Pro Football Focus continues its series of articles evaluating the blocking skills of offensive linemen. Yesterday, we wrote about the poor play of Charlie Johnson at left tackle, a position that is not a natural fit for him. Today, we talk about Jeff Saturday and Kyle DeVan with a sprinkling of Jamey Richard.
Now, before we proceed, I'll quote a line from omahacolt that sums up my feelings regarding PFF, and most other sites that deal with stats and ratings:
i take their ratings with a giant bottle of salt
I like PFF, Football Outsiders, and Advanced NFL Stats. I also like the work done at Pro Football Reference. All the sites provide a wealth of information for the fans of football, even though Bill Polian hates each and every one of them.
But, just because they deal in stats does not necessarily mean their evaluations of players, coaches, and games are accurate using those stats. In the case of PFF and these articles written about o-linemen, I think they are actually pretty close. Much of what I base my personal evaluations on is what I see with my own two eyes. I then go and look at stats to see if the numbers match what I saw. And in the case of the Colts o-line, I think PFF's analysis matches mine.
Plus, anytime a stats site calls Jeff Saturday the best pass blocking center in the NFL, that site is going to get on my happy side.
For Saturday, he earned a Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) rating of 0.80, making him the No. 1 most efficient pass blocker at the center position. He beat out Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk by 0.04.
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.
When discussing guards, No. 15 on the list of the Top 20 most efficient pass blockers was Kyle DeVan, logging a rating of 2.38. This doesn't surprise me because, as I've stated for some time now, Kyle DeVan is a damn good football player.
What also did not surprise me was seeing Jamey Richard listed in he category of 'sucks as a pass blocker.' With only 200 pass protection snaps in 2010, Richard ranked 9th worst among guards. Richard is a truly horrible offensive lineman. But, we knew that already.
Now, what did surprise me about these rankings is the guy Richard replaced in 2010, Ryan Lilja, was ranked as the 11th worst pass blocking guard in football. That, to me, is shocking because Lilja (who signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after the Colts cut him in 2010) had an outstanding year last season. Many felt he should have gone to the Pro Bowl.
I'm also kind of shocked Mike Pollak didn't show up on the bottom 20 efficiency list for guards. Pollak was awful in 2010, just as he was awful in 2009 and in 2008. He's just awful, period. I shudder to think that this is the guy Bill Polian thinks will replace Jeff Saturday. I personally think that's Bill's pride talking, and not his common sense.
Regardless, I feel very good heading into 2011 with the offensive line we have. Charlie should move to guard, and with both Saturday and DeVan that area should be shored up. Or, they can throw Charlie out at right tackle, move rookie Ben Ijalana to guard, and have a starting line of:
LT- Anthony Castonzo
LG- Kyle DeVan
C- Jeff Saturday
RG- Ben Ijalana
RT- Charlie Johnson
Personally, I think that puts the team's five best o-linemen on the field, and gets the teams worst linemen (Pollak, Richard) on the bench.