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Vikings' Offensive Line Actually Not Terrible At Allowing Pressure

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If you're not reading Pro Football Focus on a regular basis, you should be. They, along with Football Outsiders, have taken statistical analysis of football to an entirely new level. Their latest article, "Surrendering Pressure," has a very good breakdown of why teams allow as much pressure on the quarterback as they do, and attributing blame where it can actually be attributed.

According to PFF's charting, the Vikings had 597 passing snaps in 2010. Of those 597 passing snaps, there was pressure on the quarterback on 35.01% of those snaps. . .if that sounds like an excessive number, it's not. It actually puts the Vikings as slightly better than league average. The worst team in the NFL in allowing QB pressure in 2010 was the AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, who allowed pressure on a whopping 50.51% of their 681 passing snaps.

Now, the article does put this disclaimer on itself:

So there you have our breakdown of who’s allowing the pressure. You’ll realize there’s a large percentage of pressure unaccounted for, and those are due to unblocked players that come free against roll outs or on overload blitzes, etc. Our goal here, though, is to show where the responsibility lies for all plays that can be attributed.

Where blame can be attributed, they've broken things down into three different categories. . .two that the Vikings actually do relatively well in, and one that they can't help but improve in.

The first category was pressure allowed by the offensive line. According to PFF, the Minnesota Vikings had a cumulative total of 2990 offensive line snaps on passing plays in 2010, and on those snaps, the offensive line was responsible for 146 pressures allowed. So, the offensive line allowed pressure on 4.88% of the snaps that they were on the field for in passing situations. Again, this is right around the league average, placing the Vikings at fifteenth overall in that category. To contrast, the worst team in this category was the Chicago Bears, who allowed pressure on 6.70% of their offensive line snaps.

The second category deals with skill position players, to include running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. For all the knocks that guys like Adrian Peterson get for their shortcomings in pass blocking, the Vikings were right around league average in this category as well. There were 308 snaps, according to PFF, where Vikings' backs and tight ends or receivers stayed in to block, and they were responsible for 20 pressures on the quarterback, or 6.49% of the time. Again, the Vikings are fifteenth in the league in this category. The worst team in the league in this category was the New Orleans Saints, whose skill position players allowed pressure on 10.51% of their applicable snaps.

Then there's the third category. . .a category called "Quarterback-Invited Pressures." To put it bluntly, these are quarterback pressures that are caused due to the quarterback holding on to the ball too long. . .or, as PFF puts it, "the quarterback holding on to the ball too long and inviting pressure upon himself." The Vikings. . .well, the Vikings didn't fare so well in this category. And by "didn't fare so well," what I mean is "finished dead last in the NFL." So, between Brett Favre, Tarvaris Jackson, and Joe Webb, at least some of the pressure that the Vikings' offense allowed was due to quarterbacks holding on to the football too long.

So, maybe the Vikings' offensive line wasn't all that terrible after all. Given the injuries to Steve Hutchinson, Phil Loadholt, Anthony Herrera, and stuff we don't even know about, things like this gives yours truly a bit of reason for optimism that the Minnesota pass offense will look better in 2011.

What do you folks make of all this? Am I interpreting these things correctly?