attempt with that personnel.