Point of attack: Jets run blocking
The New York Jets went into 2008 with the NFL's most-talked-about offensive line.
They added one of the marquee players of last year's free agency class, left guard Alan Faneca, and another accomplished grunt in right tackle Damien Woody. That gave them a unit with four first-round picks, including an emerging star at center.
KC Joyner, the Bill James disciple who tries to bring statistical analysis to positions that traditionally have gone without, has graded out the run-blocking performances of every AFC East offensive lineman. The research will be included in his upcoming book, Scientific Football 2009.
In the accompanying chart, Joyner breaks down each lineman's performance by net point-of-attack attempts (plays in which he was at the point of attack plus penalties committed and drawn), yards gained on these plays and his blocking success rate.
Joyner considers an 80 percent success rate to be tolerable. All five of the Jets' offensive linemen graded out at 85 percent or higher. Four of them were involved in plays that gained at least 844 rushing yards while blocking at the point of attack.
At 94.3 percent, Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold had the highest POA success rate of any AFC East lineman. He lost only five POA blocks. The division's other three centers lost an average of 16.7 POA blocks.
Joyner tracks the number of times a lineman gets stuffed, pushed into the backfield or strung out, or allows a defender to make contact with a ball carrier in the backfield.
Remarkably, Jets linemen were pushed backward only twice all year at the point of attack. It happened to Faneca once and right guard Brandon Moore once.
But left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson let five defenders contact the ball carrier in the backfield. That was the most of any left tackle in the AFC East and second to Buffalo Bills right tackle Langston Walker. Ferguson's left-side mate, Faneca, allowed four backfield penetrations.