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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

OLR Week 8: London Ballin'

Like much of TPL this week, we'll be focusing on the London game with our OLR analysis from week 8. Luckily for us, it just so happens that one of the offensive lines that played in London had a pretty damn good day, and find themselves at the top of OLR table for the week.

I don't think it's any surprise that the Rams aren't that OL. No, this week's OLR winners are the New England Patriots.

Clearly the long distance trip wasn't too much for them. And the fact that they were without Logan Mankins for the day wasn't a big issue. And the horrible second half weather in London that started shredding the pitch didn't matter.

The Patriots were dominant, much as the 45-7 score suggests.

From about 10 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter onwards there was only really one winner in this game. Tom Brady had a hot hand, Ridley and Vereen were running well, and the defense was, aside from allowing Chris Givens to beat them deep once, shutting down all the Rams offensive options. The offensive line was of course a massive part of their success, keeping Brady practically untouched against a Rams D that had recorded 21 sacks in 7 games, as well as powering the run game to 5.4 YPC, a TD apiece for Ridley and Vereen, and 9 rushing first downs. Perhaps the only negative mark against the Patriots was their negative runs. On a number of occasions the Rams run blitz worked well enough to nail the Pats RB deep in the backfield, a loss of 7 on one Vereen run, a loss of 4 when they were on the Rams 6 yard line with Ridley carrying the ball. Indeed, the Pats score would've been even higher were it not for the fact that a number of times in Goal-to-go yardage they took 2-4 carries to punch the ball in.

But this is just critiquing for the sake of it, truth be told the Patriots were superior in all phases of the game, and the Offensive Line were no exception. Whilst watching the game it was clear the Patriots would be high, and looking at the numbers they're clearly number 1 this week.

What is more surprising from the Wembley game, however, is that the Rams OL find themselves at #10 in our adjusted ranking for week 8. When a team scores only once in the game, and even that was a 50 yard bomb, I don't hold out all that much hope for their OLR score. Add that to the sacks that Sam Bradford took and the lackluster running game and it seems impossible the Rams can rank this high. It's not even like the Patriots defense is that good, so we can't blame defensive adjustment for their ranking.

Instead, we need to look at the numbers.

Whilst Bradford took some very memorable hits during the game, including the one where he was driven to the ground and knocked out of the game for a few minutes, and the sack he tried to avoid and eventually lost 17 yards on, there were actually very few occasions that the Patriots pass rush got to him. The times they did get there just stood out.

The numbers for the running game weren't actually that bad either, even if in real terms it was ineffective. The Rams had only 1 negative rush all game, and that one is attributed to Johnny Hekker after he fumbled the hold on the FG attempt inside the 1st half 2 minute warning. They had 7 rushing 1st downs in the game too, and finished with a YPC of 4.7, admittedly both bolstered by the garbage time running of Isaiah Pead, but numbers that are definitely attributable to the OLR score.

The Patriots OL completely neutralised the Rams pass rush threat (P: Mark Fletcher)

In all, the Patriots OL should be given a lot of credit for their win in London. Of course, Brady will take much of the plaudits for his 4 TDs, but had Chris Long and Robert Quinn been in his face all day, his stat line would've looked pretty different. As for St Louis, there aren't many positives to take away from the game, and even their OLR score will be marred by injuries to LT Joe Barksdale and RT Barry Richardson. Both teams will welcome their week 9 bye, one for a chance to take a break, and one because they need some serious work.

- Phil Gaskin (@sosayitisaid)
- The Pulling Linemen

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