Welcome back to this weekly column on the National Football League, a cocktail of light-hearted musings, analysis – and of course gambling.
The commentary from the Australian media about former NRL star Valentine Holmes’ NFL debut has blown his efforts out of proportion.
His debut was labeled ‘impressive’ and ‘solid’, but in truth his on-field output left a lot to be desired.
Not to take anything away from Holmes; even participating in an NFL preseason game is a feat in and of itself, but if we’re to look at his play from a purely gridiron perspective – it was pretty average.
Holmes entered the game in the fourth quarter, playing with the Jets’ fourth string offense, and against the Giants fourth string defence (for context the majority of these players will not make it to the 53 man roster for either teams).
He ran the ball three times for six yards, with an average of two yards per carry, the lowest average for any of the Jets’ running backs.
It was obvious that his running style was too upright, and it looked like he lacked the explosive power and acceleration that many of the league\’s best running backs have.
He also wasn’t able to lower his pads and fight through the Giant’s defensive front at the line of scrimmage, getting caught behind the line for a loss of yards on his second run.
He proved better in the passing game with three receptions for 30 yards. Again, preseason NFL is in no way representative of regular season football. The space he was allowed would have been closed down immensely quicker in a real game.
His most impressive play, a 14 yard catch and run, ended in Holmes being crunched in the open field by Giants defensive back Kenny Ladler (a player who has failed to cement his place on a roster since arriving in the league in 2014). Holmes looked as if he didn’t anticipate Ladler’s speed and instead of lowering his pads and bracing for contact he left himself – and the ball – in a vulnerable position. A big no-no in the NFL.
So although Holmes was able to hold his own against a bunch of mid-tier to below average players, any conclusions that he can be an effective NFL player will need to be subverted until he is tested against a better quality opposition.