Signature Stats: Pass Blocking Efficiency, RBs and TEs

Mike Renner breaks down the pass blocking efforts of the league's running backs and tight ends in this look at one of our most popular Signature Stats.

| 4 years ago
2013 WK14 PBE

Signature Stats: Pass Blocking Efficiency, RBs and TEs

2013 WK14 PBERunning backs and tight ends are a crucial part of any good pass protection scheme. Various blitz pickups often fall on the shoulders of these two positional groups and their success can be the difference between offensive success and failure.

So far backs and tight ends have a combined 8,080 pass blocking snaps on the season or 252 per team; that’s no small role. Below is a table showing how frequently each positional group has allowed pressure this season.

  Pressure Rate
Centers 3.17%
Guards 5.55%
Tackles 7.59%
Running Backs 8.52%
Tight Ends 5.96%

As you can see backs allow the most pressure per snap, presumably due to the location and nature of blitz pickups. Tight ends on the other hand allow pressures at a considerably lower rate than tackles. There are two major contributing factors to this. When tight ends stay in to block there are at least six pass blockers and the tight end isn’t necessarily responsible for one player in particular and is therefore less likely to allow a pressure. Another is that tight ends will stay in to block frequently on ‘smoke’ or quick option routes and where the likelihood of pressure is negligible.

Running Backs and Fullbacks

Backs on average this season have stayed in to block on 26.4% of all passing plays. This percentage can vary wildly though depending on scheme and type of running back. Below are the backs with at least 150 passing snaps that have stayed in to block at the highest and lowest rates. *Note: Only backs with at least 150 passing snaps are listed.

Top 10, RB Pass Blocking Percentage

# Name Team Passing Plays Pass Block Snaps Pass Block %
1  Daniel Thomas MIA 178 71 39.9
2  Mike Tolbert CAR 267 104 39.0
3  Donald Brown IND 201 78 38.8
4  Rashad Jennings OAK 257 97 37.7
5  Frank Gore SF 327 123 37.6
6  Chris Ogbonnaya CLV 349 122 35.0
7  Trent Richardson IND 238 81 34.0
8  Brian Leonard TB 167 56 33.5
9  Doug Martin TB 158 52 32.9
10  Lamar Miller MIA 334 109 32.6

Bottom 10, RB Pass Blocking Percentage

# Name Team Passing Plays Pass Block Snaps Pass Block %
37  Arian Foster HST 190 32 16.8
38  Danny Woodhead SD 292 48 16.4
39  Pierre Thomas NO 306 48 15.7
40  Bruce Miller SF 191 28 14.7
41  LeSean McCoy PHI 375 54 14.4
42  Shane Vereen NE 170 22 12.9
43  Marcel Reece OAK 222 28 12.6
44  Reggie Bush DET 278 34 12.2
45  Andre Ellington ARZ 192 19 9.9
46  Darren Sproles NO 211 9 4.3

Perhaps the most surprising part of this list is the juxtapositions in northern California. Both the Raiders and 49ers running backs (Rashad Jennings and Frank Gore) appear in the most frequent pass blockers while their full backs (Marcel Reece and Bruce Miller) appear in the least frequent. One would assume that you would want the fullback in to pass protect with the more dynamic running back out in a route. Both teams have seen middling results as Reece ranks 24th (1.25) in Yards per Route Run and Miller 20th (1.33).

Running Back Pass Blocking Efficiency

What Maurice Jones-Drew has done in pass protection this season has been nothing short of amazing. Listed at 5-foot-7 and 210 pounds, Jones-Drew gives up five inches and 30 pounds to almost every linebacker he takes on. Fred Jackson holds our half back record for most pass blocking snaps without a pressure for a single with 83 back in 2011. Jones-Drew has already surpassed that total and if he can stay clean through the last three games he’ll put up an almost untouchable record.

Here’s a look at the some of the best and worst this season per our Pass Blocking Efficiency Signature Stat, a score derived from the total number of sacks, hits and hurries allowed with the number of pass blocking snaps taken into consideration.

Top 10, RB Pass Blocking Efficiency  *Note: Only backs with at least 40 pass blocking snaps are listed

# Name Team Passing Plays Pass Block Snaps PBE
1  Maurice Jones-Drew JAX 331 102 100.0
2  DeAngelo Williams CAR 190 48 98.4
3  Eddie Lacy GB 285 90 98.3
4  Frank Gore SF 327 123 97.6
5  BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN 179 57 97.4
6  Alfred Morris WAS 201 65 97.3
7  Lamar Miller MIA 334 109 97.0
8  John Kuhn GB 132 49 96.9
9  Marshawn Lynch SEA 267 68 96.7
10  Andre Brown NYG 126 41 96.3

While Jones-Drew hasn’t allowed a pressure all season, LeSean McCoy isn’t likely to go through a game without allowing one. The Eagles running back has allowed at least one pressure in nine of his 13 games this season. It’s quite the testament to his running ability that McCoy is still our highest graded running back this season despite having the lowest blocking grade.

Fullbacks Jed Collins and Tommy Bohanon are proving this season that big doesn’t equal pass blocking proficiency. Collins is listed as 6-foot-1, 255 pounds and Bohanon at 6-foot-1, 246 pounds, but that hasn’t kept them from allowing seven and eight pressures, respectively.

# Name Team Passing Plays Pass Block Snaps PBE
37  Ray Rice BLT 362 99 90.9
38  Le’Veon Bell PIT 323 59 90.3
39  Ben Tate HST 259 62 89.9
40  Brandon Bolden NE 184 41 89.6
41  Doug Martin TB 158 52 88.5
42  Jed Collins NO 142 50 88.5
43  Tommy Bohanon NYJ 142 49 86.7
44  Danny Woodhead SD 292 48 86.5
45  LeSean McCoy PHI 375 54 85.6
46  Darren McFadden OAK 143 44 84.1


Tight Ends

So far this season tight ends have run pass routes more frequently than running backs and have only been asked to pass protect on 16.47%. There can be extreme deviation, though, in how often tight are asked to pass block. Some are used almost as an extra tackle while others are basically wide receivers. Here are the Top and Bottom 10 tight ends broken down by pass blocking rates. *Note: Only tight ends with at least 150 passing snaps are listed.

Top 10, TE Pass Blocking Percentage

# Name Team Passing Plays Pass Block Snaps Pass Block %
1  Gary Barnidge CLV 222 139 62.6
2  Ben Watson NO 177 80 45.2
3  Michael Hoomanawanui NE 228 95 41.7
4  Jeron Mastrud OAK 178 65 36.5
5  Jim Dray ARZ 258 89 34.5
6  Marcedes Lewis JAX 236 63 26.7
7  Lance Kendricks SL 207 55 26.6
8  Jermaine Gresham CIN 430 106 24.7
9  Logan Paulsen WAS 311 75 24.1
10  Anthony Fasano KC 271 61 22.5

Bottom 10, TE Pass Blocking Percentage

# Name Team Passing Plays Pass Block Snaps Pass Block %
41  Scott Chandler BUF 441 25 5.7
42  Owen Daniels HST 219 12 5.5
43  Antonio Gates SD 489 24 4.9
44  Jimmy Graham NO 446 22 4.9
45  Dallas Clark BLT 285 14 4.9
46  Kellen Winslow NYJ 177 8 4.5
47  Jared Cook SL 364 16 4.4
48  Jermichael Finley GB 159 7 4.4
49  Vernon Davis SF 327 13 4.0
50  Delanie Walker TEN 388 12 3.1

Unsurprisingly, a majority of the Top 10 would be considered No. 2 tight ends while the Bottom 10 is composed of mainly No. 1’s. That distinction is no more obvious than in New Orleans where Jimmy Graham has pass blocked on 58 fewer snaps than Ben Watson despite playing 269 more passing snaps.

Tight End Pass Blocking Efficiency

Even though Lee Smith and Craig Stevens haven’t allowed a pressure yet, it’s hard not to be impressed with Gary Barnidge’s pass blocking. He has by far the most attempts at 139 and has allowed four pressures on the season for a pressure rate (2.9%) under half the league average for tight ends.

Top 10, Tight End Pass Blocking Efficiency  *Note: Only tight ends with at least 30 pass blocking snaps are listed.

# Name Team Passing Plays Pass Block Snaps PBE
1  Lee Smith BUF 106 40 100.0
2  Craig Stevens TEN 100 30 100.0
3  Andrew Quarless GB 274 49 98.5
4  Matthew Mulligan NE 80 47 98.4
5  Kyle Rudolph MIN 275 44 98.3
6  Coby Fleener IND 449 40 98.1
7  Tony Gonzalez ATL 533 49 98.0
8  Gary Barnidge CLV 222 139 97.8
9  Julius Thomas DEN 425 94 97.3
10  Charles Clay MIA 460 76 97.0

When looking at some of the dreadful scores in the Bottom 10, it’s no wonder why some teams will just put in a sixth offensive lineman. Jim Dray’s 89.6 PBE is lower than the worst mark for an offensive tackle, his teammate Bradley Sowell (89.8).

Bottom 10, Tight End Pass Blocking Efficiency 

# Name Team Passing Plays Pass Block Snaps PBE
30  Virgil Green DEN 92 37 93.9
31  Sean McGrath KC 268 47 93.6
32  Garrett Graham HST 477 58 93.1
33  Tom Crabtree TB 75 31 91.9
34  Zach J. Miller SEA 290 58 91.8
35  Jeff Cumberland NYJ 236 52 91.3
36  Dion Sims MIA 106 39 91.0
37  Martellus Bennett CHI 487 58 90.5
38  Logan Paulsen WAS 311 75 90.0
39  Jim Dray ARZ 258 89 89.6


PFF Signature Stats offer a look at the game you can’t find anywhere else, but, as always, we suggest you first rely on PFF player grades for the best sense of overall performance for any player. The grades take into account much more than any one statistic ever will and that’s why they’ve become a valuable tool not only for fans and media to use, but for the teams as well as they incorporate PFF grades into their player evaluation processes.


Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

  • Joe

    I think your treshold of 30 PBSs for TEs to qualify for this list is way too low. For example, if I understand correctly, Virgil Green’s PBE of 93.9 (in the bottom 10) implies he was successfull on 35 pass blocking attempts (missing on just 2). If instead he had missed on just 1 (a non-significant statistical difference), his PBE would be over 97 and good enough to make the top 10.

    • Mike Renner

      I agree with your point, it is probably lower than I should have gone. I made the decision based on the low number of qualifiers at higher snap levels.

      • Joey Gardner

        I, for one, am really surprised to see Julius Thomas in the top ten. Then again, run blocking is a whole different animal from pass blocking.

  • VikesSteve

    eddie lacy wished he was as good as AP.

    • Everything Burrito

      Strange statement. Are you upset that Lacy excels in pass blocking? Because I’m sure you’re right that Lacy does look up to AP as far as rugged running goes. Lacy is a beast in his own right though.

  • Spike

    Your line about assuming Marcel Reece should block more because he’s a fullback, and thus less dynamic, is a symptom of why there’s still hesitancy to embrace analytics. Just shows that you clearly didn’t do enough homework on who Marcel Reece is and what he does on the football field. These players are much more than just names next to a position and statistics.

    • Hannah Hayes

      “Just shows that you clearly didn’t do enough homework on who Marcel Reece is and what he does on the football field.”

      So, you are going to write that the only group in the world that watches every player, every play, every game, hasn’t done their homework or watched him on the football field…. You do know that what you put on the internet is there for everyone to see, right?

    • Mike Renner

      I’ve watched quite a bit of Marcel Reece actually. I understand that he plays quite a bit of running back and is currently filling in their. I’ve also watched quite a bit of Rashad Jennings and IMO Jennings is the more dynamic player. Reece lining up all over the formation likely attributes to his low pass blocking rate, but I think the point holds.

  • Guest

    Why don’t they show the whole chart.