Keith Goldner is active this season both on Advanced NFL Stats and his own blog, Drive By Football. As he has updated his Markov Chain model (see also here), I’d suggest finding Keith’s new articles on either of these two sites. In my opinion, Keith’s work on his expected points models is a must read for anyone who wants to learn analytics, because he’s perhaps the best at making sure that readers can understand how he sets his models up.
I never found that Bear, but at 5:18 in the second quarter – one of the more interesting drives in the game, from the standpoint of a defensive front junkie – we see this:
Though this is formally a nickel front, and there really isn’t a 3-0-3 diamond here, there are a couple things of note. There are six players across the line. Bruce Carter is in the gap between the RDE and the R (rush linebacker), just inside the tight end. Sean Lee is at the 50 behind Bruce (a few yards in front of the left offensive tackle), and another player is in the other 50, a few yards in front of the right offensive tackle. The “lineman” in the two point stace, to the left of the nose guard in this view, isn’t playing a 5 technique as much as he is playing a 3, and the whole front looks as if Rob Ryan is guessing a run to the left side of the line.
That’s exactly what happened. The Giants ran left. Bruce Carter defeated his block and the run gained almost nothing. And it’s almost pure stubbornness to run a running back into the heart of this kind of formation.
Otherwise, I saw plenty of 2 and 3 man fronts, and at one point, perhaps a 4 man front.
Update: for more Rob Ryan fronts, this thread has screen shots of the first 10 Ryan fronts of the season.