FanPost

How to Judge an O-line



I remember posting this last summer. I never got an answer I was happy with. So here I'll make some concrete suggestions.

There is lots of talk (AKA hot air) about the O-line. Part of the reason this goes on and on is that we don't really know how to judge what we have. It's easy to say, "It's the preseason" or "if he had just" or "only a couple of times."

PFF grades have the illusion of objectivity but are nothing of the kind.

Expectations are part of the difference. Some of us are jumping up and down for joy because we think our O-line looks like it may be only in the third quartile (bottom 50%) instead of the fourth quartile (bottom 25%) for the league. Others actually think that our O-line is going to go from historically bad to one of the better ones in the league.

Here's my suggestion: how about, every game this season, we as a BtB board try to evaluate frankly exactly how good/ bad our O-line is compared to the O-line of other teams. No excuses; no exceptions (e.g., we don't get a pass if someone is injured or playing hurt). This would have a couple of components:

1. Compare PFF grades for every position, for that week, against the other 31 teams. (Feel free to make rude comments about the PFF graders.) Anybody who subscribes to PFF can give us the quick rundown of where we rank at each position (best out of 32, worst out of 32, or somewhere in between).

2. Compare raw stats, against the other 31 teams, in two categories: YPC for the running game, number of sacks/ hits/ pressures per passing attempt for the passing game. I can hunt down this info, though some of you are a little better at massaging the numbers. (Feel free to make side comments about the comparative quality of defenses that the different teams are facing.)

3. Argue loudly that a) Romodini makes this line look better because of his spin moves, and b) Romodini makes this line look worse because he holds onto the ball. Call it a wash.

4. Factor in the opinions of anybody who really watches the O-line play carefully (LongBall, MusicCity, and others) IF AND ONLY IF they make some reference to other teams, among the 32, whose O-line looked better/ worse than the Cowboys'. Otherwise even the most expert analysis tends to degenerate into "could have been better" and "could have been worse" without really considering how many guards out there AREN'T giving up sacks. But if you really watch more than one O-line, and have a reasoned opinion that one looked better despite what categories #1 and #2 would suggest, please feel free to chime in and make your case.

5. Come up with a number (out of 32) for that game. If we have a bad game, but so do a lot of other teams, we may rank as one of the better O-lines. If we open up holes, but so do a lot of other teams, we may rank as one of the worse O-lines.

6. After 16 games, take this number and compare it to what we expected at the beginning of the year. Is this still a work in progress? Is it emerging as one of our least problematic units?

I have two questions at this point:

1. Does this seem like a reasonable methodology? Is anybody interested in following it this season? Does anybody have any suggestions for improving the methodology?

2. If we were to follow this methodology, what do you predict for the Cowboys? Do you think we will be a top-5 O-line this season? Do you think we will rank somewhere just below 50%? Do you think we will stink it up again, but win most of our games on the strength of non-O-line related strengths, such as Dez, Ware, and Bruce Lee?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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