NFL pass protection rankings: Why the Bucs and Patriots have league’s best O-lines – The Athletic

Who’s got your quarterback’s back? And who’s getting your quarterback pummeled?

Even through a six-week NFL sample size, it’s mostly apparent that the team that protects the quarterback the best wins the most games.

I emphasize mostly.

I took a dive, with the massive assistance of TruMedia, into how every NFL team’s offensive line has performed in terms of quarterback pressures and sacks allowed. I focused mainly on pressure percentage for teams and individuals as a determining factor in who’s protecting or not protecting their respective quarterback well.

(Glossary: PRSR% — pressure percentage allowed; SK PER PRSR% — Rate at which pressure turns into a sack; PRSRS — total pressures allowed.)

League ranks are in parenthesis.

team Prsr% Sk per Prsr% Prsrs sacks
50.0 (32)
26.7 (28)
86 (25)
16 (29)
46.6 (31)
19.6 (18)
97 (31)
19 (32)
42.2 (30)
19.4 (17)
62 (7)
9 (11)
38.3 (29)
16.3 (12)
92 (29)
10 (14)
36.5 (28)
7.1 (1)
99 (32)
7 (6)
36.5 (27)
11.8 (4)
93 (30)
9 (11)
36.0 (26)
15.6 (9)
90 (27)
16 (29)
33.7 (25)
15.7 (11)
70 (18)
11 (17)
33.5 (24)
26.2 (27)
84 (24)
15 (26)
33.5 (23)
25.8 (26)
89 (26)
17 (30)
33.0 (22)
20.3 (19)
59 (6)
11 (17)
32.8 (21)
10.8 (2)
65 (13)
6 (2)
32.8 (20)
14.1 (6)
64 (9)
7 (6)
32.7 (19)
23.1 (25)
91 (28)
16 (29)
32.4 (18)
14.1 (7)
78 (21)
12 (21)
31.9 (17)
20.9 (21)
67 (15)
12 (21)
31.9 (16)
18.5 (14)
65 (13)
13 (24)
31.5 (15)
26.9 (29)
52 (2)
10 (14)
31.3 (14)
27.8 (30)
72 (19)
15 (26)
30.8 (13)
21.7 (22)
69 (17)
9 (11)
30.4 (12)
15.3 (8)
59 (6)
8 (7)
29.4 (11)
23.1 (25)
65 (13)
12 (21)
29.4 (10)
15.6 (10)
64 (12)
9 (11)
29.2 (9)
11.1 (3)
81 (23)
6 (2)
29.2 (8)
19.1 (15)
68 (16)
12 (21)
29.0 (7)
13.8 (5)
65 (13)
7 (6)
28.8 (6)
32.2 (32)
59 (6)
13 (24)
28.7 (5)
17.3 (13)
81 (23)
13 (24)
28.6 (4)
22.4 (23)
67 (15)
10 (14)
28.0 (3)
29.7 (31)
74 (20)
19 (32)
27.3 (2)
20.8 (20)
53 (3)
11 (17)
18.4 (1)
19.1 (16)
47 (1)
7 (6)

Tom Brady infamously chewed out his offensive line on the sideline during the Bucs’ Week 6 loss to the Steelers. But even amid some significant renovations, Tampa Bay’s front five has allowed the lowest pressure rate in the NFL through Week 6.

Now how much does that have to do with the linemen and how much does that have to do with Brady’s ability to unload the football quickly? Given Brady’s outburst, he might point to himself as the reason for the low pressure percentage. The Bucs quarterback yields the fastest “time to throw” rate in the NFL at 2.24 seconds from snap to pass.

That said, right tackle Tristan Wirfs continues to be one of the best of any offensive line slot in pressure percentage allowed. He ranks No. 1 among tackles and No. 7 among all offensive linemen. Conversely, rookie Luke Goedeke ranks among the bottom-10 guards in pressure percentage allowed.

Both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe have had a cleaner pocket than most quarterbacks. Jones averages 2.57 seconds to throw, while Zappe averages 2.75 seconds. Zappe’s average is the seventh fastest among qualified quarterbacks (min. 60 dropbacks) so New England’s offensive line deserves plenty of credit.

Guard Mike Onwenu has been outstanding in pass protection, ranking as the top player at his position in pressure rate allowed. Onwenu carried a 3.4-percent pressure rate last season, so his progress is significant.

But Trent Brown’s numbers have to be alarming. He only surrendered one sack last season and held a 3.8 percent pressure rate. His numbers have skyrocketed through only six games in 2022.

The Bengals seem like a total contradiction. They lead the league in sacks allowed. And yet they’re the third-best team in terms of pressure percentage allowed? And Joe Burrow unloads the football at the fourth-fastest rate in the league at 2.43 seconds? The sack-per-pressure rate probably tells more of the story. If Burrow receives pressure, he’s more likely than just about any other quarterback to absorb a sack.

Left tackle Jonah Williams, the only starter remaining from last season, still seems like the sore spot along the front five with a below-average pressure rate allowed. He’s also tied for second in terms of most sacks allowed.

On the plus side, guard Alex Cappa and tackle La’el Collins hold above-average pressure rates and guard Cordell Volson holds a nearly average rate. Those results are far better than what Burrow and the Bengals had to put up with last season.

Bottom 3 overall units

This is rightfully a storyline for the Bears. But where do you point the blame?

Rookie fifth-round tackle Braxton Jones has struggled in his trial by fire, ranking among the bottom-10 tackles in the NFL in pressure rate allowed. Veteran guard Lucas Patrick has watched his pressure percentage launch from 3.3 percent last season to 6.8 percent in 2022. But fellow tackle Larry Borom ranks among the 10 best tackles in terms of pressure rate allowed.

Quarterback Justin Fields holds the league’s second-longest time-to-throw average at 2.95 seconds. So how much pressure does he invite on himself?

It’s pretty remarkable the Giants rank this low and yet are 5-1.

Rookie first-round tackle Evan Neal is the eyesore of the group. He ranks among the league’s bottom-10 tackles in pressure percentage allowed. Veteran guard Mark Glowinski has actually improved from an 8.1 percent pressure rate last season in Indianapolis. Still, his 5.9 percent rate is well below league average (4.4%). Fellow guard Ben Bredeson, though, ranks among the top-10 guards in pressure rate.

Quarterback Daniel Jones is much like Fields in holding the ball longer than most passers. Jones’ 2.91-second time-to-throw average is the fifth-slowest clip among quarterbacks.

Guard Aaron Brewer hasn’t been a whole lot better. He ranks among the bottom-10 guards in pressure rate. His percentage has jumped in each of his last two seasons: 3.5 percent in 2020, 5.7 percent in 2021 and 8.1 percent in 2022.

Ryan Tannehill doesn’t hold the ball too long, ranking 21st in terms of fastest average time to throw (2.62).

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No surprise to see the Eagles’ Lane Johnson atop this list. His rate was among the league’s best last year at 1.8 percent. The Bills’ Dion Dawkins has watched his pressure rate improve over the past three seasons: 5.1 percent in 2020, 3.2 percent in 2021 and 2.2 percent in 2022. The Texans’ Laremy Tunsil has the best rate of his career through six games. He finished 2020 with a 2.4 percent rate.

The Chargers’ Rashawn Slater was off to a very good start, improving on his 3.6 percent rate in 2021. But Slater is out for the year with a biceps injury. The Browns’ Jack Conklin and the Falcons’ Jake Matthews are playing up to their reputation. But the Falcons’ Kaleb McGary and the Jaguars’ Jawaan Taylor are on the rise. McGary produced a 6.1 percent rate last season. Taylor’s rates the past three seasons: 8.0 percent in 2020, 4.8 percent in 2021 and 3.2 percent in 2022.

Teams are attacking the Dolphins’ Greg Little with Terron Armstead on the left side. There’s been quite at dropoff from Andrew Whitworth to Joe Noteboom as the Rams’ left tackle. And now Noteboom is out for the season with an Achilles injury. Having two Jets among the bottom-10 tackles can’t be encouraging with George Fant and Max Mitchell on the list. But hey, they’re 4-2!

The Lions’ Taylor Decker has dipped the last couple of seasons: 3.9 percent in 2020, 5.2 percent in 2021 and 7.5 percent in 2022. The Chiefs’ Andrew Wylie is actually improved from an 8.5 percent rate last season.

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The Eagles have to be thrilled with Landon Dickerson’s development in Year 2. Last season, Dickerson yielded a 6.1 percent rate. Inside pressure doesn’t seem to be the issue in Pittsburgh with Kevin Dotson and James Daniels each ranking among the top 10.

The Saints’ Cesar Ruiz has improved the past few seasons: 6.3 percent in 2020, 4.3 percent in 2021 and 1.8 percent in 2022. A steady uptick for the Packers’ Jon Runyan as well: 3.8 percent in 2020, 3.0 percent in 2021 and 1.9 percent in 2022. The Seahawks’ Damien Lewis has improved by three percentage points in 2022 after posting a 4.9 percent rate in 2021.

Bottom 10

The Cowboys’ Matt Farniok holds the dubious distinction of the worst qualified lineman at any position in terms pressure percentage. He’s typically a reserve, though, so he shouldn’t be a detriment every week. Bobby Evans’ rough Week 4 outing (12.5 rate) didn’t help, but he bounced back in Week 6 with a solid 2.9 percent rate against the Panthers.

It’s becoming a slippery slope for the Seahawks’ Gabe Jackson: 3.3 percent in 2019, 4.0 percent in 2020, 5.7 percent in 2021 and 8.8 percent in 2022. A tough start for three rookies on this list: the Bucs’ Goedeke, the Vikings’ Ed Ingram and the Texans’ Kenyon Green.

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The 49ers’ Jake Brendel has to be a pleasant surprise given he’s replacing perennial Pro Bowler Alex Mack, who retired after last season. And the Eagles’ Jason Kelce went from average to superb after posting a 3.0 percent rate in 2021.

Bottom 5

Brian Allen is typically the Rams’ starting center, but he’s been sidelined with a knee injury. Los Angeles likely hopes he’ll return soon since a 10 percent rate for a center is almost unheard of, in a negative way.

(Photo: Jim Dedmon / USA Today)

This content was originally published here.

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