When people think of pass protection the thing that immediately springs to mind are offensive tackles. Those guys dealing with the dominant defensive ends and outstanding outside linebackers.
No doubt it’s important, but it’s also important for a quarterback to be able to step up in the pocket and into his throws. For that you need guards and centers who can hold their ground and not let defensive tackles get a push or penetrate past them.
So Part 2 of our Pass Blocking (In)Efficiency week sees us turning our attention to those interior men doing just that.
You’ve seen the formula in our previous pieces, but as a reminder:
((Sacks + (0.75 * Hits) + (0.75 * Hurries)) / Pass Pro Snaps) * 100
Simple enough and for the purposes of this study, only players who stayed into pass protect on at least 200 occasions qualified.
We’re going to be grouping guards as one entity, and centers as another and the results (as you would imagine) are interesting (for lovers of offensive line play anyway). Starting with the guards, narrowly ending up top is the perennially underrated Bobbie Williams. While his run blocking may not have been as dominant as in previous years, he gave up just 11 QB disruptions all year, and only more than one in a game four times.
That was slightly better than Brandon Moore of the Jets who had a quite remarkable last six games of the season (including the playoffs). In those games, he gave up just the a solitary pressure as he was a key cog in the Jets formidable offensive line. Elsewhere in the top five there is the guy recognized by many as the league’s top guard, Logan Mankins, and a Packer whose excellence seems to be really catching on in Josh Sitton.
Mankins and Sitton, however, sit behind one of the free agent signings of 2010. When Houston snapped up Wade Smith it seemed like he was just one of a number who would compete for playing time. In a move that didn’t surprise us (he had a strong finish to ’09 as a Chief), Smith won the starting job and a lot of praise for his positive performances. Any time you give up less than a pressure per game you’re doing well.
Pass Blocking Efficiency, Guards, Top 20, 2010
Pass Blocking Snaps
Those are the good, but what about the bad? Top of the charts in that regard is Philadelphia Eagle Nick Cole. He gave up seven sacks (as many as any other guard) and had a particularly hard time with players like Cullen Jenkins, Ndamukong Suh and even Eric Foster. Max Jean-Gilles was far from a superstar, but offered a noticeable upgrade when he entered the lineup.
Also landing in the bottom five we’ve got a Pittsburgh Steeler in Chris Kemoeatu. The former Super Bowl champ had a particularly rough playoff series, where the Jets (in particular Trevor Pryce) and B.J. Raji of the Packers really took him to town. That pushed his PBE rating higher than Davin Joseph, a player who has rarely lived up to the hype that has surrounded him. Only three of the games he started (not including his eight snap day in Week 12) ended with him giving up just one pressure, with games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Arizona resulting in five.
Pass Blocking Efficiency, Guards, Bottom 20, 2010
Pass Blocking Snaps
Moving on to the centers. Of course, given that centers often are helping to double and not primarily charged with picking someone up, they are less likely to give pressure up. So that should be noted, with the significance of this rating not as strong as is it for guards and tackles. In any case, at the top we have the only Colt who Peyton Manning seems to be able to rely on from the offensive line. After giving up no sacks and just eight total pressures, Jeff Saturday narrowly finished higher than the Ravens’ Matt Birk. Even though the former Viking gave up one fewer pressure, Saturday was in pass protection far more often.
The real surprise name near the top is Lyle Sendlein. The Cardinal isn’t surrounded by the best pass protecting talent, but he gave up just two sacks and seven total quarterback disruptions. That put him ahead of Nick Mangold, who may be the best center of this generation, but finished ‘only’ sixth in this look (though how much of that can be put down to injury we’ll leave to your judgment).
Pass Blocking Efficiency, Centers, Top 10, 2010
Pass Blocking Snaps
Conversely, if there’s a player who has struggled to live up to his contract at the center spot we’re looking at Jeff Faine. Most people see his problem as being an inability to stay on the field, but when he is on it, he is far from a top-tier center, as his play against rookie DT Corey Peters showed in Week 13. Those kind of performances put him far in front of the competition here, where Titans center Eugene Amano finished second.
The name however that sticks out like a sore thumb is Maurkice Pouncey. Impressive for a rookie perhaps (though not as impressive as Alex Mack was last year), Pouncey had some real issues in pass protection which made some of the accolades that come his way a real disservice to some other centers. In previous articles we’ve mentioned what Kyle Williams did to him in Week 12 (a performance you have to really watch to truly appreciate), but Williams wasn’t the only one to have his way with Pouncey. Look at what Mike Wright did to him in Week 10. The point is, Pouncey had a good year with his run blocking and may have the potential to be the league’s top center, but he’s not there yet.
Pass Blocking Efficiency, Centers, Bottom 10, 2010
Pass Blocking Snaps
There’s our look at the interior line men and how they fared in pass protection. Up next, we’re going to take a look at three years worth of data for all spots on the offensive line so stay tuned for that tomorrow.
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