Pressure points: How protection held up
October, 24, 2012
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
The Minnesota Vikings sacked Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton seven times Sunday.
They did so without committing additional resources to their pass rush. In fact, the Vikings were the only NFL team in Week 7 to send four or fewer pass-rushers on every opposing pass play. They became the sixth team over the past five seasons to use standard pressure on every snap, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The Vikings had sent five-plus rushers on 23.1 percent of plays before Sunday.
Meanwhile, in St. Louis, the Green Bay Packers had a harder time getting to Rams quarterback Sam Bradford despite sending five or more pass-rushers on 65.7 percent of pass plays, the NFL's highest percentage for Week 7. The rate was 42.4 percent for the Packers previously this season.
The disparity provided fodder for the latest "Blogger Blitz" video.
Running backs, tight ends, quarterbacks and even receivers affect protection, particularly when teams send added pressure. Offensive lines remain central to the protection schemes. With that in mind, I've put together a chart showing how Week 7 starting linemen entered the NFL.
The Rams fared well with a left tackle and left guard they had claimed off waivers. Joe Barksdale and Shelley Smith were starting in a regular-season game for the first time.