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Old 02-08-2006   #1
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Default Run Blocking Analysis

I looked at the data described in the link submitted by infantrycak on another thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by infantrycak
Here is Football Outsiders' attempt to rank OL's by their system which orders them on adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate. Take it FWIW. They do a lot of stat manipulation which IMO has lead to some pretty odd conclusions which make me question their methodology, but it is interesting.

I then made an attempt at visualizing the data shown in the tables while comparing the Texans yardage from year to year. According to the description in the article,

Quote:
This second table lists each team's Adjusted Line Yards in each direction listed in official NFL play-by-play, along with rank among the 32 teams. Only five directions are listed because research so far shows no statistically significant difference between how well a team performs on runs listed middle, left guard, and right guard:
I believe I have accurately portrayed the data in the following table. In my table for instance, the first line is for 2002. It shows that runs to the outside of the left tackle went for an average of 3.31 yards per carry. It then shows that the runs between left tackle and left guard averaged 2.68 ypc, between the guards 3.30 ypc, between right guard and right tackle 2.20 ypc, and outside the right tackle at 2.95 ypc. Each subsequent line is the next year of the Texans existence. Here is my graphic (sorry about the table - I had a nice Excel chart I couldn't import):


YR-----------LT------LG---C---RG------RT
2002----3.31----2.68-----3.30-----2.20----2.95
2003----3.89----3.70-----3.60-----4.04----3.80
2004----4.85----3.85-----4.35-----3.96----2.83
2005----4.16----4.14-----4.62-----3.75----4.35


What does the data show? There are many variables not shown here of course - like the identity of the running backs, injuries, etc. - but some general items can be seen, IMO.

2002 - I don't know what this shows because the team was so new and raw. I guess it shows we didn't run very well.

2002 - 2003 Transition - No comment.

2003 - Pitts at LT improved at run blocking inside and outside of his LT position. We were better across the line and significantly so on the right side. This is also the year Davis joined the team at RB.


2003 - 2004 Transition - Wand moved to left tackle, Pitts to left guard, Wade joins team, zone blocking implemented

2004 - Running outside of Wand produced the highest average shown in the table. It increased our ypc outside left by almost a full yard per carry. Running between LT and LG improved a little bit. Our running between the guards increased .75 ypc. Pitts surely had some effect here, but it also appears that McKinney may be a good run blocker in the zone blocking scheme. Runs between Weigert and Wade stayed about the same, but runs outside Wade dropped dramatically. Could the assumption that Wade is an effective run blocker be wrong? Running outside right averaged almost 2 YPC less than outside left.

2004 - 2005 Transition - Texan coaches install a quicker paced offense and re-emphasize their ball control, run oriented offense. They bench Wand who is one of their quickest linemen and seemingly the best run blocker in 2004. Riley plays 4 games at LT, before being replaced by Pitts who plays the final 12 games there. Injuries play a significant role in the season, giving Milford Brown a lot of playing time at LG. McKinney plays most of but not a full year at center.

2005 - Running outside left drops .7 yards per carry. Running between LT and LG increase .3 ypc. Running between guards increases again. These two increases make it appear Brown is a good run blocker, and it also appears it is indeed true - McKinney is a good run zone blocking center. Running between RG and RT remains consistent again, but running outside right makes a 1.5 ypc improvement. Either Wade found his blocking skills again, or we did well there after Weigert replaced him. The data isn't granular enough to tell. I think Wade's blocking probably improved. For the first year in our history running up the middle was our most effective area.

Other conclusions:

1) Wand should have been given the same opportunity to improve his skills from his first year starting to his second that Pitts had. His pass blocking would have improved, especially if the Texans implemented the same double teaming schemes with Wand/Pitts that they did with Pitts/Brown. If Wand's excellent run blocking had improved even incrementally it would have helped the 2005 offense quite a bit.
2) McKinney seems to be a good zone blocking center for the run.
3) Brown may be a good run blocking guard.
4) I don't know about Wade
5) Weigert is consistent.


So. Judging by the data and not the "common knowledge" of the board, what do you think?
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Last edited by Runner; 02-08-2006 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 02-08-2006   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Runner
I looked at the data described in the link submitted by infantrycak on another thread:




I then made an attempt at visualizing the data shown in the tables while comparing the Texans yardage from year to year. According to the description in the article,



I believe I have accurately portrayed the data in the following table. In my table for instance, the first line is for 2002. It shows that runs to the outside of the left tackle went for an average of 3.31yards per carry. It then shows that the runs between left tackle and left guard averaged 2.68 ypc, between the guards 3.30 ypc, between right guard and right tackle 2.20 ypc, and outside the right tackle at 2.95 ypc. Each subsequent line is the next year of the Texans existence. Here is my graphic (sorry about the table - I had a nice Excel chart I couldn't import):


YR-----------LT------LG---C---RG------RT
2002----3.31----2.68-----3.30-----2.20----2.95
2003----3.89----3.70-----3.60-----4.04----3.80
2004----4.85----3.85-----4.35-----3.96----2.83
2005----4.16----4.14-----4.62-----3.75----4.35


What does the data show? There are many variables not shown here of course - like the identity of the running backs, injuries, etc. - but some general items can be seen, IMO.

2002 - I don't know what this shows because the team was so new and raw. I guess it shows we didn't run very well.

2002 - 2003 Transition - No comment.

2003 - Pitts at LT improved at run blocking inside and outside of his LT position. We were better across the line and significantly so on the right side. This is also the year Davis joined the team at RB.


2003 - 2004 Transition - Wand moved to left tackle, Pitts to left guard, Wade joins team, zone blocking implemented

2004 - Running outside of Wand produced the highest average shown in the table. It increased our ypc outside left by almost a full yard per carry. Running between LT and LG improved a little bit. Our running between the guards increased .75 ypc. Pitts surely had some effect here, but it also appears that McKinney may be a good run blocker in the zone blocking scheme. Runs between Weigert and Wade stayed about the same, but runs outside Wade dropped dramatically. Could the assumption that Wade is an effective run blocker be wrong? Running outside right averaged almost 2 YPC less than outside left.

2004 - 2005 Transition - Texan coaches install a quicker paced offense and re-emphasize their ball control, run oriented offense. They bench Wand who is one of their quickest linemen and seemingly the best run blocker in 2004. Riley plays 4 games at LT, before being replaced by Pitts who plays the final 12 games there. Injuries play a significant role in the season, giving Milford Brown a lot of playing time at LG. McKinney plays most but not full year at center.

2004 - Running outside left drops .7 yards per carry. Running between LT and LG increase .3 ypc. Running between guards increases again. These two increase make it appear Brown is a good run blocker, and it also appears it is indeed true - McKinney is a good run zone blocking center. Running between RG and RT remains consistent again, but running outside right makes a 1.5 ypc improvement. Either Wade found his blocking skills again, or we did well there after Weigert replaced him. The data isn't granular enough to tell. I think Wade's blocking probably improved. For the first year in our history running up the middle was our most effective area.

Other conclusions:

1) Wand should have been given the same opportunity to improve his skills from his first year starting to his second that Pitts had. His pass blocking would have improved, especially if the Texans implemented the same double teaming schemes with Wand/Pitts that they did with Pitts/Brown. If Wand's excellent run blocking had improved even incrementally it would have helped the 2005 offense quite a bit.
2) McKinney seems to be a good zone blocking center for the run.
3) Brown may be a good run blocking guard.
4) I don't know about Wade
5) Weigert is consistent.


So. Judging by the data and not the "common knowledge" of the board, what do you think?
I have seen a lot of data analysis in my time, but this takes the cake. Awesome job. I haven't "studied" your analysis or tried to verify it yet, but it is definitely worth the read.

Some conclusions I took from it:
1) We ran a hell of a lot in 2005, and we were effective all over the field. Too bad we couldn't have had more production time from DD, but I can see where RB would be a benefit.
2)We have improved steadily at running up the middle (agreeing with your second conclusion). This does not help my "need a good center" theory, but you are looking at running offense, not sacks.
3)I like Wand/Pitts even more. As has been said in other threads, the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few...er...we should be looking at the effectiveness of a line side rather than one player (i.e., Pitts is a better tackle than guard, but Wand/Pitts was better than this year's debaclt; however, with a steady set of lineman, who knows?).

Again, well done. If I could give you rep, I would!
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Old 02-08-2006   #3
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Runner, that is some quality stuff brrraaahhhhhh! Appreciate the time and effort.

And now a super smilie
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Old 02-08-2006   #4
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Great post, Runner!

I'll have to chew on the data awhile, but excellent compilation skills. Good food for thought and discussion.
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Old 02-08-2006   #5
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Pitts is NOT a better tackle than guard. He was average at tackle, but has a chance to be a pro bowl guard.

However, this being said a number of situations could present themselves:

If we draft Bush

1. Draft Winston and/or Colledge in 2nd round to play LT
2. Draft Greg Eslinger in the 4th or 5th round to play C
3. Cut McKinney if he does not take a serious salary hit

Winston/Colledge - Pitts - Eslinger - Weigart/McKinney - Wand

If we trade down:

1. Draft D'Brick
2. Draft Greg Eslinger

D'Brick - Pitts - Eslinger - Weigart/McKinney - Wand

Either situation would leave both third round picks (and most likely John Abraham in the trade down scenario) to address needs at DE and MLB.

Could use 4th or 5th rounder depending on where Eslinger is projected on a TE (some good ones will still be available second day)
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Old 02-08-2006   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdiddy
Pitts is NOT a better tackle than guard. He was average at tackle, but has a chance to be a pro bowl guard.
What makes you say that? I don't think Pitts is the long term solution at LT, at least as any kind of top 10 LT, but he has looked better in that position than at LG IMO. Pitts frankly looks better to me when he knows he is going to go one on one with someone. Most of where I see something fail around him is when it is a coordination issue. At G that will always be more of an issue than at T, especially at RT which is where I would like to see him.
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Old 02-09-2006   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdiddy
Pitts is NOT a better tackle than guard. He was average at tackle, but has a chance to be a pro bowl guard.
What?!

I don't know what you've been watching, but from what I've witnessed, I'd have to say that Pitts is definately a better tackle than a guard.
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Old 02-09-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infantrycak
What makes you say that? I don't think Pitts is the long term solution at LT, at least as any kind of top 10 LT, but he has looked better in that position than at LG IMO. Pitts frankly looks better to me when he knows he is going to go one on one with someone. Most of where I see something fail around him is when it is a coordination issue. At G that will always be more of an issue than at T, especially at RT which is where I would like to see him.
I agree with your post. I think Pitts would also benefit from actually knowing where he's going to play rather than being switched around multiple times each year.

Bdiddy, assuming we draft D'Brick or Winston, I would rather have Pitts at RT than Wand or Wade anyday. If we bring in Eslinger (I'd prefer Mangold if we trade down and acquire an extra 2nd or if he falls to the 3rd) then he and Wiegert would be two good interior OLinemen, and we can add another one later in the draft (maybe Will Allen in the 5th-6th) or else between McKinney, Todd Washington, Drew Hodgdon, and Milford Brown I'm sure we can find one serviceable guy there. This would be a much better OLine configuration:

LT Winston/D'Brick
LG Wiegert
C Hodgdon/Mangold
RG Mangold/McKinney/Brown
RT Pitts

If we can add LeCharles Bentley to the mix that would be phenomenal as well.
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Old 02-09-2006   #9
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Default Interesting.

Don't have anything to add other than giving you mad ups for posting a rational, thoughtful post on the Texans football message bored.

Are you sure you put it in the right place????


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Old 02-09-2006   #10
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Time to add the team wide data to this thread and get back on track. I have added more data from the stats page referenced on the original post. Here are some definitions from the stat page:

Quote:
Teams are ranked according to Adjusted Line Yards. Based on regression analysis, the Adjusted Line Yards formula takes all running back carries and assigns responsibility to the offensive line based on the following percentages:
--- 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, and 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, 4.07). These stats are explained further here.

The following stats 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).

Here is my summary table and some comments.

Year---Adj. Line----RB-----Power---Power---10+ ---10+---Stuffed--Stuffed
--------Yards-----Yards---Success--Rank--Yards---Rank-------------Rank
2002----3.10------2.96-----56%-----29-----09%----30------36%-----32
2003----3.68------3.73-----66%-----16-----16%----15------30%-----30
2004----4.14------3.86-----67%-----11-----13%----31------25%-----20
2005----4.43------4.06-----50%-----30-----12%----27------26%-----21

2002 - No comment

2002 - 2003 Transition - No comment.

2003 - We gained another .75 per carry, both adjusted and straight RB. We ranked in the middle of the pack in the league in power success and runs of 10 or longer. We got stuffed at the line a lot.

2003 - 2004 Transition - Wand moved to left tackle, Pitts to left guard, Wade joins team, zone blocking implemented

2004 - Our ypc's went up again. We ranked 11th in the league in power success, which is a necessity for a ball control offense. We fell to 31st in the league in runs of 10+ yards, but improved our stuffed ranking by a third.

2004 - 2005 Transition - Texan coaches install a quicker paced offense and re-emphasize their ball control, run oriented offense. They bench Wand who is one of their quickest linemen and seemingly the best run blocker in 2004. Riley plays 4 games at LT, before being replaced by Pitts who plays the final 12 games there. Injuries play a significant role in the season, giving Milford Brown a lot of playing time at LG. McKinney plays most of but not a full year at center.

2005 - ypc's went up again; if you look at the individual stats at the start of the post this is because of the large increase in success when running to the right, which accounted for the increase AND made up for the drop-off when running left. We plummeted from 11th to 30th in power success - this is bad news for a conservative, ball control offense. Rankings of runs of 10+ yards and stuffed remained stable.


It appears the major change in our running game between the 2004 and 2005 seasons is that we couldn't get yards when they counted most.

Comments?
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Old 02-09-2006   #11
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Nice post Runner.
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Old 02-09-2006   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Runner
It appears the major change in our running game between the 2004 and 2005 seasons is that we couldn't get yards when they counted most.

Comments?

If the other team knows that your passing game is struggling, that you mostly do hitches and your playmaking WR is injured or only getting dink passes, it is gonna be harder to run.

Other than Mathis, 2005 makes me wish I had a brain eraser.
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Old 02-09-2006   #13
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I am hoping that Mathis improves at WR and is able to make a heavy contribution on offense this year. I feel that when in the game, he alone changes things and perhaps, if improved, he could've help win a couple of those close games for us.

I mean look at the game against Jville I believe. He comes in and Carr connects with Johnson on a 53 yrd TD.
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Old 02-09-2006   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by infantrycak
What makes you say that? I don't think Pitts is the long term solution at LT, at least as any kind of top 10 LT, but he has looked better in that position than at LG IMO. Pitts frankly looks better to me when he knows he is going to go one on one with someone. Most of where I see something fail around him is when it is a coordination issue. At G that will always be more of an issue than at T, especially at RT which is where I would like to see him.
I agree. Stats seem to support that Pitts is a better tackle. I would guess the oline will improve if allowed to keep players in set position. Some of the movement was injury related, some was because Riley was a bad choice in F/A and some seemed to be "I don't know what to do now so just move people around and hope something clicks."
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Old 02-09-2006   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meloy
I agree. Stats seem to support that Pitts is a better tackle. I would guess the oline will improve if allowed to keep players in set position. Some of the movement was injury related, some was because Riley was a bad choice in F/A and some seemed to be "I don't know what to do now so just move people around and hope something clicks."
Well, stats also show that Wand is a better run blocker than Pitts at the LT position. In fact, the argument could be made that in the year he started, Wand was the best run blocker the Texans have ever had at any position.

In analyzing the last two years of passing stats, the combination of Wand/Pitts outperforms the combination of Pitts/Brown(McKinney) by a significant margin in sacks allowed. So we have to ask the question - do we want to maximize Pitts' performance, or the performance of the line as a whole?

We have a new coaching staff. Wand and Pitts could both excel in the zone blocking scheme. The new coaching staff could try 2 things to solidify the left side of the line:

1) Work with Wand to improve technique and balance while pass blocking. This is the "coaching" part of the equation that Pendry didn't bring to the table.

2) Teach Pitts how to play the "team game" on the offensive line at the guard position. This is something else that can be coached and taught. It seems silly to say "make Pitts a tackle because he doesn't understand how to play guard".

If this worked we would be set on the left side of the line for years to come with two young, durable players. Pitts is a proven performer, and Wand has the speed, quickness, and athleticism to excel in the Denver scheme. At the very least Wand could be moved to right tackle.

This leaves o-line money to shore up the center and right tackle position in draft and free agency. If we used Wand and Pitts at the tackles we would need to reinforce the center of the line a bit more. We could also then draft for o-line depth.
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Old 02-09-2006   #16
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Nice work! Hopefully the new coaches will have the same opinion about Wand/Pitts on the left side after they review all the data and stats from the previous seasons and not allow "power plays" over rule what is best for the team.
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Old 02-09-2006   #17
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I am of the opinion that Pitts should stay at LT and Wand be moved to RT then something should be done to shore up the interior. It does no good to have a lopsided line the talent should be distributed evenly. Wand and Pitts have both shown they could play Tackle and should get the opportunity.
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Old 02-09-2006   #18
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Originally Posted by dat_boy_yec
I am of the opinion that Pitts should stay at LT and Wand be moved to RT then something should be done to shore up the interior. It does no good to have a lopsided line the talent should be distributed evenly. Wand and Pitts have both shown they could play Tackle and should get the opportunity.
That's not a bad option either. I'd probably flip the sides they are on though.

Training camp will be fun this year - real practices with actual talent evaluation.
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Old 02-10-2006   #19
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Runner, this is a nice piece of statistical work.

You know these coaches have stats like this and a dozen lackeys to summarize these numbers for them. Assuming Pendry is an ultracompetive guy and he knows his job is on the line, why would he bench Wand?

What are we missing here?
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Old 02-10-2006   #20
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Runner, this is a nice piece of statistical work.

You know these coaches have stats like this and a dozen lackeys to summarize these numbers for them. Assuming Pendry is an ultracompetive guy and he knows his job is on the line, why would he bench Wand?

What are we missing here?
I think you'd have to check your assumptions on Pendry. First thing I would check is if he has any competence in the modern game.

If he is "ultracompetive", maybe his utlracompetiveness is manifested in his "my way or the highway" attitude rather than fielding a winning team.

Or maybe we're all wet and we had a fine coaching staff who did as good with the material they had as possible, and no one could have done better.
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