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Who's a Good Pass Blocker? Wait, It Isn't Cadillac Williams? Or Davin Joseph? Or Jeff Faine?

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"What do you mean I can't block? Man, I'm not going to be worth anything on the open market."
"What do you mean I can't block? Man, I'm not going to be worth anything on the open market."

It seems I keep referring to Pro Football Focus. That's what happens in the lockout: all you can write about are stats, team workouts and the lockout. It gets boring pretty quickly. Regardless, I have come yet again to the wells o knowledge over at PFF to be dumbfounded by its statistics. This time, it appears that Cadillac Williams was the 14th-worst pass blocking running back of the last three years. He gave up 21 pressures over 271 plays. I'm baffled.

There are a number of problems with that stat, though. First, sample size. 217 plays may seem like a big sample, but when you're counting pressures in the low double digits it's stil not very significant. One more or one fewer pressure allowed can make a big difference. Then there's the whole three-year evaluation thing: Cadillac didn't really turn into that superb pass blocker until this season. And yes, he was absolutely superb as a pass blocker, despite him being missing from the top 15 2010 pass blocking backs. The fact that only two players in the NFL took more pass blocking snaps should be a testament to how much the Bucs trusted him. 

And then there's their big three-year pass-blocking study. Surprisingly, Jeremy Trueblood didn't make the list of worst tackles. I was dumbfounded by that. But I was shocked by how badly they had rated Davin Joseph and Jeff Faine: the 4th and 6th worst pass blockers at their position, respectively. I was under the impression that Joseph's 2010 season was a temporary thing, and indeed I've seen him shut down many a pass rusher in the past. But Pro Football Focus thinks he's worthless.

Jeff Faine's presence on that list is even more baffling, to be honest. No, he's not the greatest pass blocker, but does anyone remember how the Bucs performed when he was out with injury in 2009 and Sean Mahan had to come in? That was horrible. There's no way that Faine is the 6th-worst pass blocking center in the NFL if he's that much better than his replacement at the time was. 

Yes, the data now says that Caddy, Joseph and Faine are poor blockers, but that data will always be subject to variance and will always be subjective (what constitutes a pressure? When is it the fault of the quarterback? What's the opposition?) And, of course, the data is never the full story on a player, only one more tool to understand a player. If you really want to know how good a player is, the best thing to do is watch the tape.