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Isolating the Effect of Individual Linemen on the Passing Game in the National Football League
Citation Information: Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. Volume 4, Issue 2, ISSN (Online) 1559-0410, DOI: 10.2202/1559-0410.1113, April 2008
- Published Online:
Protecting the quarterback is an integral part of the passing game in the National Football league, yet the relationship between the abilities of an individual lineman and the effectiveness of a passing game remains unexplored. One of the principal reasons for this lack of study is the absence of publicly available data that is needed in order to track the performance of a specific lineman. In order to create the relevant data, the first 3 games of the 2007 NFL season for seven different teams were charted. The performance of each lineman was recorded on every pass play, as well as the amount of undisturbed time the quarterback was given (time in the pocket) to make a throw. These data were used in a series of regressions to determine how likely a lineman was to successfully hold his block in relation to the time it took for the quarterback to throw the ball, for each lineman in the sample. These data were also used to estimate the correlation between successful blocking and completion rate. The results of these regressions were then used to simulate the effects that different linemen have on the passing game. The trade in the offseason between the New York Jets and Washington Redskins which sent left guard Pete Kendall to Washington was examined. The analysis finds that the Jets lost approximately 3 percentage points on their completion rate due to the trade.