I've been wanting to do some analysis on out offensive line for a while but I haven't been able to come up with an effective way to do it. My first hurdle was finding O line stats to toy with. After a long look a found stats.com(obscure name, i know) which actually provides them. The only real stat that O liners get recorded is their sacks allowed, so that's what I'll run with.
Im going to presume our starting lineup looks something like this come first snap.
|Left Tackle||Branden Albert|
|Left Guard||Brian Waters|
|Right Guard||Mike Goff|
|Right Tackle||Damion McIntosh||
I'm least confident at center since we signed Eric Ghiaciuc.
Now, last season our offensive line allowed 37 sacks. If we take the sack totals for each of the players I just listed, we get
Albert 4.5 Waters 1 Niswanger 3.5 Goff 4.5 Mclintosh 7
Trade Niswanger for Ghiaciuc and he had 4.
That totals to 20.5 which is not too bad. our backups and happenstance would have to allow for another 17 sacks to surpass last year's sacks allowed total. That lineup is only one player different that last year's line, with Goff as the only switch. In looking at Goff's stats I found something interesting: last year he allowed 4 sacks but in the previous three combined he only allowed 0.5. only three times in 11 years did he allow more than 2 sacks. Given this, it is not unreasonable to suspect he will give up less sacks that that this year. Sure he's a year older but lineman get better with age(IMO). Albert was a stud in college and had a respectable rookie season. He allowed 4.5 sacks last year and should get better this year. If he develops as he should then watch for his sack total to go down as well. Waters allowed one which is high for him. Looks like he's back so we'll skip to Mclintosh. Mclintosh allowed 7 sacks. That accounts for over a third of the sacks allowed by those starting five based on last years totals. He is blantantly the weakest element on the line. Our sacks allowed was not that bad compared to the rest of the league but our unit benefitted from a very mobile Thigpen behind them.
In looking at this i've come away with the following points:
Goff was a good pickup and will ease the load on his peers.
Waters MUST be retained.
Center should see healthy competition for the starting job. Ghiaciuc and Niswanger are clones: same size, similar performance. see if one fits with the unit better.
Albert has to develop
Mclintosh must be replaced. I would toss Colin Brown in with the 1st team in practices just to see what he's got. It's hard to believe he could be any worse. His size alone presents a hurdle for his opponent.
Not having a star ball catcher at TE may well be a good thing. A consistent blocking TE can't hurt the line, especially lined up next to what is now our weakest spot at RT.
The line will be better. I dont think it will be a drastic improvement but I think it will be enough to keep Cassel from being the most sacked QB in football.
The chiefs will be better. with even a modestly better line Cassel will have more time that Thigpen did last year. Cassel was sacked 47 times last year and still put up very good numbers. Being on the ground less should help his numbers go up further.