We reached out to KC Joyner to go over some of the run blocking metrics he completed after film review of the Bears. The numbers showed that right guard Roberto Garza was not only the Bears' most efficient run blocker last season, he was one of the best guards in the game, ranking ahead of the three Pro Bowlers Joyner has final numbers for--Chris Snee, Leonard Davis and Alan Faneca.
"If you ask me about the 22 teams I've run the numbers on so far, he is probably the second most surprising,'' said Joyner, who will publish the results and more in Scientific Football 2009. "[New York Jets center] Nick Mangold is probably the most surprising. I knew Mangold was good but he is head and shoulders above any other center and will probably be the highest ranked POA lineman [94.3 percent] when I am done in another two weeks.
"The last time I did this, in 2005, Garza was in the low 80's and for him to be [at 88.3] is a little surprising in that he's ahead of these Pro Bowl guards. I love doing the numbers, watching the tape and then running the numbers. In most cases the numbers agree with what you say in scouting, `This player is this and that.' Usually, the metrics follow what you're seeing in scouting. Whenever the two disagree, I lean on the metrics more than scouting. You can see a player have one bad play and in the back of your mind, `He stinks.' The metrics don't care. The one bad play will be registered and then `Let's see the other 150 he had.'''
POA refers to Point of Attack. Joyner breaks down every play over the course of the entire season and evaluates each lineman when they were involved at the POA on a running play. Garza's net success percentage of 88.3 means he lost at the point of attack on less than 12 blocks out of every 100. The Bears were one of only six teams in the league last season to have all five linemen start all 16 games. Here are the breakdowns for their starters (we also covered it here on Monday):
LT John St. Clair 79.5
LG Josh Beekman 85.7
C Olin Kreutz 81.5
RG Roberto Garza 88.3
RT John Tait 84.6
"Beekman did well, especially considering he was a first-year starter,'' Joyner said.
The numbers for centers are typically lower than the other linemen and Joyner said there are a number of factors that go into that.
"Defenses often line up where that is the position they want to attack,'' he said. "They want to attack with the nose right over the center. Centers tend to be the smallest of the offensive linemen. That's why Mangold's numbers are even more impressive. Usually you see a tackle or guard with the best percentages.
"The scouts still talk about Kreutz as an elite guy. I didn't see it on tape. He's not a bad center by any stretch of the imagination, he just got beat more last season than you're used to seeing.''
Joyner pointed out that centers are involved in many combination blocks and that can also lead to them having a lower percentage because if the other half of the combo block fails, the center's half fails too.
New left tackle Orlando Pace recorded a run metric of 83.5 with St. Louis in 2008.
"He's a better pass blocker, and he's not an elite pass blocker,'' Joyner said. ``What I think is he is going to be an improvement over St. Clair. That's a relative term. He's an incremental improvement. The Bears aren't getting the Orlando Pace of a few years back. It's obviously a stop-gap measure. I'll take it over St. Clair and what I saw last year. They're going to need to solve the problem one of these days.''
Projected backup Kevin Shaffer fared very well in Cleveland last season according to the run metrics. Shaffer has played left tackle before, too, so the Bears have solid depth on their line.