It stands to reason that the more pressure a quarterback faces on a pass play, the more likely he will be sacked or have the play disrupted.
The mission of Thursday's factoid was to test that belief. Was it more likely that the Cincinnati Bengals would allow sacks against a five-man rush than against three-man or four-man pressure?
Read below to find out. The number of the day: 12.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, that is how many sacks the Bengals allowed last season when five or more defenders rushed past the line of scrimmage. When only four rushed, the Bengals surrendered 16 sacks. Only one of their 29 sacks allowed came against a three-man rush.
That said, the pressure that gave the Bengals the most trouble was the four-man rush. In most cases that meant they struggled to prevent one of the four defensive linemen from penetrating. Some of those four-man rushes could hae involved a linebacker or defensive back blitzing while a defensive lineman dropped into coverage. Four-man rushes also can be a combination of linemen and secondary players rushing out of a 3-4 setup.
Regardless of the formation, the Bengals' were slightly better protecting against the five-man rush than the four-man rush.
Only three teams allowed fewer sacks against the five-man rush than Cincinnati's 12. Denver allowed four sacks against such pressure last season, and Detroit and San Diego each allowed eight.
Against the four-man rush, Denver, Carolina and Indianapolis matched Cincinnati, allowing 16 sacks. Detroit allowed the lowest sack total in the league against the four-man rush, surrendering 14.
It's clear the Bengals weren't the only team that struggled more against a four-man rush than a five-man rush. In fact, that was the case last season for most teams. On average, teams surrendered 21 sacks against four-man rushes in 2013, and allowed 17 against five-man pressures. The disparity exists because teams sent four rushers more often than five. Teams rushed four an average of 394 times last season, but averaged just 148 plays with five rushers.
Teams allowed an average of 40 sacks last season. The Bengals were well below that. As the only Bengals quarterback who hit the ground last season, Andy Dalton was sacked just 29 times. Only the Broncos and Lions allowed fewer sacks.
As we start moving through the final month of the offseason before training camp, it's worth mentioning the relative clean play of the Bengals' offensive line because the unit will look mostly the same this fall. Changes came this offseason to center and the backup tackle position. Otherwise, the rest of the starting line should be the same.
Pro Bowler Andrew Whitworth returns to play left tackle. Clint Boling is hoping to return from an ACL tear in time to start the season at left guard (although if he doesn't make it back by Week 1 the Bengals likely will see a new face in that role; possibly Mike Pollak, a reserve lineman or Whitworth could move back inside like he did late last season). Pollak and rookie Russell Bodine are competing to replace the departed Kyle Cook as the starting center. Kevin Zeitler remains at right guard, and Andre Smith comes back at right tackle.
Other blockers, like tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert and H-back Orson Charles will be playing the same roles they did last season. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis might have slightly fewer responsibilities, but Giovani Bernard will be protecting Dalton out of the backfield again, too. With a most of their protectors returning, the Bengals hope they can keep Dalton's sack total down this season, too.