Yesterday we talked about the quality of offensive tackles Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood. Now we get to talk about the interior offensive line, and Pro Football Focus's rankings of those players. Apparently, they all suck. I'm not kidding, here. Ted Larsen is the 6th-worst pass blocking guard in the league. Davin Joseph is the 4th worst. Most surprisingly, Jeff Faine is the single worst pass-blocking center in the NFL. It isn't all bad, though, they rank Jeremy Zuttah as the seventh best pass-blocking center in the NFL.
I'll start with Zuttah. Certainly Zuttah is a better pass-blocker than he is a run-blocker, but the seventh-best pass-blocking center in the league? That seems a bit much, but looking at my own charting, I had him down for just 2 blown blocks in pass protection all season long. Football Outsiders' game charting had him down for 5 total. Whichever metric you use, Zuttah did a good job as a pass-blocker, though it should be noted that he wasn't asked to take on pass rushers on his own much.
But then the data on Jeff Faine is entirely different. Pro Football Focus has him as the single worst pass blocker in the NFL. And it's not even close, his efficiency rating is 5.10, the second worst mark was held by Augene Amano of the Tennessee Titans at 3.52. This baffles my mind. Jeff Faine isn't the best center in the league, but he's not even close to being the worst. And Pro Football Focus' data doesn't coincide with my own or Football Outsiders', either. I had him down for a grand total of 5 blown blocks in pass protection, while Football Outsiders' had him down for three. Faine is a fine pass blocker in my opinion, and the data I have seems to confirm that. Only Pro Football Focus's doesn't.
I can't really agree with the rankings of Davin Joseph and Ted Larsen, either. Sure, Joseph had a poor year and Larsen regularly struggled. But the the fourth- and sixth-worst guards in the NFL respectively? I don't see it. The data's a bit split on this, I'm afraid. I had Joseph down for 9 blown blocks in pass protection, but Football Outsiders had him down for 4. Given the fact that I know my own charting, I'm obviously more inclined to trust that, but make of that what you will.
There's more agreement on Ted Larsen: Football Outsiders had him down for 13 blown blocks in pass protection, and I had him down for 9. Certainly it's true that Ted Larsen struggled one-on-one in pass protection, and I could maybe believe his ranking as the sixth-worst pass-blocking guard in the NFL. Keep in mind, though, that Larsen was a rookie thrown into the fire who should improve immediately with an offseason of strength work.
While I may not agree with the specific rankings of players, Pro Football Focus does provide evidence for one fact: the Bucs had a very poor interior line last season. This is no surprise with all the different injuries and starters: the Bucs had at least 2 different starters at each position, and even had 3 at left guard. A lack of continuity can hurt an offensive line mightily, especially when they're trying to run zone blocking schemes as the Bucs were wont to do in 2010. The switch back to a power-blocking scheme should fit the Bucs better, and having everyone healthy should improve play as well. But outside Davin Joseph the Bucs lack great talent at these key positions.