Our OLine was the second most criticised thing on this team behind the play of Jimmy Clausen, citing that they were not giving him time and that we were not as dominant as prior years as the main issues.
I thought it would be best to actually see if this was the case, or if we were making a bigger issue out of nothing.
Statistics provided by the premium section of the Pro Football focus team. I personally trust them and have found their stats to be in line with every other statistical analysis team. They review every single play and explain how they record data, which other places do not. This takes a lot of the objectivity out of their analysis, allowing people to formulate their own opinions from the given data. Whilst their statistics might not be 100% accurate, they will be as close as you can get without knowing individual assignments. Their work in the trenches is especially good in my opinion.
Coming into this season our offensive line was touted as one of the premier lines in both facets of the game, being absolutely dominant in the running game yet more than capable to handle the pass rush for our passing game philosophy. What we actually saw, was something so alien to us that we have not had these kind of offensive woes for several years.
Question 1 - Where did our dominant OLine go?!
When you actually look at the progression of our line through the season, it is clear the one that played this year was a far cry from what we have been used to for the last 2-3 years.
We lose Vincent and Otah seemingly is ready to get back into action week after week, yet never actually does. The result? Our two primary backups were sitting on the right side of the line, with Mackenzy Bernadeau at guard and Geoff Schwartz at tackle. The result of this was a seriously inexperienced OLine, something which is completely alien to what we are used to.
Starting Day OLine
Gross - 104 starts in 7 seasons
Wharton - 74 starts in 6 seasons
Kalil - 31 starts in 3 seasons
Bernadeau - 7 starts in 2 seasons
Schwartz - 3 starts in 1 season
So we lost Vincent and his 79 starts in 9 seasons and Otah who had 25 starts in 2 seasons, giving our starting OLine an average of 3.8 seasons in the league, with 43.8 games started. However our C, RG & RT had an average of just 2 seasons and 13.6 games started.
Mid-Season OLine (after our 9th game/week 10)
Gross - 113 starts in 7.5 seasons
Bernadeau - 13 starts in 2.5 seasons
Kalil - 40 starts in 3.5 seasons
Schwartz - 12 starts in 1.5 seasons
Williams - 3 starts in 1.5 seasons
Suddenly we see that our average experience drops from 3.8years in the NFL drops to 3.5 years. However our LG, C, RG & RT averaged just 2.25 years in the NFL. Considering most draftees are not to be judged until they complete their third year in the league, we were setting ourselves up for failure by having 3 inside that starting on our line.
Question 2 - Our Pass Blocking
If you look at the stats you see that Jimmy was sacked 33 times, Moore 13 times, St. Pierre 3 times and Pike once. That is over 3 sacks a game and tied for the 2nd most sacks given up over the regular season amongst all NFL teams.
However consider these credited stats
Gross 1016 snaps - 6 sacks, 8 hits, 15 pressures
Kalil 1016 snaps - 5 sacks, 1 hit, 9 pressures
Schwartz 1016 snaps - 4 sacks, 6 hits, 13 pressures
Bernadeau 771 snaps - 5 sacks, 4 hits, 14 pressures
Williams 710 snaps - 4 sacks, 3 hits, 24 pressures
Wharton 555 snaps - 1 sack, 3 hits, 5 pressures
Our OLine was credited with giving up just 50% of our seasons sacks (on top of pretty low pressure numbers), begging the question of where did the other sacks come from:
11 - Unblockable (free blitzers, overloads causing it impossible for our blockers to pick up everyone)
9 - RB & FBs
4 - QBs
1 - TEs
So what appears to be the case, is that our blitz pick up and protection sliding is what gets exposed rather than our 'abilities' across the OLine. Considering we had a rookie at QB for the majority of the season and just saw that our OLine this year was, on average, just out it's second year this was bound to be the problem.
So it's likely that our QBs need to take responsibility for around 25% of the sacks due to not being able to shift and adjust pre-snap to deal with exotic blitzes, delayed blitzes or overloads. That is if they even recognised it in the first place...
Our OLine actually blocked pretty well down the stretch for Jimmy and they were not the reason the sacks kept racking up. Give this unit time to gel and get a bit of quality depth behind them and we should be set for the foreseeable future.
The ONLY thing we are lacking is experience, which if we try to keep the unit mainly intact, then we should see progress from here on. We just need the QB to be able to progress at the same time, allowing the opposing defences schemes to be countered with good pre-snap reads.
Edited by Urrymonster, 09 January 2011 - 11:31 AM.