2007 Offensive Hog Index

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Dec 30, 2007



The Offensive Hog Index is our effort to quantify which team has the best offensive line in football.
 
This isn't rocket science, folks. The Offensive Hog Index simply looks at at each team in three major, easy-to-understand categories and ranks them by average in these categories.
 
The top offensive line is that which posts the highest average rating across the board. See the footnotes after the rankings chart for details about each category. 
 
Final 2007 Season Overview
 
The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't send any of their offensive linemen to the Pro Bowl, and this was a pretty clear oversight -- they end the season tied for the mighty New England front at the top of our Offensive Hog Index.
 
The Jags climbed steadily up this list, from outside the top 10 early in the season to their final perch. 
 
Jacksonville's line, like New England's, was built fairly cheaply and is mostly home grown. Left tackle Khalif Barnes was a No. 2 pick in 2006, left guard Vince Manuwai a third-rounder in 2003 and center Brad Meester was a second rounder in 2000. Right guard Dennis Norman and right tackle Tony Pashos were both unheralded FA pickups that worked out perfectly.
 
Manuwai is the star of the line, for sure. According to the SI.com offensive line stats, the Jaguars ran up the middle more than any other team in the NFL -- by a longshot. The Jaguars ran 303 times up the gut, 90 more than No. 2 Tennessee and double the NFL average.

Despite this predictable behavior, no one could stop the Jags from running inside. They averaged 4.6 a carry, trailing only Minnesota, and well ahead of No. 3 Tampa
 
If we had a vote for the "Top Hog" award honoring the best offensive lineman, we'd cast it for Manuwai.
 
But the Patriots' offensive line as a unit was the yin to Jacksonville's yang, an incredible pass blocking team that had the fewest Negative Pass Plays in the NFL (4.86).
 
Patriots fans have a love-hate relationship with left tackle Matt Light, but the proof is in the pudding there. Light anchored the best pass blocking in the league, and the Patriots were third in the league with a 5.0 per carry average to the left. Light and Logan Mankins deserve their Pro Bowl spots for sure.
 
Rounding out the top five were Cleveland, Green Bay and Indianapolis. The Packers' offensive line is actually playing better than any unit in the league right now. Over the first month of the season, they ranked dead last in yards per carry, but have climbed all the way to 12th at 4.12 a tote. And Brett Favre has only been sacked twice in the last eight games (although he has thrown seven INTs over that span).
 
Falling out of the top five thanks to its shoddy Week 17 performance is Dallas.
 
At the bottom of the charts are Kansas City and Chicago, who have left little doubt as to why they both fell from the playoff mix after making it in 2007. The Bears in particular were undone by their offensive line, since they played quite well on defense and special teams. Their QBs got the blame, but it was their horrible O-line that deserves it.
 
Kansas City's struggles are well documented here, and it was no surprise that offensive line coach John Matsko was fired.
 
The only playoff team in the bottom 10 of the Index is Seattle, which ended up tied with Arizona for 23rd overall. The NFC West was a wasteleand of offensive lines, with all four teams finishing in the bottom 10.
 
The best offensive Hogs were in the NFC East, with three of the top 10 + Washington a respectable 16th.
 
FINAL 2007 OFFENSIVE HOG INDEX
 
Team
Yards per rush attempt
rank
Negative Pass Play %
rank
Success on 3rd down
rank
AVG
1t
New England
4.10
14
4.86
1
48.2
2
5.67
1t
Jacksonville
4.58
3
7.80
8
45.7
6
5.67
3
Cleveland
4.31
6
6.91
6
42.2
10
7.33
4
Green Bay
4.12
12
5.70
3
42.6
8
7.67
5
Indianapolis
3.83
22
6.45
5
49.3
1
9.33
6t
Dallas
4.17
9
7.91
12
42.2
10
10.33
6t
NY Giants
4.58
4
8.40
15
41.6
12
10.33
8
New Orleans
3.74
28
5.09
2
46.3
4
10.67
9
Philadelphia
4.69
2
10.39
23
42.4
9
11.33
10t
Cincinnati
3.74
28
6.25
4
46.2
5
12.33
10t
Denver
4.56
5
8.59
17
40.4
15
12.33
10t
San Diego
4.20
8
8.09
13
39.3
16
12.33
13
Houston
3.80
24
7.80
8
44.6
7
13
14t
Pittsburgh
4.24
7
12.47
30
46.8
3
13.33
14t
Tampa Bay
4.17
9
8.37
14
38.5
17
13.33
16
Washington
3.76
27
7.22
7
40.7
14
16
17
Minnesota
5.33
1
11.3
25
34.5
27
17.67
18t
Tennessee
3.88
21
9.51
20
41.0
13
18
18t
Baltimore
4.03
16
8.89
18
38.5
18
18
20
Miami
4.03
16
9.67
21
37.2
20
19
21
Carolina
4.04
15
9.29
19
36.2
25
19.67
22
Arizona
3.58
30
7.82
10
36.9
22
20.67
23t
Atlanta
3.95
20
10.30
22
37.1
21
21
23t
Seattle
3.77
26
7.83
11
35.0
26
21
25
Oakland
4.11
13
12.40
29
36.4
23
21.67
26
Buffalo
4.02
18
8.49
16
33.3
30
22
27t
NY Jets
3.81
23
12.74
32
37.6
19
24.67
27t
San Francisco
4.14
11
12.68
31
31.4
32
24.67
29
Detroit
3.98
19
11.87
26
32.6
31
25.33
30
St. Louis
3.78
25
12.22
28
36.3
24
25.67
31
Chicago
3.14
32
10.46
24
34.0
29
28.33
32
Kansas City
3.26
31
12.14
27
34.1
28
28.67
 
YPAYards Per Carry. So simple, even you can understand it. This rates an offensive line's ability to open up holes for the ground game. Number in parenthesis is the team's rank (decimal values indicate a tie).
 
NPP%Negative Pass Plays, expressed as a percentage. This is how often pass plays end in either a sack or interception. All things being equal, a bad quarterback will take more sacks and throw more interceptions than a good quarterback. So, in this system, playing with a bad quarterback will harm an offensive line's ranking. But it's also true that a bad OL makes for a bad quarterback. Poor protection naturally leads to an increase in sacks and INTs. These negative pass plays are calculated as a percentage. So if a team allows two sacks and throws two INTs in 40 pass plays, their NPP% will be 10 percent (4/40).
 
3down% - Success ratio on third down. A team's offensive line is tested here -- defenses are blitzing on long yardage, stacking on short yardage, and generally putting the opposing beef to the test. The math is simple: how often did the O-line help its team pick up a first down on third-and-whatever?
 
INDEX Avg. - The average ranking in the team's Hog Index categories. 
 
Editor's Note: The Hog Index formula has been going through a tinkering process since its alcohol-fueled inception in 2006, and going forward it will be based on these categories: Negative Pass Plays (per QB dropback), Yards per Rush, and Third-Down Conversion percentage. It had included time of possession, but we've concluded through our own research and feedback from astute readers that the stat was too dependent on the team's defense (or lack of it). 

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