Stats & Info: Cary Williams

What challenges await new NFC coaches?

July, 25, 2013
Eight NFL teams welcome new head coaches to the sideline this season. We take a closer look at some of the challenges those coaches will face. Here’s a look at the NFC (the AFC can be found here.

Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Arians
2012 record: 5-11

Big addition: Carson Palmer has to be an improvement on the 21.4 Total QBR posted by Cardinals quarterbacks last season, worst in the league.

One headache: Has the offensive line improved enough? Adding Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford in the draft should help, but Arizona’s line allowed a sack every 11.7 dropbacks last season, worst in the NFL.

Key stat: The defense is ready to win now, finishing with the fourth-best Total QBR allowed last year (40.0). However, the offense cost the Cardinals 217.4 expected points last year, more than 100 points worse than the second-worst offense (Kansas City Chiefs, -107.94).

Chicago Bears: Marc Trestman
2012 record: 10-6

Big additions: Free-agent offensive linemen Jermon Bushrod, Matt Slauson, Eben Britton and first-round pick Kyle Long will help keep Jay Cutler upright. Cutler’s been sacked every 13.2 dropbacks in his Bears career (2009-12), most among 28 quarterbacks with 1,000 dropbacks in that span.

One headache: Can anyone take pressure off Brandon Marshall? There was a 140-target difference between Marshall (188 targets) and Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffrey last season (48 each), the second-biggest margin between a first and second target in the league.

Key stat: In the last five seasons, the Bears’ defense allowed 16 more touchdowns than interceptions with Brian Urlacher off the field and had 12 more interceptions than touchdowns with him on the field.

Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly
2012 record: 4-12

Big addition: Cary Williams is the biggest addition in the secondary, after disrupting 24 dropbacks last year (interception, pass defensed or sack). Only Richard Sherman (26) had more among defensive backs.

One headache: Lane Johnson may not be enough to upgrade an Eagles offensive line that ranked last in sacks or tackles for loss allowed.

Key stat: Chip Kelly’s Oregon offense averaged a play every 20.9 seconds, which would have been easily the NFL’s most up-tempo offense (New England Patriots, 24.9 seconds per play). Oregon averaged 82.8 plays per game, well beyond New England’s NFL-most 74.4 per game.

Top stats to know: 2013 NFL Draft

April, 24, 2013

USA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesLuke Joeckel (left) or Eric Fisher (right) could be drafted first overall.
The first selections of the NFL Draft are just a day away. Here are our Top 10 overall stats to know on this year’s selections.

A lineman is likely No. 1
Luke Joeckel is primed to become just the fourth offensive lineman drafted first overall since the AFL and NFL held their first common draft in 1967. Each of the first three, Ron Yary in 1968, Orlando Pace in 1997 and Jake Long in 2008, made at least four Pro Bowl trips and were named 1st-team All-Pro a combined 10 times.

49ers will be a prominent factor, but will their draftees be prominent factors?
The San Francisco 49ers enter the draft with a league-high 13 picks and could become just the second team to make 13 or more picks in a draft in the last eight years, joining the 2010 Eagles. But the odds of any 49ers rookie making a major impact in 2013 are slim. The 49ers won the NFC last year despite getting only 12 games (and no starts) from their 2012 draft picks, both NFL lows.

Minimal skill position talent in top 10
The top of the 2013 draft class is expected to be heavy on linemen, with some draft experts projecting West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith as the only quarterback, running back or wide receiver to go in the top 10. The fewest offensive skill position players picked in the top 10 in the common draft era is one, done four times with the last in 1997. That year, it was all offensive linemen and defensive players before the Giants drafted WR Ike Hilliard seventh.

An Irish defender in the top 20
Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o could become the first Notre Dame defensive player to go in the top 20 since defensive tackle Bryant Young was drafted seventh in 1994. From 1995-2012, 59 different schools have had more defensive players drafted in the top 20 than Notre Dame, including New Mexico, Tennessee State and Division II Kutztown (Pa.).

Top-10 trades are frequent
Is your favorite team picking at the back of the draft? Don’t wait to tune in, as the rookie salary scale has made top picks tradable again. In the two drafts with the rookie scale (2011-12), teams have made six trades involving top-10 selections, including five on the day of the draft. There were four trades of top-10 selections in the previous six drafts combined (2005-10).

Raiders have missed out on some good ones
The Oakland Raiders are slated to pick third overall after not having a first-round pick in 2011 and 2012. But Oakland hasn’t had much success in the first round in recent years, drafting the likes of Rolando McClain, JaMarcus Russell, Fabian Washington and Robert Gallery, none of whom are currently with the team.

However, the players drafted with the pick AFTER McClain, Russell, Washington and Gallery have combined for 14 Pro Bowl selections. That would be C.J. Spiller, Calvin Johnson, Aaron Rodgers and Larry Fitzgerald.

The Raiders tend to like them fast
The Raiders have taken the player with the best 40-yard dash time in three of the last four drafts. From 2009-11, the Raiders selected Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Demarcus Van Dyke, all of whom were fastest in their combine class. Of those three, only Ford is still a Raider. Last year’s fastest player (cornerback Josh Robinson) was taken by the Vikings 29 picks before Oakland’s first selection. This year’s fastest player was Texas wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who ran a 4.27 40-yard dash at the combine.

NFC East teams could use help halting deep threats
All four NFC East teams were ranked in the bottom six in Total QBR on defending throws deeper than 15 yards downfield. Of the eight free agent secondary signings by NFC East teams so far, only Philadelphia’s Cary Williams (four) had more than two interceptions last year.

The NFC East has the NFL’s touchdown leader (Tony Romo, 14) and completion percentage leader (Robert Griffin III, 55.7 percent) on throws at least 15 yards downfield. Eli Manning also had 22 plays of at least 30 yards on those throws, tied for second most in the league.

The Cardinals have many needs
How bad was it in Arizona last season? Four different quarterbacks had at least 50 dropbacks for the Cardinals, the most of any team. The Cardinals were the only team in 2012 without a receiving touchdown by a tight end. The Cardinals’ offensive line allowed ball carriers to be hit in the backfield on a league-high 22.4 percent of rushes, and none of the four Arizona backs with at least 50 rushes gained more yards per rush after contact thanthe league average (1.6). The Cardinals added Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall this offseason.

Broncos could use Manning protection
The Broncos ranked 25th in the league with a 3.8 yards per rush average last season. Peyton Manning was sacked every 29.7 dropbacks last season, best among qualified quarterbacks, but four of the seven Broncos linemen with at least 250 snaps have had surgery since October and another (center Dan Koppen) is an unrestricted free agent. Only guard Louis Vasquez has been added so far in free agency to a Broncos’ line that could seek reinforcements at the draft.

D-II Washburn steals Super Bowl show

February, 1, 2013
A total of 106 players are on the active rosters of the Ravens and 49ers, and examining the alma maters of Super Bowl teams always produces interesting quirks. Here are three things to know…

Who’s number one?
Miami (FL) leads the way with five players on Super Bowl rosters, followed by Oregon, Ohio State, Texas, Marshall and Utah with four apiece. The Hurricanes shouldn’t be a surprising presence, as Miami was second among all schools with 37 players on NFL opening-day rosters.

The lone college with more players on opening-day squads was USC with 44, but the Trojans don’t have a single player in the Super Bowl for just the fifth time in 47 games.

Ichabod craze
The most unexpected find is Division II Washburn University, which features two players on Super Bowl rosters: Ravens starting cornerback Cary Williams and 49ers special-teams captain Michael Wilhoite, who played together for the Ichabods in 2006 and 2007. Located in Topeka, Kansas, Washburn sports an enrollment of 7,204 and has never had an alumnus play in the Super Bowl.

This season, Washburn has the same number of Super Bowl players as traditional powers LSU (1), Notre Dame (1), Oklahoma (0) and USC combined. The Ichabods also match the total of recent BCS champions Alabama, Auburn and Florida.

This marks the fifth time in the last 20 years that two players from the same non-Division I program played in the Super Bowl.

The most recent occurrence was 11 years ago, when South Dakota State was still Division II and featured alumni Adam Vinatieri (Patriots) and Adam Timmerman (Rams) in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Blue Hen group
Neither starting quarterback, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick or Delaware’s Joe Flacco, attended a college in one of the BCS AQ conferences, which isn’t as rare as you might think. It last happened four years ago when Northern Iowa’s Kurt Warner faced Ben Roethlisberger from Miami (OH).

Flacco will join Rich Gannon as the second Blue Hen quarterback to start a Super Bowl, while notable schools like USC, Texas and Ohio State still haven’t produced one.
Last week, the Baltimore Ravens drafted Alabama's Courtney Upshaw, hoping to line him up opposite Terrell Suggs as well as fill the void left by Jarret Johnson, who signed with the San Diego Chargers.

Terrell Suggs
If Upshaw starts, it's uncertain who will be his defensive counterpart now that Suggs is expected to miss the 2012 season with a torn Achilles tendon.

Suggs was the 2011 AP Defensive player of the year. He led the AFC with 14.0 sacks, a league-high seven forced fumbles and six passes defensed.

He's the only player over the last two seasons with at least five sacks, five forced fumbles and five passes defensed.

Suggs' 82.5 sacks are the most in franchise history, eighth among active players, and only six players have more sacks since Suggs' rookie season in 2003.

In 2010-11 combined, Suggs was fifth in the NFL with 18 tackles for loss, and in the last two postseasons, his five sacks were the most in the league.

Last season, the Ravens sent four or fewer pass rushers 63.6 percent of the time, which ranked 23rd in the NFL. Still, Suggs recorded 12 of his 14 sacks in that defensive formation, which was tied fourth in the NFL.

Suggs, who will turn 30 in October, has been durable throughout his nine-year career. He's played in 141 of a possible 144 regular-season games and has started all 16 regular-season games in four of the last five seasons.

In 2011, Suggs played in 95 percent of the Ravens' defensive snaps. Among Ravens who started all 16 games last season, only Ed Reed played in a higher percentage of snaps (99.6).