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Stacked Against Us: A Football Outsiders Analysis Of The NYG Offensive Line

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Let's take a look at statistical analysis from a different source. Football Outsiders provides insight with some unique stats we can delve into.

Al Bello/Getty Images

We previously brought you a DVOA and DYAR analysis of the skill position players for the New York Giants. This time, let's use Football Outsiders' stats to bring you some sweet information about how our offensive and defensive lines are holding up. In case you wanted a refresher, here's a quick run down of what DVOA and DYAR mean:

DVOA is a metric based on value. This is the short explanation that comes from FOs site itself:

DVOA measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.

It essentially means that every single play is compared to a "success rate" on league average, adjusted to by quality of opponent and a bunch of other variables. Pretty neat stuff.

DVOA is similar to PFF's grading system and I'm not saying one is better than the other, it's all just a matter of personal preference.

Football Outsiders also has a metric called "DYAR" which takes a long view look at a player. It is the football equivalent of baseball's WAR for those sabermetrics fans out there. DYAR stands for "Defense Adjusted Yards Above Replacement." Let me explain:

Take, for example, 500 snaps by DeMarco Murray. He's pretty damn good. Now just take him away from the Dallas Cowboys. Those 500 snaps don't just disappear along with him, they are distributed to players behind him. You can generalize what an inferior or "replacement" level player will do in those 500 snaps and compare it to Murray. A DYAR of 0 is what indicates what a "replacement" level player plays at. Anything above means better, and anything below means worse. You don't have to be ranked 16th to have a DYAR of 0. You can be ranked 16th and still be better than a replacement player, it just means there are more players doing good things at that position.

That is essentially DYAR. It's a lot more complicated than that and includes mumbo jumbo which I'm not very good at, but that's the basic view. If you want to learn more, a detailed explanation can be found at their site here.

Alright, so that's basically it. Let's take a look at some cool facts and figures on the offensive line.

The Offensive Line

Run Blocking

The offensive line is based on FOs regression analysis of the team's running back's yards per carry. This is called "Adjusted Line Yards." FO assigns responsibility to the offensive line based on each run with this breakdown:

Loss of yards: 120 percent

0-4 yards: 100 percent

5-10 yards: 50 percent

11+ yards: 0 percent

Then these values are adjusted for down, distance, opponent, and generally what the situation is. This sort of gives you a chance to see who is doing the leg work. If the NFL's standard RB YPC is lower than the "Adjusted Line Yards" metric, you know the offensive line is doing better than the RB. The same is true the other way around.

The NFL average is 4.10 yards per carry, and the Giants' traditional running backYPC this year is 3.72, so that's a huge decrease. Their adjusted line yards is 3.90. That means that while both the running backs and offensive line stink in the running game, the offensive line is doing a little bit better. The Giants, by the way, rank 19th in these adjusted rankings.

Where Exactly is the Problem Then?

Looking a bit deeper, Football Outsiders presents us with data that shows what the adjusted line yards and success each NFL team has in a particular discussion.

The NFL average in adjusted line yards is presented to you, followed by ours when running in each direction. The carry percentage is how often teams run to each side. Pretty self-explanatory.

Left End

Left Tackle

Mid/Guard

Right Tackle

Right End

NFL avg. Adjusted Line Yards

3.86

3.84

3.98

4.03

3.76

NYG avg. Adjusted Line Yards

4.18 (14th)

3.95 (15th)

3.96 (18th)

3.74 (23rd)

3.39 (20th)

NFL avg. Carry %

11%

13%

52%

13%

11%

NYG avg. Carry %

11%

13%

52%

13%

11%

Well, would you look at that. In a previous film study, I remarked that Will Beatty was a good run blocker. We think of our offensive line as terrible run blockers, but just look at the table. Runs that go off the left tackle and at the left tackle are actually better than NFL average. Runs that go between the center and guard are below average and runs to the right side are way below average.

This is a question I have of the coaching staff. The Giants are running at the right and left side at the EXACT SAME. PERCENTAGE. This is despite the huge margin of difference between the two. It doesn't make that much sense to me. It seems they are committed to a balance when it comes to the right and left side.

How Do They Do In Short Yardage Situations?

Football Outsiders has us covered here with two metrics, "Power Success" and "Stuffed" rankings.

Power Success: The success percentage of runs on third or fourth down with two or less yards to go or on goal-to-go situations of any down with two or less yards to go. A "success" is measured by a run that resulted in a first down or touchdown in these situations.

Stuffed: This is the percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. This is usually due to (but not always) breakdowns by the offensive line, so it's a good metric. It's impossible to try and differentiate each individual play, but we all realize that most of the time it's because the offensive line didn't succeed on blocks.

Where do the Giants rank? Well, they have achieved "Power Success" 58 percent of the time, which ranks 24th in the league. That doesn't look good, especially when you have supposed heavy hitters like Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings. By comparison, the NFL average on these "power situations" is 65 percent success. The top-ranked team? Surprisingly, it's the San Diego Chargers, who have achieved "power success" a whopping 91 percent of the time. That's insane.

How about limiting negative plays? Let's take a look at the stuffed ranking. The Giants are stuffed on 18 percent of their runs. That seems like a lot! Guess what the rank is? It's 16th. Yes, the Giants are average when it comes to limiting negative plays, with the NFL average ranking being 19 percent of runs stuffed. The best team in the league is the Cincinnati Bengals, who only get stuffed 13 percent of the time.

How Dependent Are We On The OL In The Run Game?

This is a great question and one where we can look at the big play ability of our running backs. Football Outsiders has a stat that looks at how much yardage running backs can make without the offensive line's help (sort of).

Second-Level Yards: This is essentially how many yards running backs get between 5 to 10 yards past the line of scrimmage on average per run.

Open Field Yards: This is essentially how many yards running backs get more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage on average per run.

Both of these stats, especially "Open Field Yards" essentially calculate how the running backs do with the offensive line (so kind of opposite of the short yardage measures) and it looks at how many big plays they can get. The NFL average for "Second Level Yards" is 1.03 yards. The Giants' number is 1.08 yards, which ranks 23rd in the league. Why are they better than average, yet rank in the bottom half of the league? It's because some of the teams near the bottom are really bad at it, so they skew the results.

How about "Open Field Yards"? Well the NFL average is 0.58 yards. The Giants' number is 0.36, which is significantly worse. They rank 28th in the league.

What does this mean? Well nothing we really don't know, that Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings are hardly what one would call "explosive" and aren't really built for the big play. That means they are very dependent on the offensive line to give them an initial crease if the Giants want to be successful running the ball.

Enough About Run Blocking, How About Pass Protection?

One area that I think Football Outsiders could do a better job in is data regarding pass protection. Their lone stat for this area is "Adjusted Sack Rate."

Adjusted Sack Rate: This is simply sacks and intentional grounding penalties divided by all pass snaps. There is also adjustment for down and distance, but how this affects the rate, I'm not exactly sure.

The average adjusted sack rate for the NFL is 21 total sacks (thus far) and a sack rate of 6.4 percent. That's just about right for the Giants, who have an adjusted rate of 6.4 percent as well, and rank 14th in the league.

Final Word

This was a lot of words for a lot of what we often see with our own eyes. We explored run blocking in great depth. What did that show? That the Giants are below average when it comes to both running backs (mostly Williams, as we saw in the previous post that Jennings is pretty good), and with the offensive line. The blame, at least through FOs view, is more slated towards the RBs in this case.

We also saw that while the Giants aren't very good in short yardage situations (which again, is concerning given the style of RB we've been trotting out there), they aren't all that bad when it comes to negative plays. This also shows us that the team is heavily reliant on the offensive line as well for positive yardage because the study shows that big plays aren't going to be coming any time soon to this offense from the running backs.

Finally, we also learned that as bad the team has looked in pass protection, among the league they rank to around average. So we've got that going for us.

Stay tuned for our final piece looking at the defensive line. I promise that things will stay ugly!