Judging the Line

It is universally agreed upon that the Colts’ offensive line isn’t very good in general and that it has been a mess this preseason.  Most of us are using the eye test to make that judgement.  As we know, our eyes can deceive us.  Today, let’s compare how the line has performed through two preseason games and compare that to the first two preseason games over the past five years.  There’s no one stat that accurately tells us how an offensive line performed, so we’ll rely on five:  points/drives, rushing yards/carry, sacks, QB YPA, and penalties.  I’m only going to judge drives where Peyton Manning played QB.

2010 (Games 1 and 2, Manning drives)

Points Drives P/D Rush Carry YPC Sacks Pass Attempt YPA Penalties
24 7 3.4 45 10 4.5 0 166 24 6.9 2

Other than Manning’s YPA being down a little, those are pretty solid numbers from the Colts.  How do they compare to previous games 1 and 2 of the preseason going back to 2004?

2004-2009* (Games 1 and 2, Manning drives)

Points Drives P/D Rush Carry YPC Sacks Pass Attempt YPA Penalties
59 25 2.4 189 51 3.7 5 650 74 8.8 6

*Manning did not play in the 2008 preseason.  That year has been left out.

We tend to forget things like the four sacks sacks in two games last season.  The fact is that through two preseason games, the offensive has performed about as well as the offensive always performs.  Granted, the sample size is incredibly small and affected by things like field position, but it should give everyone a little comfort to see these numbers.

I’ve been saying for awhile now that I doubt how much impact offensive line play really has for a team like the Colts.  Given the mishmashed collection of second strigners that have been playing thus far for the Colts, I can’t see what more could be asked of them.  They may not look pretty, and it can be argued that we see a reticence by Manning to go deep based on the low YPA number. However, the 8.8 number (for 2004-2009) is heavily influenced by one 76 yard touchdown from Manning to Wayne.  That single play raised the 2004-2009 YPA by a full yard.  The sack rate is lower this year. The penalties per drive rate is basically the same.  The yards per carry is actually up.

The 2010 line may or may not have played as well as previous preseason Colts lines…

but from a look at the stat sheet, you’d never know it.

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