After some fine work by Nathan Jahnke breaking down which receivers have picked up the most Yards Per Route Run over the past three years, I’ll be spending the rest of the week discussing three years’ worth of Signature Stats when it comes to pass protecting. Today I’ll be looking at offensive tackles and tomorrow I’ll move onto guards, before finishing with centers, tight ends, and running backs in the days that follow.
How I’ll be doing that is pretty simple: three years of data from our Pass Blocking Efficiency numbers–a stat of ours that shows which players are giving up the most (and least) pressure relative to how much they’re on the field in pass-blocking situations, factoring in the nature of the pressure as well.
It works itself out by first adding sacks to three quarters the value of the total number of hits and hurries then dividing that result by the player’s pass-blocking snaps. Multiply by 100 and subtract that from 100 and you have the PBE. The closer the final result is to 100 the better.
Sounds easy, right? Let’s get to the findings (note: only those OT’s who spent at least 1,000 snaps pass protecting in this time frame qualified for the study).
Cardinal fans won’t be surprised to hear that no offensive tackle has given up more sacks (30) or total pressure (179) than Levi Brown has over the past three years. It’s fair to say that for two-and-a-half years of that period there wasn’t a more consistently helpless tackle in the league. But maybe something switched in the former first-rounder last year, because in the second half of the season his performance stepped up in a big way. Can he keep that going? Or without the worry of an expiring contract will he revert to his old form? Even if he does keep it up, he’ll still likely head this list. You have a gap of 36 total pressures to the guy below him. Jeremy Trueblood take a bow, as even after earning a benching in 2010 you still snared second spot, with three total pressures more than Buccaneers teammate Donald Penn and the Vikings’ former left tackle (now left guard) Charlie Johnson.
Inefficient Pass Blocking
Now, to be fair to Levi Brown, only two players have spent more pass-protecting snaps at tackle over the past three years. He’s, therefore, had more opportunity to give up pressure than his peers. This is where the PBE formula comes into effect and puts things in context.
By looking at the number of times they were in a pass protecting situation we get a much better idea of which tackles gave up the most pressure on a regular basis. So, good news Levi Brown fans, the Cardinals’ tackle isn’t the worst. The bad news: he has the second-lowest score. It’s only David Diehl’s’ impressive ability to give up pressure that stood in his way, with the Giants’ lineman giving up 116 pressures on 1,191 snaps at tackle (keep in mind the fact he’s played some guard over the past three years).
It wasn’t just Diehl and Brown who stood out for their low scores. Anthony Davis of the 49ers was just below them in third with Jeremy Trueblood ever so slightly better with the fourth-worst score of all tackles. Rounding out the Bottom 5, Miami and Dallas fans won’t be all too shocked to see the name of recently-retired Marc Colombo who had a particularly tough couple of years before hanging up his cleats.
The Cream of the Crop
I don’t know about you but I’ve had enough time writing about the bad, so how about we move onto the good? Naturally, let’s start by telling you all who the most efficient pass blocker (by the numbers) has been over the past three years, and that means joy for Cleveland Browns fans. Their big-money first-round pick, Joe Thomas is the top dog after giving up just 60 combined sacks, hits, and hurries on 1,655 snaps in pass protection. That was enough to best both Jake Long and Andrew Whitworth, while David Stewart and Jason Peters rounded out the Top 5. Peters, who will miss all of 2012 due to a twice torn Achilles injury, is a name to focus on for Eagles fans. They have essentially lost a Top 5 tackle and replaced him with Demetress Bell who had the 12th-lowest score of all in this study. He may have improved last year, but it’s got to be a concern going forward.
The Pass Blocking Efficiency metric is a great way of just breaking things down by pure numbers, and it tells us a lot about which tackles are given up the most pressure, but it isn’t as exhaustive as our grading which goes further than just looking at pass protection snaps and pressure numbers. We here at Pro Football Focus actually look at how quick the pressure comes and will, as part of our desire to improve our product, look at how quickly the quarterback gets rid of the ball. So, have a look at the grading for a real sense of the best pass protectors, but in the meantime the list above shows you the most efficient.