As we get to No. 18 on my top 25 New Orleans Saints' players I look at Zach Strief, who played admirably in 2011 before seeing a substantial decline in performance in 2012. After a breakout year in 2011 in which Strief was named Pro Football Focus's Secret Superstar for the Saints', persistent injuries plagued what should have been another solid year for the right tackle. I have a feeling, though, that Sean Payton's absence had a major impact on the offensive Tackle play for the Saints. Strief was hit with the injury bug, but Jermon Bushrod, too, had a mediocre-at-best 2012 after a great season in 2011. The table below illustrates Strief's drop off in production:
Strief's 2011 VS 2012
|Pass Block Grade
|Run Block Grade
(Stats acquired from Pro Football Focus's signature statistics. Rankings are for both left and right tackles that played at least 50% of the team's offensive snaps.)
Even if you don't agree with PFF's grading system, Strief allowed a pressure on 6.55% of Drew Brees's drop backs in 2012 VS just 5.53% of drop backs in 2011. May not seem like a big difference, but every time you put your QB at risk it's a bad situation.
It's tough to say which Strief we will see in 2013 as he has seen his fair share of ups and downs over the past two seasons. As previously stated, I believe Payton's return will have nothing but a positive impact on the offense as a whole, Strief included. It will be interesting to see, though, if rookie Terron Armstead exceeds expectations and Charles Brown remains healthy, there could very well be a completely open competition at both tackle positions.