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Offensive Line Analytical Approach

I'm looking to break down the Ravens offensive line in a statistical approach. The offensive line can be a tricky thing to judge as it isn't just one stat such as rushing and passing. However, breaking down the offensive line isn't completely impossible. In fact, you may be surprised.

The Ravens power success for 2011 is 63%. This is the percentage of runs on third and fourth down, two yards or less to go that got a first down or a touchdown, or runs on first and goal and second and goal from the two-yard line or closer. This puts the ravens slightly above league average. Their power success rate went up once Grubbs came back from his injury, which isn’t a surprise.

The running game was stuffed only 18% of the time. This includes the amount of times the runner was stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage. The Ravens were above average to good at gaining positive yards in the running game. The Eagles were stuffed 25% of the time. Yikes.

As a group the offensive line was above average last season. Now let’s break it down to see whose is the weakest link in the group.

Note: Below I am using adjusted line yards (ALY) for the average yards ran behind each position. This gives us a better sample of the offensive lineman’s performance over the running back. Don’t confuse this with the actual yards per carry.

Running to the left was the biggest problem for the running game in 2011. They ran behind McKinnie 15% of the time at a 3.91 ALY. This is horrible and ranks the Ravens among the worst in running behind the left tackle. This could simply mean that Rice isn’t as comfortable running to the left so I went back and looked at the 2010 stats. Running behind Oher in 2010 the Ravens were around league average at 4.11 ALY instead of significantly below league average this past reason running behind McKinnie. It also should be noted that team’s best defensive end is usually lined up against the left tackle which makes the league average in running to the left the lowest in any direction.

The running game up the middle was above league average. This includes running behind the left guard, center, and the right guard. I knew the Ravens did a decent job running up the middle but I was little surprised they did such a good job considering the injury to Grubbs, the age of Birk and the end of the year injury to Yanda. In 2011 the Ravens ran up the middle 56% of the time at 4.22 ALY. Let’s compare that to the best and worst teams in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints were the best running up the middle at 4.94 ALY and the Kansas City Chiefs were by far the worst at 3.39 ALY. This gives me hope that our running game will be fine without Grubbs.

A slight shocker was that the Ravens ran the best running behind Oher. The Ravens ran behind the right tackle 19% of the time at a 4.70 ALY. This is great for us and puts the Ravens in the top 10 in the NFL for 2011. Oher may have his problems at times with penalties and getting beat on passing plays, however, in the running game the guy can be a bulldozer. This makes you wonder if Oher would be the best candidate for left guard.

So far I’ve mostly focused on the running game but I’ll go a tad into the Ravens passing protection in 2011. The Ravens were decent in only giving up 33 sacks. I was actually thinking this stat was going to be higher but to my delight we were among one of the lowest teams in sacks. The league worst was the Rams who gave up 55 sacks.

Now let’s look at the adjusted sack rate which includes sacks plus intentional grounding penalties per pass attempt adjusted for distance, down, and opponent. Our adjusted sack rate was 5.9% and this puts us in the above average to good percentile in protecting our quarterback.

Overall, our offensive line was above average last season. Unless something changes we will only be losing one guy on our line and it’s a big guy to lose. The Ravens won’t be able to find anybody that will play up to Grubbs level for next season, however I do believe our offensive lines performance will still be decent.

The opinions posted here are those of the administrator of this blog and his loyal readers. They are in no way official comments from the team, and should not be misconstued as such, even though he thinks he could do just as well or even a better job!

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