Writing LaAdrian Waddle in as Starter…In Sharpie 4

10:37 PM 28 Oct 2013

The Lions penciled LaAdrian Waddle in as the starter at RT after injuries devastated the OT spot so much they had to sign Barry Richardson.  Riley Reiff was limited by injury, Fox was again out (Though he played 1 snap), and Hilliard is ‘not long term but not day to day’ (Thanks Schwartz!).  I broke down every play by the young, Undrafted Free Agent out of Texas Tech, my third such tape study this year.  I studied him when he came out of TT and he was a very long term project.  Again after his reserve duty at LT and RT, and he was an able reserve with lots of upside.  The Cowboys game?  Holy cow was that a game for this guy.  My tape studies are very simple.  Unlike PFF or FO, I use a very baseline evaluation system that essentially comes down to wins (Green plays), losses (Red plays), and draws (Yellow plays).  The goal for any player is to have more Green plays than Red and Yellow combined.  So how did our UDFA do against the Cowboys?  Admittedly, he was playing against 2nd stringers most of the game.  George Selvie gets some hype this season, but he’s nothing special.  All the same, the level of dominance at times was stunning, and I’ll cover a few of them below.  For now, let’s look at the breakdown.
NOTE:  I promise some pictures of some of the plays I discuss, Replay was down while I wrote this so I’ll get it another time.  DESERVING of quick illustration.

The Split

First, let’s take a look at how his plays worked out in terms of balance.  In the Fox/Hilliard comparison, this was essential since it ultimately told a different picture when broken down, so here is his play break up (Excluding ST plays):

Run 28 35.9%
Pass 50 64.1%
Total Plays 78  


  Snaps  %
Green Plays 54 69.2%
Yellow Plays 14 17.9%
Red Plays 10 12.8%
Total Plays 78  

No real surprises there.  The Lions were down playing catch up for much of the game.  In fact, on the Lions final three drives, they only rushed three times (Including Stafford’s fake spike).  Next, let’s look at how he played within each facet of the game.

The Run

This was an area I didn’t really expect Waddle to excel.  Compared to his pass blocking, it was technically the weaker of the two areas.  On his first five runs, he graded out with two Green plays, two Red plays, and a Yellow.  So not an excellent start.  He would have another stretch later in the game where he was lucky the play didn’t go towards him or it would have been a TFL.  There seems to be a level of effort he doesn’t want to give on plays that aren’t going his way.  On plays that ARE going his way?  Oh boy.  On rushing plays that were designed to got off tackle, or at least to his side, he graded out negatively only once.  When asked to seal, rather than push, he had NO Red plays and only one Yellow play, and even then it was only because he got away with a hold.  That isn’t to say he couldn’t get push in the run game, more often than not he did just that.

Runs Snaps  %
Green Plays 18 64.3%
Yellow Plays 3 10.7%
Red Plays 7 25.0%
Total Plays 28  

UnblockedWhere I would have liked to see more of an impact was on the Lions’ goal line plays.  On those plays, he didn’t seem to get much push.  He did his job, but one of his Green plays for the goal line was as much luck that he fell over a guy as it was getting any kind of a push.  It’s not a liability by any means, but his ability to seal and create space that way is a perfect compliment to Larry Warford, who is more of a ‘move the pile’ kind of blocker.  So what was Waddle’s best run block?  Well, there were two.  the first was on the…well…whatever you want to call that play.  It looked like an attempt at a fake reverse, it got completely blown up, and Reggie Bush was tackled for a big loss.  It was technically a pass for negative yardage, but the play itself is an extension of the run game.  Why am I talking about that as a positive?  Let’s look at Waddle on that play.  Waddle attacked his man at the line and knocked him backwards.  He then quickly adjusted and broke upfield, barreling towards the next unfortunate defender he could find.  The play was blown up, but if it hadn’t been there would have been a lot of running room and at least two defenders completely neutralized.  Later, and I LOVED this play, Waddle was manned up on the right side on an inside off tackle run by Joique Bell.  He stood up his man and kept him in place, sealing the lane.  The lane quickly closed from the other side as the Cowboys filled the hole and Bell ran into Waddle’s back, but Waddle took on ANOTHER defender who tried to crash in and take Bell out.  Without budging, Waddle kept both men in check while Bell bounced it back the other way for a big gain.  The kind of power to do that WITHOUT drawing a hold is amazing.

UnblockedThe Pass

This was the bread and butter for Waddle, as it was for all the Lions on the regular.  Sadly, some of his worst plays also came on the passing game.  Coming from an unorthodox offense at Texas Tech, Waddle was unfamiliar with a basic part of being a OT in the NFL, kick-sliding.  I was paying close attention to his footwork, and I can tell you this is an area that he did better than I expected…but needs a LOT of work.  Waddle’s biggest issue, however, wasn’t his kick-slide.  No, his biggest issue was getting beaten off the snap.  It didn’t happen often, but when Waddle was beaten he rarely recovered in time.  This led to one of the worst plays of the game when he was blown off the line and plowed backwards forcing Stafford to ground the ball, drawing a penalty.  So how did he fare overall?

Passes Snaps  %
Green Plays 36 72.0%
Yellow Plays 11 22.0%
Red Plays 3 6.0%
Total Plays 50  

That aforementioned poor passing play?  That came on his 36th offensive snap.  His 23rd pass block.  Out of the preceding 22 pass blocks, he graded in the green 17 times.  That level of efficiency is crazy.  His other two Red plays came later in the game, when he completely failed on his block allowing outside pressure that Stafford was just able to scramble away from.  On the only sack of the game, the Cowboys lined up heavy on Waddle’s side and brought the heat from there.  Waddle got beaten off the snap and driven backwards into Stafford.  If the defender hadn’t quickly swung around Waddle, the RT would have been driven all the way into his QB.  Those plays, as bad as they were, were the exception, not the rule.  The Lions run a very complicated Man scheme for their blockers, but they sprinkled in some zone blocking against the Cowboys and Waddle didn’t flinch.  One play that was very underrated was a pass where Waddle was blocking in zone and didn’t have anyone to block.  His only job at that point became holding that spot and NOT trying to go upfield, which would draw a penalty.  He did that, so that’s a win.  Another play that showed great awareness also came as a zone blocker where Waddle was again left without anyone to block.  He stayed in his zone and sat on that spot.  Stafford would scramble to that side and throw a long pass that was completed, keeping the drive going.  What’s important is just before that throw, a defender tried to shoot past Waddle, but the RT stayed in his zone like he was supposed to, so he was there to hold him off just long enough for the throw.  If Waddle had gotten impatient, I don’t think that throw gets past the line.  Not content to block two players only in the run game, on the Lions last pass to Calvin Johnson, Waddle again sat in zone but this time took out two defenders all by his lonesome, keeping the pocket intact.

What does it all mean!?!

We’re again looking at a small sample size, but if this game is any indication the Lions could be looking at 3 complete

parts of their offensive line in Reiff, Warford, and Waddle.  Not to say Sims and Raiola played poorly, quite the contrary, but these three players have a very small amount of starts between them and with time on their contracts they are likely pieces moving forward.  Initially, I had thought Waddle would make a much better LT than RT and his play against the Bengals reinforced that idea.  After seeing him completely obliterate Cowboys defenders this week, I’m perfectly content with leaving him where he can do the most damage.  Just think, Lions fans, the team might actually be able to run the ball off the right side for a change!


Pettigrew is in front of the screen.
Waddle makes an initial block on the line. The ball hasn’t left yet, so he can’t go upfield.
Notice the LBs in the middle of the field are watching Pettigrew, they see the play as a fake and didn’t bite inside.


A Missed Block kills the play.
Reggie would have had one man to beat.
That space in the corner is wide open field. Even though the LBs didn’t bite on the fake play, if Pettigrew made his block and Reggie forced a missed tackle, Waddle had ONE man to block in the open field.


1st Drive
Play 1 p Line collapses to the left, Warford gets beat off the snap, but that initial push was it.
Play 2 p Blows his man off the line, run blocks him on a passing down.  Zero pressure, effortless.
Play 3 p Kickslide was a little sloppy, but shadowed his man easily.  Plenty of time to throw. 
2nd Drive
Play 4 r Missed his man on the outside, but the run went up the middle.  Had it been to his side, would have been bad.
Play 5 r Sealed at the line, allowed zero push  in the run game.
Play 6 p Pushed his man off the line, played it like a run on PA.  Defender got separation, but much too late.  
Play 7 r Missed his man on the inside, Bush went opposite so no loss.
Play 8 p Kickslide out, his guy got no push at all.
3rd Drive
Play 9 r Kept his guy from pushing, but didn’t get any push back either.
Play 10 p Shadowed his guy easily, kept him from getting inside, defender gave up early.
Play 11 r PLOWED over his man, Bush was late out of the backfield. 
Play 12 r Plowed through the line again, run went for little due to playcall.
Play 13 p Kicked out, kept his guy away.  Pressure from the other side caused hurry.
Play 14 p Knocked back off the line, pass was too quick to tell if he would have held.
4th Drive
Play 15 r Blew his man off the line taking him well out of the play.
Play 16 p Shadowed his man, let him off a little early even if it was a screen.
Play 17 p Zone blocking, had nobody to block but stayed home. 
5th Drive
Play 18 p Kept his man off the line, no problem.
Play 19 r Knocked his  man off the line, play went the other way but could have easily ran behind his side.  
Play 20 r Blasted his guy off the line.  Punch is crazy when he gets it off in time.  Blown block by TE killed the play.
Play 21 r Played it like a pass, kept his guy rushing the QB even after the ball was handed off.
Play 22 p Kept his man off the line, no issues here.  Plenty of time.
6th Drive
Play 23 r No push off the line, got beat off the snap. 
Play 24 p Got beat on his kickslide, almost held, pass got out quick enough.
Play 25 p Dropped his guy in the middle.  Helped him fall.
Play 26 p Held at the line, quick pass.
Play 27 p Kicked out, his defender never stood a chance.
Play 28 r Knocked his man off the line, completely sealed that side with Warford.
Play 29 r Zone block, sealed the inside on a run that went off his side.  Penalty negated play.
Play 30 p The play was TERRIBLE, but Waddle knocked one guy off the line, got to the second level and continued blocking.  If Bush had broke away, he’d have a clear lane.
Play 31 p Got beat on the inside, but held on just long enough.
Play 32 p Kicked out and kept his guy well outside the play.  
7th Drive
Play 33 p Held his man off very well, no pressure
Play 34 p Got pushed back off the line.  Held long enough, but wouldn’t have lasted much longer.
Play 35 p Zone blocking, stayed in his zone and caught the first guy that came in late.  
Play 36 p Beat badly on the outside, caused the pressure that led to grounding.
8th Drive
Play 37 r Sealed the inside, allowed the bounce back off his side, never let his man get away.
Play 38 p Took out not one, but two defenders on the rush.  Both Stunting.  Wow.
Play 39 r Beat his man off the line, kept pushing.  Play went inside, but could have been bounced.
Play 40 p Kicked out and held his man off just long enough, but wouldn’t have held much longer, off balance.
Play 41 r Sealed the outside, gave Bush plenty of time to bounce the other way.  
9th Drive
Play 42 p Held his man off very well on the screen.  
Play 43 r Sealed the outside, Bush was able to cut back.  
Play 44 p Zone blocking, sealed the inside on the PA, play took too long, kept his man off the whole time.
Play 45 r Sealed, but got away with a hold.
Play 46 p Kicked out and kept his man well out of the box.  
10th Drive
Play 47 p Held his man off, quick pass.
Play 48 r Lost his man at first, recovered in time but lucky it went the other way.
Play 49 p Kicked out well, his guy never stood a chance.
Play 50 r No real push here, play got siphoned inside.
Play 51 p Got beat outside, but recovered just in time for Stafford to step up.
Play 52 p Held his man off, allowed no pressure whatsoever.  Long time to throw.
Play 53 r Pitch the other way, lucky because he got blown up by his guy.
Play 54 p Beat his man outside, but gave him a bit too much room.  Still allowed a ridiculous amount of time.
Play 55 p Kept his man out of the pocket, but only just.  Would have had to hold to keep him much longer.
11th Drive
Play 56 r Sealed the outside, never gave his guy a shot.
Play 57 p Kickslide was sloppy, but defender never got leverage.  No pressure at all.
Play 58 p Zone blocking.  Held his spot, good enough awareness to follow the inside rusher.
Play 59 r Nobody to block, REALLY slow to get to the second level.  
Play 60 p Sloppy kickslide, but shadowed his guy very well, allowed nothing.
Play 61 r Blocked not one, but TWO defenders on this run play.  Just wow.  Play almost blew up, Bell ran into him and then had plenty of time to bounce the other way.
Play 62 p Sloppy kickslide again, but his guy was trying to make a move and he didn’t fall for it.
Play 63 r Helped clear the hole for the TD.
12th Drive
Play 64 p Zone blocking, never left his assignment, rusher came in at the last second and had he LEFT his assignment, would have blown up the play. Awareness.
Play 65 r Sealed the inside, Bush ran right behind him for 5 yards.
Play 66 p Kicked out, defender tried to spin, but didn’t fall for it or hold.
Play 67 p Good blocking initially, long play, gave up on his guy right at the end. 
Play 68 p Gave up pressure on the outside, forcing a scramble.
Play 69 r Got just enough push, but could have plowed a hole.
13th Drive
Play 70 p HEAVY rush from his side, got pushed back into the QB, defender slid around for the sack.
Play 71 p Looked like a zone, blocked the wrong guy, lucky it was a quick pass.
Play 72 p Another zone, again blocking inside.  
Play 73 p Sealed the outside, adjusted well when play moved.
14th Drive
Play 74 p Manned up, didn’t budge when defender tried spinning on him.
Play 75 p Heavy rush from his side, Didn’t allow much pressure, opened the hole Stafford scrambled through for the pass.
Play 76 p Initially beat inside, steered his man well out of the way, great recovery.
Play 77 p Again blocked not one, but two guys in zone.
Play 78 r Did what you normally do on a spike.

4 thoughts on “Writing LaAdrian Waddle in as Starter…In Sharpie

  1. Derek Mack Reply dmac93065 Oct 28, 2013 11:11 PM

    What an excellent job of analysis! Thank you Kent. From a basic fan’s ‘eye test’ you can think a player is doing well, but the excitement of the game combines with the angles from broadcast feed to give a very incomplete picture of what’s really happening. That’s why your work is important. This is a very small sample size, (as you’ve noted) but if this guy can maintain the level of play for the rest of the season, it bodes well for the Lions as the remaining schedule is a bit forgiving.

    I remember saying in preseason if Waddle ever cracks the lineup they’re going to have a hard time returning him to the bench. I’m no scout but Tackle is one of the easiest positions to translate from college to pros assuming players get good coaching. Schwartz & Co might not know much about coaching up DBs or WRs but they can get linemen (offensive & defensive) up to speed in a hurry. Waddle is in the perfect environment to develop as a player. Increasingly, this draft and the corresponding undrafted rookie free agents have added a great deal of talent to this roster. If this team makes a playoff run and actually posts a victory, this offseason could very well become the single most important one for the franchise, at least in the post-Barry era.

  2. Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Reply Dave Brown, TSB Senior Writer Oct 28, 2013 11:15 PM

    The Green drives it home. A Green Sharpie? I think so.
    Here’s the deal, Waddle may or may not be the tackle of the future on the right side, but with the usage of Tables and color, you are now a Jedi Master.

    I have used those tools in my work for some time. In my case, those tools help enhance average writing. In your case, the writing has been at a high level for some time.

    Again, the green drives home the concept of the article beautifully.

    Excellent work.

  3. Kent Lee Platte, TSB Senior Writer Reply Kent Lee Platte, TSB Senior Writer Oct 28, 2013 11:47 PM

    Helps that I have a mostly functioning spreadsheet for doing these. Lets me get the numbers and stuff out quickly. When I get Access (I got derailed by the whole lack of compy thing, getting it soon), I can make it interactive again and bust out a ton of reports for this kind of stuff. ABSOLUTELY essential to learn MS programs when studying players on film, saves so much time and effort.

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