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Friday, May 8, 2009
Point of attack: Bills run blocking


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

When I linked to KC Joyner's blog about the Buffalo Bills' point-of-attack blocking percentages Thursday morning, readers craved more. They wanted to know details about individual performances and wondered how other AFC East clubs fared.

I reached out to Joyner to see if he would be willing to share more information earmarked for his book, Scientific Football, which is scheduled to be shipped in August.

Those who pre-order his book are granted advance access to Joyner's research as it becomes available, but he was gracious enough to send some of his analysis my way for the purpose of sharing it with AFC East blog visitors.

Throughout the afternoon I will post last year's run-blocking numbers for each of the division's offensive lines.

The chart breaks down a 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.

2008 Bills O-line at the point of attack
Player POA att. Yds Avg POA pct.
Jason Peters, LT 121 677 5.6 90.9
Derrick Dockery, LG 161 783 4.9 81.4
Duke Preston, C 125 588 4.7 76.0
Melvin Fowler, C 53 215 4.1 77.4
Brad Butler, RG 112 578 5.2 75.9
Langston Walker, RT 114 467 4.1 77.2

Joyner explains that an 80 percent POA success rate is considered the low end of acceptability.

With that in mind, the Bills didn't fare so well. As run-blocking metrics for the other three AFC East teams are posted Friday, the Bills' will look even worse by comparison.

Two Bills linemen eclipsed the 80 percent threshold, and neither of them is on the roster anymore.

Jason Peters, who at 90.9 percent led all tackles in a division that has some good ones, was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles before the draft. The Bills previously cut left guard Derrick Dockery, who won 81.4 percent of his POA blocks.

Joyner breaks down each play in such detail that he tallies 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.

Center Duke Preston, also no longer on the team, was pushed into the backfield eight times, most in the division. Backup center Melvin Fowler was pushed back four times.

The other AFC East centers combined were pushed back only six times, half of Buffalo's total. New England Patriots center Dan Koppen was pushed back six times, while Nick Mangold of the New York Jets and Samson Satele of the Miami Dolphins weren't pushed back at all.

Right guard Brad Butler, who could be moving out to right tackle this year, was pushed into the backfield six times, most among non-centers and tied with Koppen for second-worst. But Koppen had 197 net POA attempts, while Butler had 112.

Bills right tackle Langston Walker allowed seven defenders to
make contact with a runner in the backfield. That also led the division. Peters gave up one such play.