The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just signed J.R. Sweezy to a five-year deal to come play left guard. The Seattle Seahawks wanted him back, but the Bucs outbid them. That's curious, because Pro Football Focus really doesn't like Sweezy. In fact, they seem to think he's garbage: he was their 66th-ranked guard last year, and has never been evaluated positively by the outfit.
PFF wasn't content to just show their opinion, though. They put on a full-court press to make sure everyone got just how much they hate Sweezy's play.
JR Sweezy— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) March 9, 2016
Makes some great blocks, but.... pic.twitter.com/RQKUY9AXiQ
JR Sweezy "playing through the whistle," costing the team 15 yards https://t.co/7ErWTHre85— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) March 9, 2016
The first block is what people love about Sweezy, but too many whiffs like the second block https://t.co/F3EgUizJrZ— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) March 9, 2016
The Bucs went from Logan Mankins to JR Sweezy? Oh my. Poor Tampa.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 9, 2016
Josh Sitton gave up 12 total pressures this season. JR Sweezy averages 35.7 per season starting.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 9, 2016
I'm curious how much bad tape you actually need to look past to think JR Sweezy is great cos of the few crushing blocks he can make.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) March 9, 2016
Now, there's a kernel of truth there. Sweezy's play in Seattle wasn't perfect.. Over at Field Gulls, Danny Kelly was largely positive but not exactly universally so, and most accounts suggest he's a far better run-blocker than pass-blocker.
But Pro Football Focus isn't infallible by any means. While their system works best for linemen, it still misses both context and opponent quality. Sweezy has played his entire career on unsettled offensive lines, protecting a quarterback who holds on to the ball far too long and likes to scramble a little too much -- things that make guards' jobs a lot more difficult. Which is how you get things like this:
New Bucs OT Anthony Collins last year allowed 12 hurries on 317 pass blocks. Best pass blocking efficiency of any tackle.— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 13, 2014
PFF isn't the be-all end-all of NFL evaluation, just one tool in a larger toolbox -- like traditional statistics, advanced statistics, simply watching tape, and listening to NFL insiders. They make mistakes, and their system isn't all-knowable. They're not useless, just imperfect and insufficient. That's okay!
But then they go out and full-on attack a player, and it just feels malicious -- or at least like a whole lot of hubris.
We'll see who's right this year. Because it sure seems like Sweezy's going to be starting.