DeMarco Murray and Johnathan Cyprien both had career resurgences in 2016 according to Pro Football Focus’ standards.
Everyone’s favorite (okay, not everyone) secondary football rating measuring tool, Pro Football Focus, has come out with a “most improved” list for both offense and defense. They’ve singled out players that had really good 2016 seasons and improved their play dramatically from the previous year. Two Tennessee Titans players, DeMarco Murray and Johnathan Cyprien, made the lists.
Here’s what they had to say about Murray:
"2015 season grade: 51.92016 season grade: 77.7Moving from Chip Kelly’s inside zone to Mike Mularkey’s “exotic smashmouth” proved to be an absolute game-changer for DeMarco Murray. From Dallas to Philadelphia to Tennessee, the running back hasn’t been a stranger to changes in scenery. Not only did Murray run the ball more aggressively, but his pass blocking improved, as well. He allowed just four QB pressures across 115 pass-blocking snaps. Running behind one of the league’s best O-lines with an emerging quarterback will continue to help Murray, and he may find even more success next season if the Titans can add some playmaking wide receivers."
Murray was fantastic in his first year in Tennessee. Acquired for just a fourth-rounder, the Murray of Philadelphia reverted back to the Murray in Dallas behind a stellar offensive line in a traditional offense. Murray routinely bursted through holes, shrugged off would-be tacklers, and caught everything thrown his way. A toe injury limited his effectiveness over the second half of the season, but Murray should be back fully healthy and better than ever once next season starts.
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Here’s what they said about Cyprien:
"2015 season grade: 50.72016 season grade: 87.8Cyprien took his game to a whole new level this past season, finishing as our seventh-ranked safety overall, top-ranked against the run (98.8). During his three seasons prior to 2016, Cyprien failed to finish higher than 52nd and 34th in these categories, respectively. What clicked? In 2016, he was used like a chess piece, playing 11 percent of his snaps as an edge rusher, 38 percent as a linebacker, 27 as a cornerback, and 24 as a safety. In contrast, Cyprien was used less creatively in 2015 – playing more than half his snaps (55 percent) at safety. The Titans got themselves a versatile playmaker, who flashed big-time against the run (27 run stops ranked T-first among safeties) in 2016."
While many Titans fans were clamoring for Eric Berry to hit the open market and return to Tennessee, that was always going to be a pipe dream. Berry re-signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Titans turned their attention to Cyprien, who had a better season in 2016 than Berry did (according to PFF). Something they wrote in his blurb sticks out to me: “he was used like a chess piece”. If the Jacksonville Jaguars used him like that, imagine the versatility he’ll bring under the watchful eye of Dick LeBeau. He’s already proven to be a great run-stopper, so it’ll be very interesting to see if LeBeau can fix some of his coverage woes and turn him into a truly complete safety.