Offensive Line Stats--subtitled 'Fowler must go.'

Ah, that's much better. The double returns wasn't working but the p inside of the sideways carats did the trick. Thanks Kurupt.

I looked at each lineman on every play during the 14 games my recorder worked (Broncos and Jags games not didn't record). Yes, it did take quite a while and, yes, I have no life. I noted each lineman's performance on every play as good (meaning they did something that really advanced the play, pancaked a defender or did something else impressive), decent (meaning they did their job well enough for the play to go forward but nothing particularly noteworthy) and poor (meaning they screwed the pooch in some way). I then assigned grades of 95% for good plays, 75% for decent ones and 55% for bad ones and then averaged them--keeping passing and running plays separate. I also kept track of killed plays (meaning their individual screw up killed the play) and killed drives (meaning their individual screw up killed a play which subsequently killed a drive). I was not, I should note, looking at why a lineman, say, kept getting pushed into the backfield (bad technique, bad footwork, lack of hustle, etc). The game film on TV simply doesn't allow for that kind of detailed analysis.

As a whole, the team had 384 run plays and 433 pass plays during those 14 games. The linemen killed 40 (10.4%) of the running plays and 30 (6.9%) of the pass plays. Think about that for a second. Every 10th running play was derailed by one of the linemen screwing up. Yikes! The 6.9% of passing plays the linemen killed don't include plays where the QB (either one) was flattened after getting the ball to a receiver. If you throw in the bad plays (which include killed plays and plays where linemen missed their blocks and/or got the QB whacked), 92 of them (21.3%), Losman and Edwards got knocked around and/or ran for their lives every fifth play. That's just not good for a QB's confidence.

Peters graded out at 76.9% in the run game and killed 1.2% of the plays he was in for. He came out at 74.5% in the pass game and killed 0.9% of his pass plays.

Dock was very durable and was in for every play. Dock graded out at 76.8% in the run game and killed 1.2% of run plays. He came out at 74.5% in the pass game and killed 0.8% of pass plays.

Fowler, who also was in for every play, graded out at 72.5% and killed a whopping 4.4% of run plays. He did better on passing downs, coming out at 74.3% and killed 1.5% of pass plays.

Butler graded out highest in the run game at 77.9% and killed 1.3% of run plays he was in. He came out at 74.7% in the pass game and killed 1.2% of pass plays he was in.

Walker was in for all but 2 pass plays. He graded out at 75.8% in the run game and killed 2.1% of run plays. He graded out at 74.6% on pass plays and killed 2.2% of the plays he was in.

Preston, in extremely limited action (12 run plays, 23 pass plays) was the worst lineman in the run, grading out at a flat 70% but with no killed plays. He came out at 73.3% on pass plays and killed 4.4% (1 of 23) pass plays for which he was on the field. The sample is too small to be meaningful, though it does track with the larger sample from the preseason.

Chambers, also in extremely limited action (48 run plays, 56 pass plays) graded out at a surprisingly high 77.5% in the run game with no killed plays. He came out at 74.3% in the pass game and killed 1.8% of the plays (1 of 56) he was in for. Chambers was on the field for more plays as an extra lineman but I did not track those since he was a tackle eligible or tight end on those downs.

You can see why the QBs like the left side of the line. Taken together Peters and Dock allowed a defender to disrupt pass plays only 1.5% of the time. The QBs got as much pressure due to Fowler or Butler or Walker as they got from Peters and Dock combined. On pass plays there is room for improvement at C, RG and RT. While the QBs get knocked around far more than the Brady's and Manning's of the world they each had opportunities to get the ball out. As a whole, the line does a decent job of pass blocking. However, it does get significant help from the backs and tight ends. I was stunned when I added it all up and saw that Walker got help on 11.1% of pass plays. That only counts when a back or tight end helped Walker, not when a back or tight tend picked up a defender and never touched Walker's. I would have thought it would have come out much, much lower. The assistance has trended downwards in the second half of the season but that's still a lot of downs where there is one less person for the QB to throw to.

Some people seem to think center isn't an issue for Buffalo. Silly people! Fowler was responsible for killing 17 (42.5% of 40 run plays killed by the line). He needs to go, and not just where the DT pushes him. In watching the line I was struck by how many times (game stats) or the announcers stated that Buffalo had run up the middle when they hadn't. Yes, the Bills often run where the middle of the line began the play but they almost never run between the center and (either) guard. Rather, the guard and tackle from one side crash down the line creating (the top of)an 'L' (or backwards 'L') with the center, other guard and other tackle forming the bottom of the 'L'. The tight end and wide receiver form the other wall (parallel to the top of the 'L') to create the running lane. The blocking scheme literally takes into account the fact that Fowler can't drive virtually any DT off of the ball. Butler, on the other hand, is a real find. He would definitely make the roster on the playoff teams and might even start for some of them. Watching him play it became clear why the staff likes him. He, alone amongst the Bills linemen, can be counted on to routinely finish off blocks. The others, by contrast, sometimes (not often but sometimes) quit before the whistle, allowing the guy they are blocking to get back into a slow to develop play.

Just another great fan opinion shared on the pages of