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After further review... OL not that bad (Game film study)

One of the theories floating around is that Kevin Kolb was benched in favor of Michael Vick because of shaky offensive line play.  The thinking is that Kolb would be a sitting duck back there, whereas Vick has the elusiveness to consistently get away from pressure.  Vick was sacked 6 times on Sunday in Detroit (that statistic was later lowered to 5 because the Lions were credited with a sack on a fumbled snap).  Is 5 sacks a large number?  No doubt about it.  But were they the fault of the offensive line?  Starting center Mike McGlynn doesn't think so.

McGlynn took issue with the sentiment that the play of the offensive line led to the benching of Kevin Kolb:

"There are a lot of variables [on the sacks]. One was on a screen," McGlynn said. "People just look at it like they gave up six sacks, they're terrible. Watch the film. You guys can critique us then."

OK Mike, that's reasonable enough.  Let's go to the video tape (film of the 5 sacks after the jump)...

- Sack #1 (Stopwatch - 3.5 seconds) - When you look at this one, it looks like Winston Justice is beaten soundly on a speed rush.  I wouldn't completely agree.  He's locked in one-on-one with the defender, and he rides the defender way upfield (9 yards into the backfield) before the defender makes his turn.  Typically, the DE would have run himself out of the play in most situations, but Vick is probably a little too far back in his drop, and the defender finds himself in the right place on the right play.  Note also that Vick pump fakes twice, and when I put the stopwatch on this play, I get 3.5 seconds before the sack occurs - that's a long time.  This is a play that simply took too long to develop (there may have been good coverage downfield, but it's too difficult to tell from this angle), and Justice ultimately looks like the bad guy.

- Sack #2 (Stopwatch - 3.8 seconds) - Coverage sack.

- Sack #3 (Stopwatch - 3.1 seconds) - Nick Cole is just overpowered by Ndamukong Suh here.  It still takes 3.1 seconds for Suh to get there, but this is a legitimate sack.

- Sack #4 (Stopwatch irrelevant - busted screen play) - The play is made here by the Lions LB Julian Peterson, who reads the screen and gets out into the flat quickly to cover LeSean McCoy.  On screen plays, the offensive line will essentially let the defensive line through so they negate themselves out of the play.  In most cases, the OL will hold their blocks slightly longer than the Eagles did, but nevertheless, this is more of a busted play than it is a failure by the offensive line.

- Sack #5 (Stopwatch irrelevant - Vick rolled out before any pressure was on him) - Two things here... First of all, dumb play call.  Come on, Andy.  It's 3rd and 8, you have an 11 point lead, and there's only 3:21.  RUN THE BALL.  Secondly, Vick can't allow himself even the most remote chance of being knocked out of bounds and stopping the clock.  If nothing's there, GO DOWN.  Anyway, this one is clearly not on the OL.

The statistic "sacks allowed" reminds me a lot of the stat "stolen bases allowed" in baseball.  In baseball, if a speedy baserunner reaches first base, they'll often note the catcher's success rate of throwing out baserunners.  But in reality, it's as much on the pitcher holding the runner close, as it is on the catcher... Perhaps even more so.  The same concept applies here - If your QB holds onto the ball for a long time, the number of sacks are going to increase.  That's not necessarily a terrible thing, mind you.  By holding onto the ball longer, Michael Vick is going to extend plays that might otherwise go as incomplete passes by QB's that prefer to get the ball out quickly.  Ben Roethlisberger won a Super Bowl holding onto the football for an eternity and taking an abnormal number of sacks for a winning team.

I'll agree with Mike McGlynn here - I think the offensive line is getting flack for these sacks, when in reality, if you look at the tape as McGlynn suggested, the OL was responsible for no more than two of them.