Down and dirty with the offensive line in 2009.

Recently we've had a lot of discussion on the offensive line, how they played in 2009 and what to expect in 2010.  Given that we played two different schemes up front in 2009, the numbers may not be a fair representation of how they played in '09.  We can go back to 2008 and look at those numbers to give us an idea, and combined with the '09 numbers get a decent idea as to what we have.  Further helping us is that the same five starters are returning for 2010, so with no turnover, we can hope the same crew grows into a better line as they play more snaps together.

For 2008 numbers you can look at my piece here. For 2009 numbers, hit the jump.

 We've been through most of these stats before, so I'm going to just lay them out for you.  If you need some additional insight or have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.  And before I get started, all numbers are from FootballOutsiders.com.

The general measure is Adjusted Line Yards (ALY).  Quick refresher course.  For each run a portion of the yards are credited to the offensive line.  It is based on the length of the run as it stands that the longer the run, the more likely the running back had input into the run.  The shorter the run, or a run that nets negative yardage most likely falls on the line. 

 
Rank Team ALY RB Yds
31
TB 3.58 3.8
x
NFL x 4.29

Witness Exhibit A on why the Bucs line is seen as underperforming.  Ranked second to last in the NFL in ALY and almost a full half yard lower on YPC than the NFL average.  Our line didn't do well at opening up any running lanes, nor did our running backs do much with any of the open space they saw.  This pretty much lines up with what we all saw in 2009.  With a statue as a quarterback, a second year rookie and a true rookie as our starting quarterbacks, I don't think many teams were scared of our passing attack.  Crowding the line, getting ahead in the game and Olsen's refusal to run the ball all contributed to our ALY being poor.  For reference, tops in ALY was Miami at 4.5 and worst was San Fran at 3.5

Next up is power football. 

Power Rank Stuffed Rank
65% 13 21% 21
64% x 19% x

Not too shabby on the power success percentage and rank. Top half of the league and over league average. Power success is just what it sounds like, short yardage situations.  Nice to see that though we don't feature a classic big back, we were somewhat successful here.  In the "stuffed" category, we fall back to below average.  This signifies the percentage of runs where the back was held to no gain or less.  One out of every five runs went for no gain or a loss.  Yuck.  At least we are somewhat close to league average here.  Tops in the league at Power Success were the Bengals at 79%, with San Diego last at 46% (and so closes the book on the passing of L.T. as we know him). Stuffed winners were Miami at 14% and the losers were San Francisco at 24%

Lastly, we'll look at sack rates to see how clean we were keeping our quarterback.

Rank Sacks Adj Rate
11 33 5.70%
x 35 6.40%

Success!  Almost top 10, we gave up about a league average number in sacks, but due to our propensity to drop back and wing it, our adjusted sack rate was actually a pretty good figure compared to the rest of the league.  To give you some idea how good we were (or more so, how bad the worst team was in 2009), the best team in adjusted sack rate was Indy at 3.1% (Mr. Manning says thank you) while Buffalo was dead last at 9.9%. 

Feel free to debate and discuss the OL.  My opinion is that they have not performed any better than league average the last two years.  Doesn't mean they suck, doesn't mean I hate them, doesn't mean they should be cut.  But with an apparent stud in Donald Penn who will command some money, one of the highest paid centers in Jeff Faine, a top draft pick and big money guy in Davin Joseph and a second rounder in Trueblood, I expect more.  I'm hopeful that with one system and one quarterback the line will find their groove, but only the 2010 season will give us that info.

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