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Let's talk Offensive Line


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#1 ragnarok725

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 12:45 PM

The biggest story in the preseason was the struggles of the Pats' offensive line, the possibility they had taken a very significant step backwards, and what that may mean for the offense. Four games in now, it's starting to look like those concerns were significantly overblown. They've had 3 really solid performances, and one dud against the underrated Cardinals (where Dockett and Campbell ate their lunch).

Mostly I'm starting this thread to generate some awareness about the superb articles that Ben Muth has going on Football Outsiders. He picks a few teams each year to follow and go into deep depth on OL play. Luckily for us, this year he's chosen the Pats (as well as the 49ers and Chiefs). He's got 2 articles up already - one on the loss to the Cardinals, and one on beatdown of the Bills' nickel defense. Links and some quotes below.

Arizona game: http://www.footballo...ards-wont-budge

The biggest problem by far for New England’s running game was their inability to knock anyone off the ball. It isn’t that they gave up a lot of penetration, because, with the exception of a couple memorable third-down failures, they didn’t. It’s just that they weren’t moving any defenders off their spots.


Mankins certainly didn’t look like the perennial Pro Bowler of years past, but it is likely he's simply still rounding into form as he returns from ACL surgery. Still, his poor drive blocking is still cause for concern.
Back to Thomas. I’m not saying he played well; it’s just that he didn’t play as bad as I thought he did initially. He got a little more movement than Mankins in the running game, but I wouldn’t call him a standout. I did think he held his own in the passing game. He gave up some leakage here and there, but only gave up one hit -- it just happened to lead to a sack.

I will say this about Solder: he certainly looks the part. He’s big and rangy, and moves very well. He has a natural-looking pass set and a willingness to use his hands. I say "willingness" because he isn’t a great puncher yet (he mistimes his initial punch too much), but he throws them with conviction and is pretty good at replacing them when they are knocked down. There are a lot of guys who either try to clamp onto guys or just lay their hands out there and hope someone runs into them. Solder actually punches.

The biggest knock on him coming out of Colorado (and in his rookie season) was that he was a bit of waist bender. I didn’t see any of that really. He didn’t play too high, and he did a nice job of sinking his hips to lower his pad level, particularly for a guy his size.

A bunch of other interesting stuff, and a ton of diagrams.


Buffalo game: http://www.footballo...crashing-nickel

It seemed that whenever the Patriots wanted to pull a guard, Connolly was the guy, and he usually impressed. When I watched tape of the Patriots last year, it was usually Mankins that was the designated puller, so it seems Connolly has been asked to step up in his absence. He did a nice job of dropping his pads at the point of contact and moving guys out of the hole when he had to.

Sebastian Vollmer impressed for a very different reason: he made Williams an absolute non-factor in the passing game. Williams has been a non-factor for most of the year so far, but he still has enough of a reputation to where stonewalling him is impressive.

One positive thing Vollmer did in pass protection that jumped out was the way he got into Williams quickly. Williams has really long arms and likes to extend on offensive tackles, either to bull rush them straight back or snatch them downward towards the turf. Vollmer short set Williams a lot, meaning he made contact almost on the line of scrimmage, engaging Williams before he could create any distance.

As good as Vollmer and Connolly were though, the real star may have been New England’s game plan. There were two key factors to Patriots’ running game. They were able to keep Buffalo in nickel personnel, and against that, the Patriots ran a lot of Strong formations (two tight ends or a tight end and a fullback on the same side of the formation) and ran right at the defensive back who was aligned in the box to counteract the run-friendly formation.

Jimmy Graham may be a better receiver (maybe), but he’s not in Gronk’s league as a blocker. His ability to block a defensive end one-on-one on a slow-developing play like this is a huge advantage for the Patriots. Anderson was barely able to lay a hand on Ridley as he ran through the hole for an 11-yard gain.


Seeing as how the Patriots would run at the box defensive back almost every time, regardless of whether he was on the strong or weak side of the formation, it makes me think the Patriots were packaging all their runs. They would give Brady two (or more) running plays, and tell him to run right at the guy playing linebacker wearing a number that started with a two or three. It was a great game plan that was executed to perfection.

Again, a bunch of diagrams and a lot more interesting stuff.

Overall, I think Connolly being out for the Arizona game, and Mankins clearly being under 100% lead to the lack of push from the line. A fully healthy Vollmer on the outside is also a very big deal (no more Marcus Cannon... anywhere really, and no spelling Vollmer). Solder seems to be continuing to improve, and the raving about the tools is certainly nice to hear. The biggest thing with the line is that you have to consider it inclusive of the tight ends. The basic mismatch that Gronk represents really can't be understated.

The entire offense seems to revolve around the poison pill choice of nickel or base for a defense. If they get nickel, they need to execute runs effectively like they did against Buffalo. If the line and the backs fail to do that (as they did against the Cardinals), then they'll be in for long days defensively because the 2-TE passing game does not have a huge advantage against a nickel defense. Failing to move the DL when they're playing 2-4-5 is the equivalent of missing connections on seam routes where Gronk is matched up with a LB. The ability to put Gronk on a DE 1 on 1, while demanding a Safety in pass coverage... there's nobody else like that in the league.

Edited by ragnarok725, 04 October 2012 - 12:51 PM.


#2 Morning Woodhead

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 12:57 PM

We really are lucky to have Dante. The tackle depth is still a concern, but Thomas seems to be doing an adequate to strong job inside, so thats encouraging.

#3 Tony C


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Posted 04 October 2012 - 01:18 PM

Vollmer's re-emergence is the happiest event of the year, at least on the offensive side. Though, to give him credit, Cannon has been okay at RT during his reps, too.

#4 Shelterdog


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Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:02 PM

Vollmer's re-emergence is the happiest event of the year, at least on the offensive side. Though, to give him credit, Cannon has been okay at RT during his reps, too.


Make sure you're knocking on wood. Vollmer's a hell of a player but the fact that he's still limited in practice with his back is disconcerting to me (as our media reports that during stretching sessions he doesn't even try to touch his toes like the rest of the players).

#5 RedOctober3829


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Posted 05 October 2012 - 12:07 PM

Make sure you're knocking on wood. Vollmer's a hell of a player but the fact that he's still limited in practice with his back is disconcerting to me (as our media reports that during stretching sessions he doesn't even try to touch his toes like the rest of the players).


To be fair, that's not that uncommon to limit a player's practice time if he's got an injury like that. It's more maintenance than anything else. Believe me, in the non-media portions of practice there's guys that don't participate in every single period of team or individuals.

#6 soxfan121


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Posted 05 October 2012 - 09:01 PM

From the FO article on the Pats-Bills game in Post 1:

I’m sure the Bills aren’t going to give Alex Smith the respect they gave Tom Brady, which will mean a lot less nickel.


Was Buffalo trying to cover Gronk with the shifted safety? If so, it'll really be interesting to see if they try to do it against SF.

#7 pedroia'sboys

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 07:36 AM

Posted Image

Guys unbelievable have nothing else to add.

#8 ragnarok725

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:15 AM

From the FO article on the Pats-Bills game in Post 1:


Was Buffalo trying to cover Gronk with the shifted safety? If so, it'll really be interesting to see if they try to do it against SF.

They had a safety, but they also had 230lb "LB" Bryan Scott in, who they were using primarily to cover Gronk in the middle of the field it looked like. They were in borderline dime.

Same stories for both teams involved in that game last week, however. The Bills got run on, passed on, and quit. The Pats ran on, and passed on a new defense this week, largely due to the same match-up exploitation they used to their advantage in Buffalo.

#9 soxfan121


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Posted 08 October 2012 - 10:26 AM

Both Mankins and Vollmer spent the majority of the 4th quarter on the sidelines - whether due to lingering injury concerns, the chance to get Thomas & Cannon more reps in game situations (a game that was mostly won) or just because...it bears watching.

#10 redsoxstiff


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Posted 08 October 2012 - 12:07 PM

Both Mankins and Vollmer spent the majority of the 4th quarter on the sidelines - whether due to lingering injury concerns, the chance to get Thomas & Cannon more reps in game situations (a game that was mostly won) or just because...it bears watching.


Allof the above...

God bless Dante Scarnecchia...His players are always tough and often surprisingly better than anticipated...He can continue to tune three behemoth OTs with solid interior players ,

Dante has been a Pat since God was a pup ...There isn't anyone better,,,

#11 Phragle


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Posted 11 October 2012 - 09:09 AM

Pro Football Focus@PFF
Only one interior O-lineman has allowed more than three sacks so far this year: New England's Ryan Wendell (4)


#12 Ed Hillel


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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:02 AM

I'm going to be really pissed when Waters plays well for the Texans next season.

#13 ragnarok725

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:08 AM

Pro Football Focus@PFF
Only one interior O-lineman has allowed more than three sacks so far this year: New England's Ryan Wendell (4)

That's interesting - I imagine a good chunk of that came in the Cardinals game with a lame Mankins and no Connolly? My impression has been that he's been playing pretty well. Brady has taken a bunch of coverage sacks this year, wondering if any of those have been extended plays where Wendell eventually lost track of his guy.

#14 Saints Rest

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 10:14 AM

That's interesting - I imagine a good chunk of that came in the Cardinals game with a lame Mankins and no Connolly? My impression has been that he's been playing pretty well. Brady has taken a bunch of coverage sacks this year, wondering if any of those have been extended plays where Wendell eventually lost track of his guy.

Really? (Not to meant to sound snarky, an honest question) did you see the Broncos game? Wendell looked awful, at least based on what I could see watching on my iPhone via DirectV app.

#15 Shelterdog


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Posted 11 October 2012 - 11:09 AM

I'm going to be really pissed when Waters plays well for the Texans next season.


I'm pretty sure he's still under the Patriots' control if he doesn't report this season--essentially his contract for this year gets rolled over to next year.

#16 ragnarok725

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 11:17 AM

Really? (Not to meant to sound snarky, an honest question) did you see the Broncos game? Wendell looked awful, at least based on what I could see watching on my iPhone via DirectV app.

I watched it live, then watched the condensed game. From what I've been able to tell he's been getting a lot of help in the passing game, but has done a good job in the run game (along with all the rest of the OL) - specifically making it to the 2nd level and getting some solid blocks that I saw. He's probably the weakest link on the line - but he certainly hasn't looked awful to me.

#17 Mugsys Jock


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Posted 11 October 2012 - 11:27 AM

I'm pretty sure he's still under the Patriots' control if he doesn't report this season--essentially his contract for this year gets rolled over to next year.

That's sweet. None of this "we'll let him go for a 5th rounder" bullshit then... I think Joseph and two 1sts would be fair.

#18 Shelterdog


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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:04 PM

That's sweet. None of this "we'll let him go for a 5th rounder" bullshit then... I think Joseph and two 1sts would be fair.


I don't mind trading him if you get a fifth or something, especially in the off-season. Don't cut your nose to spite your face.

#19 redsoxstiff


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Posted 11 October 2012 - 12:21 PM

IIRC Brian Waters is not playing...The moving hand having writ ...moves on...

It may be a blessing...Dante can turn his fire on the guards extant...

#20 dbn

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Posted 11 October 2012 - 08:24 PM

I read the title of this thread and thought it was about Spike's latest tweet. [/drumdrumchimetipyourwaitress]

#21 Shelterdog


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Posted 22 October 2012 - 11:51 AM

The o-line needs to get a ton of credit for its performance yesterday. Two starting linemen out up against one of the league's better offenses, which attacks with a bewildering array of blitzes, stunts and twists? No problem. They didn't run it with quite the same power that they normally have, but McDonald and Thomas both had very credible performances.

#22 dbn

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 04:22 PM

The O-line has been so good this season that this thread hasn't been bumped in almost six weeks. Football outsiders ranks the NE O-line #1 in pass blocking and T#7 in run blocking. Here are the number of offensive snaps through 11 games:

Nate Solder: 834
Ryan Wendell: 830
Sebastian Vollmer: 703
Dan Connolly: 553
Donald Thomas: 515
Logan Mankins: 432
Nick McDonald: 190
Marcus Cannon: 154

Here are the starters by week

1: Solder & Volmer; Mankins & Connolly; Wendell (S.V. and M.C. split snaps ~50/50)
2: Solder & Volmer; Mankins & Thomas; Wendell
3: Solder & Volmer; Mankins & Connolly; Wendell
4: Solder & Volmer; Thomas & Connolly; Wendell
5: Solder & Volmer; Mankins & Connolly; Wendell
6: Solder & Volmer; Mankins & Connolly; Wendell
7: Solder & Volmer; Thomas & Connolly; Wendell (N.M. replaces D.C. after 6 snaps)
8: Solder & Volmer; Thomas & Connolly; Wendell
9: bye
10: Solder & Volmer; Mankins & Connolly; Wendell (D.T. and M.C. split snaps ~50/50)
11: Solder & Volmer; Thomas & McDonald; Wendell
12: Solder & Cannon; Thomas & Connolly; Wendell

Would love for someone who pays close attention to the play of the O-line to comment on individual performances. Also, both Vollmer (back/knee) and Connolly (back) are back at practice today.

#23 Phragle


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 05:50 PM

The O-line has been so good this season that this thread hasn't been bumped in almost six weeks. Football outsiders ranks the NE O-line #1 in pass blocking and T#7 in run blocking.


That's because of Brady.

#24 Tony C


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 06:56 PM

True. Also true that Brady's only good because of the OL.

#25 rodderick

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 07:54 PM

True. Also true that Brady's only good because of the OL.


Yes, if there was absolutely nobody blocking for him, I don't think Brady would be an effective quarterback.

#26 Mystic Merlin


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:00 PM

symbiosis symbiosis symbiosis

#27 There is no Rev


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:13 PM

You and the Naboo form a symbiont circle. What happens to one of you will affect the other. You must understand this.

#28 Phragle


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:14 PM

True. Also true that Brady's only good because of the OL.


No, it's not a chicken or egg thing. It's a fact that Brady gets the ball out quicker than anyone, and because of that the O lines numbers will look good statistically. Defenses just can't get good pressure on a QB that throws that quick.

Edited by phragle, 29 November 2012 - 08:19 PM.


#29 There is no Rev


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:16 PM

Phragle no think so!

In fairness, I figured that's where he was going and I largely agree, although it can be overstated. I think the line is good, but they obviously benefit from Brady getting it out so quickly--frankly, they'd probably be the first to tell you he's a joy to block for.

On the other hand, on some plays, they make a nice perty pocket for him to move about in.

#30 Phragle


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:21 PM

Phragle no think so!

In fairness, I figured that's where he was going and I largely agree, although it can be overstated. I think the line is good, but they obviously benefit from Brady getting it out so quickly--frankly, they'd probably be the first to tell you he's a joy to block for.

On the other hand, on some plays, they make a nice perty pocket for him to move about in.


The line is good, but it's not the best.

#31 There is no Rev


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 08:36 PM

The line is good, but it's not the best.




#32 Phragle


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:01 PM

No you ah

#33 soxfan121


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:07 PM

The line is good, but it's not the best.


What's Brady's quick release worth? 10 spots in the statistical rankings? 15? 20?

#34 dbn

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:14 PM

Good point about Brady -- maybe those rankings aren't the best way to judge the line. Nonetheless, their high ranking is consistent with what my eyes tell me: that the offensive line has been very good this year at both pass and run blocking.

#35 j44thor

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:19 PM

No, it's not a chicken or egg thing. It's a fact that Brady gets the ball out quicker than anyone, and because of that the O lines numbers will look good statistically. Defenses just can't get good pressure on a QB that throws that quick.


Is it the QB or the system? The pats run a ton of shotgun, spread and WR screens which are obviously much quicker plays than a P/A heavy system like WAS or SEA. I think there is too much noise in those #s to really come to any conclusion about OL play.

#36 dbn

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:26 PM

To add some more numbers that reflect on the good play by O-line+Brady:

The Patriots have allowed the 2nd fewest sacks (NYG 14; NE & HOU 15; TB & DEN 16). NE's opponents' average sack rate is just about the median, implying that their competition has been a little better than average at getting sacks when not playing the Patriots.

[edit: I do recognize the points being made re: play calling, etc., but the numbers still tell us something, esp. taken in context of the these points.]

Edited by dbn, 29 November 2012 - 09:28 PM.


#37 Phragle


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:28 PM

What's Brady's quick release worth? 10 spots in the statistical rankings? 15? 20?


I have no way to know that. That would be some advanced level shit.

#38 Dogman2


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:31 PM

What's Brady's quick release worth? 10 spots in the statistical rankings? 15? 20?


How did you factor in the play calling/ route running as a function of that release?

#39 Super Nomario


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:40 PM

What's Brady's quick release worth? 10 spots in the statistical rankings? 15? 20?

Football Outsiders does offensive line rankings. The Pats were #4 in pass protection in 2007 (adjusted sack rate: 4.1%). They were 26th in 2008 with Cassel at the helm. With Brady back in '09, they jumped to 2nd. I don't remember whether injuries might have contributed to that, and of course that's comparing Brady to Cassel, not Brady to average (or replacement). But I think it's entirely possible that the amount of times a QB is sacked has more to do with him than with his O-line. Look at a guy like Kerry Collins: 6 teams, of varying qualities, and took fewer-than-average sacks whereever he went.

Edited by Super Nomario, 29 November 2012 - 09:49 PM.


#40 soxfan121


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:41 PM

I have no way to know that. That would be some advanced level shit.


The quickness of Brady's delivery is known; the quickness of an average QB's delivery is known. It's not a big difference but it's a difference. The talent level of the OL can be guessed at by looking at the combination of run blocking effectiveness, hits/hurries/sacks, turnovers, completion percentage, etc. Additional factors like play calling/philosophy (i.e. the hurry-up) can be generalized and incorporated. I bet SuperNomario can calculate that shit.*

Also, I've recently been wondering about the value of Logan Mankins, first round draft pick and highest paid Guard in the NFL (for a while at least). Given that Dante Scarnecchia can (apparently) take five lumps of coal, squeeze & shape them for a couple years and roll out "diamonds" who can rank near the top of the NFL every year does drafting OL high make any sense? Does paying Mankins like a Pro Bowler make sense? Is Mankins a prime candidate to be cut after this season, given how well the unit is performing without him this season?

*Look at the time stamps. I had no idea he had already calculated that shit. Kudos, SN.

Edited by soxfan121, 29 November 2012 - 09:43 PM.


#41 RoDaddy

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:52 PM

The Pats OL this year has been one of the better Boston sports success stories in recent years. On paper, there's NO WAY the names in this group could ever rank as high as they do. Additionally, their best OL - Mankins - has been hurt. But aside from him, everything else has worked favorbably. Solder has been close to a stud at LT. Wendall - who da thought he'd be this decent? I had pretty much written off Vollmer due to chronic injury, but now, a case could probably be made for his being all-pro this year. And Donald Thomas - where did he come from? First and foremost, I credit Scarnesecchia. For all his great work during the last 12 years, I think he should considered for the hall of fame some day, even though I don't believe anyone has ever been enshrined as primarily a coordinator.

#42 dbn

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:53 PM

Football Outsiders does offensive line rankings. The Pats were #4 in pass protection in 2007 (adjusted sack rate: 4.1%). They were 26th in 2008 with Cassel at the helm. With Brady back in '09, they jumped to 2nd. I don't remember whether injuries might have contributed to that, and of course that's comparing Brady to Cassel, not Brady to average (or replacement). But I think it's entirely possible that the amount of times a QB is sacked is more to do with him than with his O-line. Look at a guy like Kerry Collins: 6 teams, of varying qualities, and took fewer-than-average sacks whereever he went.


That's some interesting stuff. I have no idea if it's representative of QBs in general or the two examples you've listed (Brady/Cassel and Collins) are unique, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's the former.

The quickness of Brady's delivery is known; the quickness of an average QB's delivery is known. It's not a big difference but it's a difference. The talent level of the OL can be guessed at by looking at the combination of run blocking effectiveness, hits/hurries/sacks, turnovers, completion percentage, etc. Additional factors like play calling/philosophy (i.e. the hurry-up) can be generalized and incorporated. I bet SuperNomario can calculate that shit.*
(snip)


Quickness of release probably helps, but I'd suspect that it helps more with avoiding strips than sacks. Based on nothing beyond watching a lot of football over my nigh 40 years of life, I'd venture a guess that the order of relevance to a low sack rate goes: (1) O-line; (close 2) QB awareness/pocket presence; (3) play calling; (distant 4) speed of release.

#43 SteveF

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:02 PM

I'd agree that the quickness of release is pretty far down the list. The importance of the quickness of release is less about sacks and more about interceptions. You don't want to give a defensive player an extra tenth of a second notice about where the ball is going.

#44 Super Nomario


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:10 PM

Quickness of release probably helps, but I'd suspect that it helps more with avoiding strips than sacks. Based on nothing beyond watching a lot of football over my nigh 40 years of life, I'd venture a guess that the order of relevance to a low sack rate goes: (1) O-line; (close 2) QB awareness/pocket presence; (3) play calling; (distant 4) speed of release.

I don't mean "quick release" as in "fast arm motion"; I probably lump it in QB awareness / pocket presence. Rodgers and Roethlisberger, otherwise excellent quarterbacks, take a lot of sacks because they hold onto the ball too long.

Ben Muth has a great on-going column on O-line play, and he talks today about Romo setting protection. But even apart from the setting protection, it's important to know when you were wrong and how to adjust. On my blog, I did a breakdown a while ago of two QBs who suck at this stuff: Sam Bradford and Kevin Kolb. When you watch good QBs, they sometimes set the protection wrong, but they know, "I don't have help on a blitz from that side; I need to go rid of the ball." One of Brady's completions to Hoomanawanui or Fells was like this; the TE was lined up in the backfield, there were two blitzers on the left side (where only one would get blocked), and Brady saw it and dumped it off to the TE really fast. Brady probably set the protection wrong, but once the play unfolded he knew it right away and got rid of the ball. Contrast that to Kolb at the end of the Rams game: Finnegan came on the blitz, which surprised him, but the worst part is he had no plan. It's not enough that he set the protection so that he had no help on that side; he has to know, "I have no blockers on that side. If a blitzer comes from the right, I have to get rid of the ball right away." I'm not saying Brady never makes these kind of mistakes, but it's really rare.

I think what the Pats' O-line is really good at is avoiding catastrophic errors. As an OT, a DE can beat you with a speed move outside, and as long as the other OL do their job Brady can step up in the pocket. But if a DE beats an OT across his face, there's not really anything the QB can do. Even when physically outmatched, you rarely see a Pats' OL get beat in a way that Brady can't adjust to. I'm guessing Dante has special punishments in practice for those kind of errors.

#45 dbn

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:29 PM

I don't mean "quick release" as in "fast arm motion"; I probably lump it in QB awareness / pocket presence. Rodgers and Roethlisberger, otherwise excellent quarterbacks, take a lot of sacks because they hold onto the ball too long.

Ben Muth has a great on-going column on O-line play, and he talks today about Romo setting protection. But even apart from the setting protection, it's important to know when you were wrong and how to adjust. On my blog, I did a breakdown a while ago of two QBs who suck at this stuff: Sam Bradford and Kevin Kolb. When you watch good QBs, they sometimes set the protection wrong, but they know, "I don't have help on a blitz from that side; I need to go rid of the ball." One of Brady's completions to Hoomanawanui or Fells was like this; the TE was lined up in the backfield, there were two blitzers on the left side (where only one would get blocked), and Brady saw it and dumped it off to the TE really fast. Brady probably set the protection wrong, but once the play unfolded he knew it right away and got rid of the ball. Contrast that to Kolb at the end of the Rams game: Finnegan came on the blitz, which surprised him, but the worst part is he had no plan. It's not enough that he set the protection so that he had no help on that side; he has to know, "I have no blockers on that side. If a blitzer comes from the right, I have to get rid of the ball right away." I'm not saying Brady never makes these kind of mistakes, but it's really rare.


Insightful, thanks for posting it.

I think what the Pats' O-line is really good at is avoiding catastrophic errors. As an OT, a DE can beat you with a speed move outside, and as long as the other OL do their job Brady can step up in the pocket. But if a DE beats an OT across his face, there's not really anything the QB can do. Even when physically outmatched, you rarely see a Pats' OL get beat in a way that Brady can't adjust to. I'm guessing Dante has special punishments in practice for those kind of errors.


Wow, sounds a bit like what we tend to think of BB's defensive strategy.

#46 There is no Rev


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:30 PM

I have no way to know that. That would be some advanced level shit.

Football Outsiders does offensive line rankings. The Pats were #4 in pass protection in 2007 (adjusted sack rate: 4.1%). They were 26th in 2008 with Cassel at the helm. With Brady back in '09, they jumped to 2nd. I don't remember whether injuries might have contributed to that, and of course that's comparing Brady to Cassel, not Brady to average (or replacement). But I think it's entirely possible that the amount of times a QB is sacked has more to do with him than with his O-line. Look at a guy like Kerry Collins: 6 teams, of varying qualities, and took fewer-than-average sacks whereever he went.


Boom.


Quickness of release probably helps, but I'd suspect that it helps more with avoiding strips than sacks. Based on nothing beyond watching a lot of football over my nigh 40 years of life, I'd venture a guess that the order of relevance to a low sack rate goes: (1) O-line; (close 2) QB awareness/pocket presence; (3) play calling; (distant 4) speed of release.


He wasn't talking about release speed in terms of the passing motion, what we're talking about is total time elapsed from the snap to the release of the ball in a pass, which is enormously significant--it's the amount of time the defense has to cover the distance to get to the QB which is the entire point, and which the function of the offensive line (i.e. to slow those people down) is a part.

#47 Phragle


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Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:44 PM

It should be noted that Brady's Time To Throw has increased since that article was released. It's now at 2.52 seconds, and is second to Peyton Manning at 2.50.

The Patriots have the best pass protection O line on Football Outsiders and the Broncos have the third best. They calculate that by the sack rate compared to the opposing defenses effectiveness versus the other teams. The correlation seems pretty obvious. A QB that throws quick is hard to sack thus makes his O line rank high.

The most impressive part is that Brady and Manning not only throw the quickest, but do it while running the 6th and 7th amount of play action. 26.3% of snaps for Manning, 24.4 for Brady.

Edited by phragle, 30 November 2012 - 05:52 PM.


#48 j44thor

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 07:47 AM

Do Brady & Manning also pass the most out of shotgun? That could explain quite a bit as there is a big difference between faking a quick handoff in shotgun and a true PA pass where you hide the ball. Also any QB that runs a lot of shotgun is going to have a significant advantage since they aren't wasting any time dropping back. You probably shave at least .5 seconds off the release time just by being in shot gun vs. a 3 or 5 step drop.

#49 Zombie Wakefield

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 09:37 AM

The Football Outsiders adjusted sack rate seems to be the best quantitative measurement of offensive line protection publicly available. What would an ideal O-Line stat look like? Football Outsiders starts in the right direction by not only looking at sacks but including intentional grounding penalties, understanding that a sack is not the only possible outcome when pass-blocking protection fails. I would be interested to see if there is a similar correlation between:
-holding penalties per pass play (indicating that an individual lineman failed his block and held the rusher to prevent a sack),
-quarterback hits per pass play (indicating that although the QB gets the pass off, they're passing under duress and can't step into their throw properly -- think the 11/21/10 game vs. the Colts where (Mayo? Cunningham?) hit Manning just as he was throwing, messing him up enough for the pass to be off where Sanders could intercept it to end the game),
-passes deflected at the line per pass play (indicating that the O-line did a poor job establishing passing lanes where the QB could make a clear throw)

Then, for people who like to spend a lot of time reviewing film, there could also be:
-time until first contact on the QB. How long does the O-Line keep their QB clean on each play? If, say Ben Roethlisburger slips out of a rusher's grasp after 2 seconds, then scrambles around and makes a pass at the 4-second mark, should his O-line be credited for the full 4 seconds until he got the pass off? Just as how QB's like Brady and Manning who get the ball out quickly make their line look good by reducing their sack rate, big QBs (like Roethlisburger or Tebow in 2011) and athletic, elusive QBs like Vick/RGIII/Cam Newton similarly make their O-line look good by scrambling around and extending the play even after protection has broken down.

And for people who spend an unreasonable amount of time reviewing film, I propose:
-look at every single pass play. Count the number of rushers and the number of pass-blockers (O-line plus and RB/FB/TEs that remain back for pass protection). Adjust the QB sack rate or time-to-pass rate by the protection ratio. We expect a full O-line to keep the QB upright when the defense is dropping 8 into coverage and only rushing with 3 men, and we expect the O-line to have trouble when the defense brings 5 or more rushers in on a blitz.

Of course, even if we had all of this information available, it still wouldn't be enough to separate O-line performance from QB performance. As noted above, the skill of the QB at setting protection, having innate pocket presence, and getting the ball out quickly can make all the difference in the world. Is it even possible to try to break out O-line play from QB play? I suppose we could look at cases where a team switches QBs mid-season, or where a QB signs with a new team, to see if there is more correlation in adjusted sack rate from o-line to o-line as they change QBs, or from QB to QB as they change teams (as Super Namario noted with Kerry Collins), to give us a better idea of what the QB controls and what the O-line controls (SSS, of course -- there are few QBs who have spent significant playing time with multiple teams, and even where teams have switched QBs there is often turnover on the O-line as well that could affect the numbers).

The more I think about it, the more I'd be interested in a holding-penalty-per-pass-play stat that could isolate poor O-line play (and even then, that could be deceiving due to situations where a QB scrambles around a lineman and creates a holding situation that would not have occurred if the QB had stayed in the pocket).

#50 bankshot1


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Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:40 AM

From Grantland re the Pat's O-line

http://www.grantland...ay-from-week-12

Edited by bankshot1, 30 November 2012 - 10:40 AM.





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