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Talking Metrics -- Bengals offensive linemen... G.I. Joe? You'll see...

I know some of your eyes gloss over (or fingers click that big "X" on the top right hand corner of your screen) when I dig into the subject of metrics. Personally, I find it fascinating. Mainstream stats are fine, but metrics is more. For example, take a one-yard rush. Just a single, measly, no-good, way-below average, yard run. Zero mentions in the mainstream stats dictate how critical a one-yard rush is. A one-yard rush on a 3rd-and-15 draw is justified for a relentless chorus of boos. I, too, get those weird looks when screaming my curse-word acronyms. Alternatively, a one-yard rush that results in a touchdown is (what's the word I'm looking for) FREAKING GREAT! A one-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-one (or inches) gives the offense a new set of downs and a lease that could be paid with touchdowns. Touchdowns. Which is critical to a team's success. Knowing that helps you justify your arguments later. Perhaps it's irrelevant. Perhaps not. But I'm about to make the point that the Bengals offensive line, through all the injuries and rotating players, was still pretty damn good.

Totally off-topic, Dillon is a madman impressionist. Great.

Back on topic.

You get two mainstream stats when chatting offensive line. Two. Sacks allowed and yards per carry by the running backs. That's it. When offensive linemen win Pro Bowl honors it's a factor of three objects -- two of which are ESPN love and fellow offensive linemen whom vote for post-season awards. The last is the length of a career that you'll eventually learn the guy's name. Offensive linemen aren't noted in fantasy football, rarely mentioned as individuals and even more rarely known on teams other than your own. Sure, you have the aberration of league (general) football bloggers and complete football lunatics. But I'll put money on it that a lot of fans don't know their own team's linemen. Not us though. We know our shiz-nit.

Other than that, offensive linemen get no love.

Football Outsiders is the best source for finding the effectiveness of offensive linemen ranked with several parameters.

Adjusted Line Yards -- takes the yardage by running backs and assigns to offensive linemen using the following:

  • Losses: 120% value
  • 0-4 Yards: 100% value
  • 5-10 Yards: 50% value
  • 11+ Yards: 0% value

These numbers are then adjusted based on down, distance, situation, and opponent. They are then "normalized so that the league average for Adjusted Line Yards per carry is the same as the league average for RB yards per carry (in 2005, 4.08)."

Hey (click, click), over here.

"The following stats [categories] are not adjusted for opponent:"

  • RB Yards: Yards per carry by that team's running backs, according to standard NFL numbers.
  • 10+ Yards: Percentage of a team's rushing yards more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.  Represents yardage not reflected in Adjusted Line Yards stat.
  • Power Success: Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.  This is the only statistic on this page that includes quarterbacks.
  • Stuffed: Percentage of runs that result in (on first down) zero or negative gain or (on second through fourth down) less than one-fourth the yards needed for another first down.  Since being stuffed is bad, teams are ranked from stuffed least often (#1) to most often (#32).

So let's examine the Bengals briefly and you can more onto more understandable items within this blog.

The Bengals offensive line finished with a 4.43 Adjusted Line Yards average against a 3.97 yards per carry by Bengals running backs. They finished with a 72% on Power Success, which means they convert many of their short yardage plays. It's well known the Bengals didn't have many big runs. They finished 29th with a 9% with 10+ yard runs.

The Bengals adjusted sack rate -- sacks per pass attempt adjusted for opponent, down, and distance -- ranked 11th (5.4%).

So while it might be easy to blame the musical chairs of linemen injuries, all things considered, they were still well above average against the entire NFL.

Now you know...