Yesterday we started our countdown to the top pass protection unit of 2010. Today we finish it.
For those just catching up with what we’ve been doing this week, we’ve been looking at a number of features that go into a method for determining the best team in pass protection of the past season.
How we put it all together was laid out in Part 1, but to briefly recap, we considered who gave up the most pressure on a per play basis, how much of that pressure turned into sacks, and how many blockers teams kept in.
We threw those together to build this formula:
Pressure Per Play * Average Number of Pass Blockers Per Play * 1000 = Pass Protection Rating
It should be noted again that Pressure Per Play has some weighting to it as we count a hit or hurry as worth three quarters that of a sack (the importance of the Tuesday piece).
The week of team pass protection info ends here with the Top 16 teams from 2010:
16. Green Bay Packers (1.56)
Sometimes you have a quarterback who invites pressure while buying an extra moment because he can still turn those situations into positive plays. The mobile Aaron Rodgers is certainly one of these guys, finishing the year our top ranked quarterback when he faced pressure. There’s no weakness on this unit except for at the right tackle spot, where both Bryan Bulaga and Mark Tauscher had their troubles, and the backs are among the best when it comes to blitz pick up.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 12th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 19th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 25th
15. Carolina Panthers (1.55)
Credit this unit for finishing so high when it had Jimmy Clausen getting sacked on 27.73% of plays he was pressured on. Some of this owes to having a decent blocking tight end in Jeff King, but most of it comes down to the offensive line. Jordan Gross, Geoff Schwartz and Ryan Kalil had good years, and Travelle Wharton made up for his poor run blocking with some fine work in pass pro. With the prospect of a rookie quarterback or another year of Jimmy Clausen, that line will continue to have their work cut out for them.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 15th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 32nd
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 20th
14. Tennessee Titans (1.55)
There was a time when this unit would have been a lot higher up. As it is, the Titans had to compensate for some really woeful offensive line play. I mean, just what has happened to Michael Roos the past two years? We know the interior isn’t very good, and that Chris Johnson isn’t suited to picking up blitzes, but Roos has gone from one of the best in 2008, to very beatable. But, for having two quarterbacks who both managed to avoid sacks and pressures reasonably well, this could have been a whole lot worse.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 16th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 9th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 4th
13. Minnesota Vikings (1.53)
They might not be able to run block all that well, but there are plenty of worse units in pass protection than the Vikings’ offensive line. The real stories coming from the other guys. Along with his struggles in catching the ball, Adrian Peterson’s pass blocking skills leave you wanting – only one halfback finished with a worse rating in pass protection. At the other end of the spectrum, only one tight end finished with a higher rating than Jim Kleinsasser. The quarterbacks didn’t make anyone look better than they were.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 14th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 23rd
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 15th
12. New Orleans Saints (1.53)
It’s amazing the Saints could finish this high when you consider how poor the tackle play is. Fortunately, they have Drew Brees behind center and an offensive scheme that does its best to minimize the impact of Jermon Bushrod and Jon Stinchcomb. It doesn’t hurt having two behemoth guards in the middle that let very little past in Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks (unless Stephen Bowen is going up against him). Giving Brees that time to step up into the pocket is critical.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 13th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 3rd
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 12th
11. Miami Dolphins (1.53)
The first thing that jumped out about the Dolphins in 2009 was how many men they kept into help in protection. Well, this year it was just as bad. They had some struggles when Pat McQuistan was in the lineup, but you have a franchise left tackle like Jake Long, and good right tackle in Vernon Carey. Do you really need to keep men in as much as the Dolphins did? Are they that scared of Chad Henne’s dwindling accuracy when he’s under pressure?
Pressure Per Play Rank: 8th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 24th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 30th
10. Cincinnati Bengals (1.52)
The Bengals are a real mixed bag. They got excellent play out of Andrew Whitworth and Bobbie Williams, and poor play out of Andre Smith, Dennis Roland and Nate Livings. What’s more, they really messed about with their line, with Anthony Collins becoming the league’s only third down right tackle for a time. He was a massive upgrade on Smith and Roland, but yet was rarely given a proper opportunity to establish himself. We wrote similar things about the Bengals last year. A good unit, but given the talent they have, it should have been better with a quarterback who has a good feel for avoiding sacks.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 11th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 7th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 13th
9. Cleveland Browns (1.51)
It will never hurt to have Joe Thomas at left tackle, and the introduction of Peyton Hillis as an every-down back added another layer of protection to the unit (he surrendered just four QB disruptions all year). They’ll move up the rankings as Colt McCoy does a better job of avoiding sacks, but this is a surprisingly stable unit given the seemingly never ending turmoil the Browns are in.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 10th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 22nd
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 9th
8. Houston Texans (1.43)
The interior of the line does a particularly good job of not allowing pressure up the gut, something which isn’t hurt by playing the Colts twice a year. You do wonder if they might be pressed to bring in a back for some third down blocking help. As good as Arian Foster is catching the ball out of the backfield, he can give up a bit more pressure than you like to see a back give up.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 9th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 15th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 6th
7. Dallas Cowboys (1.41)
The at times predictable Dallas offense, didn’t shy away from leaving their tight ends into pass block, and with good reason. Marc Colombo desperately needed the help, and both Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett are among the best pass blocking tight ends around. With Jon Kitna helping to turn a whopping 23.86% of pressure into sacks, it was best keeping him free of defenders. At least Tony Romo, and his 10.61% returns next year.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 6th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 16th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 23rd
6. New York Giants (1.40)
The Giants recognized they had one pretty big weakness in David Diehl, and opted to leave guys into limit the damage. The tight ends and additional linemen they used went some way towards negating Diehl’s -19.8 pass blocking grade. Special mentions also to Ahmad Bradshaw, who finished the year as our highest-rated pass blocking back. Meanwhile, Eli Manning was the only guy to allow a lesser percentage of pressure to turn into sacks than his brother. Something in the DNA?
Pressure Per Play Rank: 4th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 1st
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 28th
5. Atlanta Falcons (1.37)
The Falcons do have some pretty big issues with Sam Baker at left tackle (-9.3 pass blocking grade), while Todd McClure visibly wore down as the season went on. But, as we said last year, there may not be a better team when it comes to finding the balance of keeping men into pass protect. Couple this with a quarterback who gets rid of the ball quickly and you have a team that makes the most of what it can put out on the field. Better than what they should be? Perhaps.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 5th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 11th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 8th
4. Detroit Lions (1.35)
Somewhat surprising, this owes a lot to the Lions being the number one team when it comes to shunning the thought of extra blockers. That isn’t to slight their pass protection unit which still performed extremely well. No, this is, in large part, on Shaun Hill. The quarterback did an extremely good job of getting rid of the ball and avoiding sacks compared to his quarterback peers. A very handy back-up to have.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 7th
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 6th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 1st
3. New York Jets (1.3)
Let’s take a look at the Jets’ line and where their pass protection grades saw them finish at their position. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, third. Damien Woody, sixth. Nick Mangold, fifth. Brandon Moore, third. Only Matt Slauson struggled with a negative grade in this very well built offensive line. The real problem, however, was the drop in play when Wayne Hunter was on the field, with him having some big issues against better edge rushers. It’s a worry if he starts next year, because this previous piece has already shown how Mark Sanchez struggles when pressured.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 3rd
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 13th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 16th
2. Seattle Seahawks (1.27)
This might surprise a few people. The Seahawks weren’t scared of leaving in extra men to help in protection, but the result was no team surrendered less pressure per play. If there’s a disappointment, it’s that they allowed the third highest amount of pressure to turn into sacks. But overall a great year, with Russell Okung serviceable for a rookie and Sean Locklear finishing with our highest pass blocking grade for a right tackle. If you’re going to focus on limiting damage, do it well. The Seahawks did.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 1st
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 30th
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 24th
1. Indianapolis Colts (1.26)
How do you explain a team with its tackles grading out at a combined -23.3 in pass protection finishing No. 1? Peyton Manning, that’s how. His ability to get rid of the ball before pressure can get to him is second to none, with just 7.52% of all pressure resulting in sacks. Couple that with not needing backs and tight ends to stay in, and you have our top ranked unit for the second year in a row.
Pressure Per Play Rank: 2nd
Sack % of Pressure Rank: 2nd
Average Number of Blockers Per Play Rank: 2nd
The pass protection week that was: