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Cap Numbers (Why Cap Capi belongs on the 53)

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I can’t recall ever being so upset by a roster cut as I was last year when the Cardinals cut DE/OLB Cap Capi. I thought that Capi had done everything humanly possible to make the Cardinals’ 53 man roster.

Plus, besides Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, what other edge rushers did the Cardinals have on the roster? Kareem Martin’s forte was run stuffing.

I went back and pulled out a number of my comments from a few of the posts last year. Here are some of them:

  • Following the Game 3 pre-season win over the Falcons:

“Capi built upon his already outstanding preseason thus far Saturday night. Capi was again great pressuring the quarterback totaling six pressures (two sacks, two hits and two hurries) for an 88.6 pass rushing grade. He was also solid in run defense totaling an 80.7 run defense grade. Through four preseason games Capi has totaled 15 pressures and has been the Cardinals’ best pass-rusher.”

A Tip of the Cap

“Watching the tape a second time was a real treat when it came to studying OLB Cap Capi. Cap put on a 34 OLB clinic out there in every facet of OLB play.

First of all, not only did he and Kareem Martin set a very hard edge on their sides, when the Falcons ran to Cap’s side, not only did he force the run inside, which is his primary job, he also made the tackles or assisted in the tackles. One of those hard tackles on the Falcons’ big RB Brian Hill, forced Hill out of the game.

Secondly and this is what was so exceptionally impressive with the Falcons marching toward the end zone, they called a “submarine boot” which is a very popular misdirection pass in the NFL today, where the o-line pretends to run a zone running play to one side, but the QB bootlegs while the play-side TE sneaks across the formation into the weak side flat. If you watch Cap on the play, he immediately stayed home, which is his job, then he picked up the TE and took away the pass option which caused the QB to throw the ball away. This is EXACTLY the kind of role discipline the Cardinals’ defense needs more of. It would have been an easy wide-open TD had Cap not stayed at home.

Thirdly, Cap’s “dip and rip” move in his pass rush was textbook. He looked a lot like Markus Golden who dipped and ripped his way to the strip sack earlier in the game. Cap’s pressure was relentless. He was teeing off every pass play. Two sacks and a handful of other pressures. Plus, he’s got a bull rush aspect and a spin move to his game…he’s not just a one trick pony.”

  • What PFF had to say after Capi was cut:

Key Stat: Played 199 snaps, 20 more than any other edge rusher in the preseason.

Another of the preseason MVPs, it’s difficult to envision what more Cap Capi could have done in preseason to earn a roster spot with the Cardinals. His overall PFF grade of 84.8 was fourth among all edge-rushers and he played 20 more snaps than any other player at that position, generating two sacks, five hits, 11 hurries and ten defensive stops over his 199 snaps. Capi had QB pressures in all five of his preseason games. He was signed to the New York Giants practice squad.

Cardinals in 2017 Without Capi:

  • After Markus Golden was lost for the season (having posted 0 sacks in 4 games), guess how many sacks the Cardinals’ edge rushers (not named Chandler Jones) made? The answer is 1, by Kareem Martin. In total, the Cardinals got 1 sack from the LDE rusher all season long.

Compelling Numbers for Capi:

  • Per a recent article by Pro Football Focus titled ‘it’s Time to Give Cap Capi a Regular-Season Shot in the NFL,” this is part of what they had to say:

At 6-foot-3 and 249 pounds, Capi has the prototypical size of an edge rusher (for comparison, Von Miller is listed at a nearly identical 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds). Since entering the league in 2015 as an undrafted free agent out of Akron, Capi’s remarkable preseason production has gone largely overlooked.

In preseason games from 2015 through Week 2 of 2018, Capi’s 46 total quarterback pressures are tops in the NFL and six more than any other edge defender. Capi had 18 total pressures in the 2017 preseason alone, the most any edge defender has recorded in a preseason since PFF began collecting preseason data in 2013.

Capi’s 2017 preseason production was not just a product of an inflated snap count. He recorded an 89.4 overall PFF grade for the 2017 preseason, ranking 11th among all edge defenders. The names sprinkled just above and below Capi include: Cameron Jordan, Melvin Ingram and Myles Garrett.

The Buffalo Bills gave Capi his first regular season playing time late last season, promoting him to the active roster from Week 14 through the remainder of the season. In his five-game stint on the active roster, Capi functioned primarily as a rotational pass-rusher, topping out at 18 pass-rushes in Week 15 versus the Miami Dolphins. Naturally, Week 15 was Capi’s best regular season game as he recorded an 84.7 weekly overall PFF defensive grade, tied for 11th among all edge defenders. He fared even better as a pass-rusher, ranking sixth among all edge defenders with an 87.6 PFF weekly pass-rushing grade. Evidently, Capi did not show enough for the Bills to retain his services and he was released in April.

Capi is currently in training camp with the Arizona Cardinals and has picked up right where he left off last season. In the Cardinals’ first preseason game versus the Chargers, Capi had a whopping three sacks and four total pressures. Capi currently ranks tied for 25th with a solid 78.7 pass-rushing grade this preseason.

Pass-rushers are at a premium in the today’s NFL and it is a bit puzzling that perhaps the league’s most prolific preseason pass-rusher over the last three seasons has yet to break camp on an active roster. The Cardinals had PFF’s 16th-ranked pass-rush last season and the 20th-ranked pass-rush unit in our preseason rankings, showing that they could undoubtedly benefit from having Capi spell Chandler Jones and Markus Golden for at least a few snaps per game.

It is time to give Capi the opportunity to show he belongs in the NFL IN the regular season.

Where Things Now Stand Roster-Wise:

  • At DE, Chandler Jones and Benson Mayowa figure to be the starters in week 1. At some point this season the Cardinals will welcome Markus Golden back. But, for now, he remains on the PUP list and does not count as a roster spot.
  • That leaves 2-3 DE depth spots open. Vontarrius Dora is proving to be an athletic disruptor, although he has yet to record a sack. Jacquies Smith recorded a strip sack last week versus the Saints and looks to be a keeper.
  • The question is—-can and should Cap Capi beat out Dora and/or Arthur Moats (former Steeler who thus far is making a mark on STs, but has not shown much as an edge rusher)?
  • What I would argue is that beside Chandler Jones, Cap Capi still may be the most productive edge rusher on the roster. The only one close to Capi is Jacquies Smith. Some pundits and roster predictors are arguing that Capi won’t make it because he’s not very stout versus the run—-but—-that’s not only a flimsy excuse, it is moot. Capi’s greatest value is as a situational edge rusher—-and for a defense that wants to play a hefty amount of zone coverage, QB pressure has to be a top priority.
  • With the lack of depth the Cardinals’ have at linebacker, I believe that Vontarrius Dora is plenty athletic enough to be the backup SAM LB behind Haason Reddick. Thus, the Cardinals could keep Dora as a combo LB/DE and also keep Cap Capi and Marquis Smith as rotational rushers.
  • Back in early May, I tweeted Cap Capi to request and interview for an article I wanted to write about him. Here was his ever so humble response, my reaction and my hope:

“Hope is a good thing, Red, maybe the best of things, for no good thing ever dies.” (from Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King)

Cap Capi is back with the Cardinals this time for good...I hope....