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The Denver Broncos pass blocking was horrendous in 2017

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Just how bad was it? It was about as bad as it could get.

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NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

ProFootballFocus.com has a Premium Stats category called PBE, pass blocking efficiency, which basically looks at total pressures allowed and total pass blocking snaps and gives a score out of a 100 with 100 being absolutely perfect. I will be using a rate stat to get a value in terms of pass blocking snaps per pressure allowed. The higher that number is, the better. I will do this for the every team as the data is available on PFF to manipulate and then I will be doing this for individual players and showing how our offensive lineman compared to others at their positions.

So let’s see how the Denver Broncos offensive line stacked up last season as a whole. From the PFF PBE table, the Broncos were 30th overall in 2017. If we do this as a rate stat, the Broncos were 29th (see table below).

Rank Team Passing Plays Total Pressure Allowed PB snaps/pressure allowed
1 NO 559 110 5.08
2 BUF 569 124 4.59
3 OAK 592 133 4.45
3 TEN 553 126 4.39
5 BLT 596 138 4.32
6 MIA 646 153 4.22
7 PHI 636 154 4.13
8 PIT 619 151 4.10
9 TB 677 169 4.01
10 KC 616 155 3.97
11 ATL 568 148 3.84
12 JAX 575 151 3.81
13 SF 667 179 3.73
14 MIN 572 154 3.71
15 LA 551 151 3.65
16 DAL 555 153 3.63
17 NYG 650 180 3.61
17 GB 651 181 3.60
19 CIN 562 158 3.56
19 CLV 679 191 3.55
19 CHI 536 152 3.53
22 CAR 564 161 3.50
23 NE 628 186 3.38
24 WAS 606 181 3.35
25 NYJ 577 177 3.26
26 LAC 602 188 3.20
27 IND 581 182 3.19
27 DET 633 199 3.18
29 DEN 655 207 3.16
30 SEA 653 209 3.12
31 ARZ 664 217 3.06
32 HST 602 253 2.38

Notice that New Orleans Saints were a step above every other offensive line in 2017 and the Houston Texans were a step below. The total range was 2.70 with the best being 5.08 and the worst being 2.38. When the range is greater than the minimum value you have yourself an interesting data set. The other interesting thing is that the team data does track with veteran/established quarterbacks all getting their offensive lines to the top of this list.

The Saints obviously have an elite, future Hall of Fame quarterback to help their numbers, but the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins were all playing with either young replaceable quarterbacks or with an actual replacement quarterback.

The best PBE that any individual player obtained (with 25% or more of their team’s pass blocking snaps) was Rodney Hudson with a score of 99.6. How did that translate to this rate stat? Hudson allowed three pressures all season in 592 pass blocking snaps or one pressure every 197.3 PB snap. That was the best in the league and, of course, the best among centers in 2017. You can see how Matt Paradis compared in the table below.

OL Off. Snaps PB snaps Sacks Hits Hurries Total Pressures Allowed PB Snaps/Pressure Allowed
Cyrus Kouandjio 72 42 0 0 1 1 42.0
Matt Paradis 1127 655 0 4 12 16 40.9
Ronald Leary 711 425 2 3 9 14 30.4
Connor McGovern 418 231 1 3 12 16 14.4
Max Garcia 869 503 4 4 26 34 14.8
Garrett Bolles 1106 650 8 10 33 51 12.7
Allen Barbre 552 329 4 1 21 26 12.7
Menelik Watson 447 252 9 3 14 26 9.7
Donald Stephenson 303 156 3 3 13 19 8.2
Billy Turner 46 34 1 0 3 4 8.5

Cyrus Kouandjio did very well in the one game he started for for Denver (admittedly against the pitiful Kansas City Chiefs’ pass rush). Kouandjio did not have 25% of the teams PB snaps so he didn’t qualify, but among qualifiers David Bakhtiari was the best in the league with a 37.9 PB snap/pressure value. Breno Giacomini of the Texans was dead last (81st) with a 7.4.

Garett Bolles was 52nd, Menelik Watson was 76th, and Allen Barbre was 68th in the 191 pass block snaps that he took at tackle for the Broncos in 2017. Donald Stephenson was just below the 25% threshold, but had he qualified he would have been near the bottom with his value of 8.2. Only Rees Odhiambo (8.4), Michael Schofield (8.4), Zane Beadles (7.9) and Giacomini were close to his level of ineptitude.

It’s disturbing that as bad as Watson was at pass blocking, he was better than the now-retired Stephenson. Matt Paradis was 11th among centers and the Broncos three qualifying guards ranked this way: Ronald Leary 15th, Max Garcia 65th, Connor McGovern 67th out of 79. Former Broncos lineman Ben Garland was dead last (79th) among guards with a value of 10.7.

From a pass blocking effectiveness standpoint, Denver only had one player in the top quartile of the league at his position, Ronald Leary. Paradis was a little above average and everyone else, with the exception of the Kouandijo, was below average at pass protection from these numbers.

I would be remiss if I did not point out just how bad the Broncos three starting quarterbacks from 2017 were at helping the offensive line. Trevor Siemian had all of the pocket awareness of a deaf mole rat. Brock Osweiler would consistently hold on to the ball too long and Paxton Lynch would take off running after the count of two when his primary receiver was covered. I have no doubt that the numbers for the 2017 offensive line would have looked much better with a veteran quarterback like Case Keenum taking the snaps.

These numbers do go a long way to explain why Barbre and Stephenson were let go and why Watson is now fighting for playing time at guard.

Poll

In terms of pass blocking snaps per pressure where will the 2018 offensive line rank?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Top 8 in the league
    (23 votes)
  • 35%
    9-16
    (247 votes)
  • 48%
    17-23
    (332 votes)
  • 12%
    24-32 (essentially where ranked in 2017)
    (88 votes)
690 votes total Vote Now