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The Giants' OL Is...Not Even Close to the Worst in Pass Protection in the NFL????


There is an article today in The Athletic with mid-season rankings of individual OLs and team-wide OL performance in pass protection at the (approximate) mid-point of the season:

https://theathletic.com/2962998/2021/11/19/nfl-midseason-pass-protection-report-tyron-smith-to-liam-eichenberg-and-everyone-in-between/?source=dailyemail&campaign=601983

I don't know about you, but when I saw this article I immediately scrolled down to the bottom to see whether our OL was #30, 31, or 32. It wasn't there. It was...#16, as judged by pressures and sacks.

Here are the top 3 teams:

1. TB: 18.0 pressure %, 72 pressures, 3.0 sack %, 12 sacks
2. PIT: 18.2 pressure %, 68 pressures, 4.9 sack %, 18 sacks
3. LAR: 19.0 pressure %, 74 pressures, 3.9 sack %, 15 sacks

Here we are:

16. NYG: 25.1 pressure %, 91 pressures, 5.9 sack %, 20 sacks

And here are the 3 worst teams:

30. IND: 30.5 pressure %, 114 pressures, 5.0 sack %, 18 sacks
31. SEA: 31.3 pressure %, 96 pressures, 10.0 sack %, 29 sacks
32. MIA: 34.6 pressure %, 153 pressures, 6.4 sack %, 27 sacks

(and for those of you who watched TNF last night, ATL is #24.)

There are a couple of amazing, and sobering, things about these rankings:

- IND is supposed to be the poster child for going about building an OL the right way. But they've been plagued with injuries this season, and although the injured players are back, they haven't performed very well. Three of their starters (Fisher, Glowinski, Kelly, 2 of them round 1 picks) have combined for 65 pressures and 10 sacks.

- MIA has supposedly done what the Giants have not - devoted lots of high draft picks to the OL: Robert Hunt (round 2, 2 sacks, 25 pressures, 1 ineligible receiver); Austin Jackson (round 1, 2 sacks, 37 pressures); Liam Eichenberg (round 2, 9 sacks, 43 pressures, the single worst OL in the NFL by these statistics).

- ATL, whose OL looked awful last night, also has devoted considerable resources to its OL ( 3 round 1 picks, 2 round 3 picks), apparently to no avail.

Here are some individual Giants' performances:

Andrew Thomas (#9 in the OT rankings): 3.2 pressure %, 6 pressures, 0 sacks
Nate Solder: 7.4 pressure %, 25 pressures, 3 sacks
Matt Peart: 5.6 pressure %, 11 pressures, 3 sacks
Will Hernandez: 4.7 pressure %, 17 pressures, 3 sacks
Billy Price: 3.4 pressure %, 11 pressures, 1 sack
Matt Skura: 5.2 pressure %, 10 pressures, 1 sack
Ben Bredeson: 4.8 pressure %, 5 pressures, 1 sack

Here are the 2020 round 1 picks other than Thomas, Jackson:

Jedrick Wills: 7.8 pressure %, 18 pressures, 4 sacks
Mekhi Becton: 6.7 pressure %, 2 pressures, 0 sacks (but only 30 pass block snaps)
Cesar Ruiz: 3.5 pressure %, 11 pressures, 5 sacks
Isaiah Wilson: Has not played
Tristan Wirfs (#2 in the OT rankings): 2.0 pressure %, 8 pressures, 1 sack

And here are the 2021 round 1 picks:

Penei Sewell: 7.0 pressure %, 26 pressures, 4 sacks
Rashawn Slater: 3.1 pressure %. 12 pressures, 2 sacks
Alijah Vera-Tucker: 6.6 pressure %, 26 pressures, 1 sack
Alex Leatherwood: 9.8 pressure %, 35 pressures, 5 sacks
Christian Darrisaw: 2.9 pressure %, 5 pressures, 1 sack

And by the way, Wyatt Teller, who just signed that mega-extension with CLE? 4.7 pressure %, 16 pressures, 3 sacks. Almost identical to Will Hernandez.

And to get you angry - Kevin Zeitler: 1.9 pressure %, 7 pressures, 0 sacks

On the other hand, for us Trey Smith fanboys: 5.3 pressure %, 25 pressures, 4 sacks. Not so great as we imagine.

And a couple of old favorites:

Bobby Hart: 18.0 pressure %, 9 pressures, 2 sacks (in only 50 pass block snaps!)
Ereck Flowers: 4.4 pressure %, 16 pressures, 3 sacks

Caveats:

1. This is only about pass protection. To my eyes the Giants' OL is lousy in run blocking as well, though they did look pretty good against LV. The article doesn't assess run blocking (which doesn't vary as much from best to worst teams if you believe the ESPN run block win rate metric).

2. Offensive coordinators can scheme around a bad pass-blocking OL using short quick passes, rolling out the QB, etc., so the numbers don't necessarily directly reflect that. As much as I dislike Jason Garrett's approach, one has to admit that he is trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

No one would claim that the Giants didn't commit draft malpractice by not drafting a single OL in 2021. But the numbers tell us that even teams who can rightfully claim that they have prioritized the OL in the draft for years don't necessarily get the results they hoped for (MIA, ATL). Some that did prioritize the OL and did get results suffer injuries that ruin their OL's performance in a given year (IND) because the depth is not great. And some teams that have a reputation for building a great OL don't necessarily look that way when you look at the numbers (CLE, ranked #12, which is OK but far below what the hype about them suggests).

Fixing the damn OL once and for all is an elusive pursuit.

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