I'd like to preface this by saying that I am a Colts fan even though it may appear that I love the Patriots. To be specific I love one specific part of the Patriots... their offensive line. I'm a small guy and I used to coach Wide Receivers for a high school in my hometown. I'm not some former offensive lineman with an ulterior motive to get the lineman recognition. But I am a fan that has realized the sheer importance of the offensive line to the success of a team in the NFL.
Allow me to present a set of numbers…
0.4 & 121.1
50.7 & 107.9
6.9 & 86.8
27.6 & 55.2
32.1 & 93.3
9.2 & -17.3
Those are the pass blocking and run blocking grades for the New England Patriots from 2008 to 2013, courtesy of www.profootballfocus.com
Allow me to present another set of numbers…
-34.6 & 14.9
26.2 & 10.5
0.1 & -15.6
-2.8 & -48.7
-46.4 & -4.8
-18.4 & -13.0
Those are the pass blocking and run blocking grades for our Colts from 2008 to 2013.
So how do these grades work? I love ProFootballFocus, they’re a great website for people interested in being an intelligent football fan and not just somebody yelling at their TV set while drunk beyond all belief. ProFootballFocus grades every single snap for every single player. Their website explains in more detail but I’ll keep it simple for you. A zero grades out as average, while on any given play a player can receive a grade as high as +2 or as low as -2. These grades are added up for each player over the course of a game and then gradually added together over the course of the season.
What these grades show us is that over the course of the last five years the Colts have consistently been below average along the offensive line while New England has been consistently above average, except for run-blocking this year. In fact the 2013 run blocking is the only o-line stat the Colts have performed better than the Pats and frankly they’ve both been pretty awful.
However, when you look at pass blocking the only year we had a good offensive line was our 2009 Super Bowl losing campaign. Meanwhile the Patriots have had better pass protection for Tom Brady every single year ProFootballFocus offers these stats.
I dislike the Patriots just as much as anybody else on this blog. But as I’ve watched the Pats year after year hoping for them to lose I’ve noticed one big thing… Tom Brady has all day to throw! Very often the closest defender is 1-2 yards away from him.
I don’t have time to get into all of the statistics. However, if you look at the pass blocking grades for good quarterbacks there is a strong correlation over the course of the last five years between success of good quarterbacks and good pass blocking. In 2009 Drew Brees’s pass blocking graded at 28.0… he won the super bowl. In 2010 Aaron Rodger’s pass blocking graded at 27.8… he won the super bowl. Those are just a few examples.
Is Andrew Luck going to be as good as Manning, Brady, Brees, or Rodgers? I think so but it may take a few years to get to that level. In that time the Colts need to get him an O-line.
Here are some stats as to how we’re currently doing protecting Luck.
· Out of 75 graded offensive guards in 2013 Hugh Thornton and Mike McGlynn come in at 68th and 69th while receiving respective grades of -12.4 and -12.9 in pass blocking.
· Only four guards have given up more quarterback hurries in the entire NFL than Mike McGlynn. Meanwhile Thornton and McGlynn rank 1st and 2nd in allowing the most QB hits in the NFL with 13 and 9 respectively. Congrats guards for the Colts, you rank first in something!
· Only one other center in the league has given up more QB hits than Samson Satele.
· Only 3 other QBs have been hit more as they’ve released the ball compared to Luck
· Andrew Luck is under pressure 39.4% of his dropbacks (11th worst)
· Overall Satele, McGlynn, and Thornton are our lowest graded players on offense.
· Satele, McGlynn, and Thornton are also our worst run blockers according to the PFF grades.
· No team has allowed more QB hits than the Colts on Luck
· Only eight other teams have had more QB hurries
· Only three other teams have allowed more QB pressures
· Only three other teams graded out with a lower pass blocking efficiency than the Colts
It’s clear that most of the pressure on Luck is coming up the middle. Castonzo and Cherilus have been serviceable at the tackle spots but the interior of the line is a mess!
We can sit here on this blog and debate who should get fired all we want. Brad Wells thinks Pagano needs to go; others are now calling for Grigson’s head. Frankly, I don’t care about any of that. I care about taking care of the future of our franchise however that can be done by any means necessary. So how do we do that? Draft more O-line? Sign free agents? Pay a proven O-line coach a lot of money to come in and fix this mess? Not sure, I just think it needs to be done before we can win rings with Luck.