Protection Issues

Daryn Colledge

Thus far this season, the offensive offensive line has been the talk of the town. Opinions on the subject have ranged far and wide, from fire Campen, it is all Barbre’s fault, Colledge sucks, Aaron is holding it too long, Ted Thompson needs to be fired for poor talent. I applaud Bedard’s recent analysis of release times in the Mn game (Here). By and large, I think that it speaks to a lot of confusion on the issue, simply put it is hard to pin down what the issue is. Compounding everything is that the Packers lead the NFL in sacks given up, and that typically is the only stat readily avalable; as a volume stat and only part of the picture, overall it is a very poor indicator stat.

I went though all the stable QB situations thus far this season (Cle, Phi, Sea, Det, Mia, StL, Tam have not been), and tallied all the pressure metrics for the QB, there are some interesting findings. The three primary pressure statistics are sacks, hurries, and hits. Sacks are self explanatory, a hurry is a play where a defender chased the QB, but the QB got the ball away and wasn’t hit, a hit is similar to a hurry, but the QB is hit in the end.

Unfortunately the stats have not been updated for this week yet, so this is only through week 5.

Combined Pressures Per Attempt:
1. Ryan – 17.6
2. P Manning – 21.3
3. Orton – 22.5
4. Brees – 25.2
5. Big Ben – 25.9
6. E Manning – 27.0
7. Collins – 28.3
8. Flacco – 28.6
9. Favre – 28.8
10. Brady – 28.8
11. Palmer – 30.3
12. Campbell – 30.6
13. Romo – 32.2
14. Sanchez – 35.4
15. Delhomme – 35.7
16. Cutler – 38.0
17. Rivers – 38.8
18. Shaub – 39.6
19. Warner – 40.5
20. Russell – 41.2
21. Hill – 41.3
22. Rodgers – 42.9
23. Cassel – 46.5
24. Garrard – 47.8
25. Edwards – 48.8

Expressed as a percentage of attempts. All pressure types (sacks/hurries/hits) are combined and divided by the number of attempts. This represents the percent of passes where the QB is pressured. While this combines the whole protection package and QB play, I think that this stat most directly reflects the quality of the pass protection the line is providing.

Sacks Per Combined Pressures:
1. P Manning – 5.1
2. E Manning – 5.4
3. Brady – 8.2
4. Ryan – 9.1
5. Shaub – 10.8
6. Collins – 11.1
7. Warner – 11.8
8. Brees – 12.1
9. Garrard – 12.8
10. Flacco – 13.0
11. Cutler – 15.4
12. Romo – 16.1
13. Rivers – 16.1
14. Palmer – 18.5
15. Sanchez – 19.6
16. Orton – 20.5
17. Cassel – 20.9
18. Edwards – 22.2
19. Delhomme – 22.2
20. Favre – 23.9
21. Hill – 24.2
22. Campbell – 26.5
23. Russell – 26.8
24. Big Ben – 27.1
25. Rodgers – 31.7

Expressed as a percentage of combined pressures (sacks/hurries/hits), this represents the likelihood that pressure from an opponent will cause a sack, as opposed to a hurry or hit. Though protection is a whole team effort, I think that this gives the best window in the QB’s performance in the pocket. Sacks are negative plays much more than throwaways or little checkdowns that gain nothing.

QB Hits Per Game:
1. E Manning – 2.4
2. Ryan – 2.5
3. Brees – 3.0
4. P Manning – 3.2
5. Orton – 3.6
6. Sanchez – 4.4
7. Flacco – 4.6
8. Brady – 4.8
9. Collins – 4.8
10. Palmer – 5.0
11. Favre – 5.0
12. Big Ben – 5.2
13. Romo – 5.4
14. Cutler – 5.5
15. Campbell – 5.6
16. Russell – 5.6
17. Shaub – 6.4
18. Delhomme – 6.5
19. Hill – 7.2
20. Rivers – 8.3
21. Rodgers – 8.3
22. Warner – 8.5
23. Cassel – 8.5
24. Garrard – 8.6
25. Edwards – 8.6

This I think looks at it a little different. Instead of a per play perspective, this looks at the bigger picture, how much is the QB actually getting hit (combined hits; hits and sacks). I am a believer that a decent % of QB injuries are not the direct result of pressure, and those that are are not necessarily that much more likely given more pressure (a freak occurance is a freak occurance).

Overall, you can sugarcoat it all you want, but our line sucks. It may not be as bad as many Packer fans make it out to believe (it is not a historically bad line as some believe). We have had a rough start. Losing your starting LT to injury for any length of time is often a ticket to the top 10 next spring, playing a backup C and backup LT and still winning is quite an accomplishment, even against poor teams.

There is plenty of blame to go around. The line is not blocking well, and though it doesn’t lead the NFL in pressures per pass attempt, it is in the bottom 5. Replacing one bookend and have the other go down to injury, is a surefire way to make it happen. From weeks 2-4, between Clifton’s injury and Colledge’s, the only player playing where he did last season was backup C Scott Wells. With Colledge out it was even more drastic. Lines are built on chemistry, this past offseason the line was big time redone, hopefully as the season goes on, this group gets a whole lot better.

Aaron Rodgers isn’t exactly helping the situation any. He is taking way too many sacks. One thing concerning is that one of his best freinds in the league is big Ben, Aaron seems to have a similar pressure defiant style (stats bear this out too). Never content to just get rid of it, he seems to always be looking to make a play and is willing to take a sack to reach that goal. It is working though as well, however he has been sacked A LOT. He hasn’t been intercepted an unusual amount, and his QB rating and YPA is high. We might just have to live with a QB that gets sacked a lot.

Aaron really needs some better awareness of where he is on the field, more than once he has been sacked out of field goal range, with very preventable sacks. One thing that is odd, though Aaron is the most likely to be sacked QB, he is the least likely to be hit QB (QB hits, not combined hits). It is the direct opposite. He leads the league with the fewest QB Hits Per Pressure. It seems that where a lot of other QB’s stand tall and deliver a strike, Aaron tucks the ball and gets sacked.

Aaron is “getting killed out there” (a football cliche catchphrase that really annoys me, applicable here nonetheless). Not as much as it may seem, but he is among the most hit QB’s. Again, the blame on this is part the line, part Aaron, part McCarthy, and part the WR’s. The whole offense shares some of the blame. Fortunately the QB hits don’t appear to “wear down” Aaron, as he performs his best typically in the 4th quarter.


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One Response to “Protection Issues”

  1. Packers Daily Links 10.20.09 - Railbird Central Says:

    […] finds out the Packers aren't doing so hot. "There is plenty of blame to go around," writes Waldo. "The line is not blocking well, and though it doesn’t lead the NFL in pressures per pass […]

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