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Panthers 2010 Season: A Sad Sack Story

Reading James' article on Geoff Schwartz, I was intrigued by the reference to Rivera's comment from earlier in the year, that "offensive line is a strength". I had been surprised at the time as I felt that the pass-protection in particular had been poor throughout the season, although I was not sure that it was necessarily due to the offensive line being poor. Reminded of this comment, I did some digging and found an article written by J.J.Cooper at aolnews that was related.

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Panthers QB Matt Moore spent a lot of time on the ground (via 4screens)

 

Cooper timed every sack during the course of the 2010 season and filtered them using a 3 second mark. His reasoning for this was  "it's a pretty fair cutoff point for where a sack can no longer be blamed on a quarterback's blockers".So you have "short sacks" that occur within 3 seconds and "longs sacks" which occur when the quarterback holds the ball longer.

Cooper then tallied the results which, to say the least, are interesting. I sorted the list a little differently, taking percentage of short sacks to total sacks taken by the quarterback. I also filtered the results to those quarterbacks that have taken a minimum of 10 sacks. Tabulated results follow.

Quarterback Team Long SacksShort SacksTotal SacksShort Sack %
B.Roethlisberger Steelers 20 12 32 37.50%
J.Flacco Ravens 25 15 40 37.50%
M.Vick Eagles 19 13 32 40.63%
V.Young Titans 7 6 13 46.15%
M.Cassell Chiefs 14 12 26 46.15%
J.Freeman Buccaneers 10 9 19 47.37%
M.Sanchez Jets 14 13 27 48.15%
B.Favre Vikings 11 11 22 50.00%
C.McCoy Browns 11 12 23 52.17%
J.Campbell Raiders 16 18 34 52.94%
K.Orton Broncos 15 19 34 55.88%
K.Kolb Eagles 7 9 16 56.25%
T.Smith 49ers 7 11 18 61.11%
J.Cutler Bears 19 33 52 63.46%
S.Bradford Rams 12 23 35 65.71%
P.Rivers Chargers 13 25 38 65.79%
A.Rodgers Packers 10 21 31 67.74%
T.Brady Patriot 8 17 25 68.00%
A.Smith 49ers 8 17 25 68.00%
M.Hasselbeck Seahawks 9 20 29 68.97%
D.Anderson Cardinals 8 18 26 69.23%
R.Fitzpatrick Bills 7 16 23 69.57%
M.Ryan Falcons 7 16 23 69.57%
S.Hill Lions 5 12 17 70.59%
M.Schaub Texans 9 23 32 71.88%
T.Edwards Jaguars 3 8 11 72.73%
J.Kitna Cowboys 5 15 20 75.00%
D.Garrard Jaguars 8 24 32 75.00%
D.McNabb Redskins 9 28 37 75.68%
M.Hall Cardinals 3 10 13 76.92%
T.Thigpen Dolphins 2 8 10 80.00%
B.Gradkowski Raiders 2 8 10 80.00%
D.Brees Saints 5 21 26 80.77%
C.Henne Dolphins 5 23 28 82.14%
M.Moore Panthers 2 10 12 83.33%
C.Palmer Bengals 4 22 26 84.62%
J.Clausen Panthers 5 29 34 85.29%
K.Collins Titans 1 12 13 92.31%
P.Manning Colts 1 14 15 93.33%
E.Manning Giants 1 15 16 93.75%

 

Panthers quarterbacks on this list combined took 39 short sacks as opposed to 7 long sacks. That works out to 84.8 % of total sacks being short sacks. The average for this list is 65.2%. Let's compare to the other teams in our division:
 
For the Saints, Drew Brees had 80.7% short sacks.
For the Falcons, Matt Ryan had 69.6% short sacks.
For the Bucs, Josh Freeman had 47.37% short sacks.

So you think it was not so bad after all - Drew Brees had a similar percentage of short sacks.

There's more.

Football Outsiders tracks a metric they call "Adjusted Sack Rate". They define it as "sacks (plus intentional grounding penalties) per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance, and opponent." The Panthers had an adjusted sack rate of 9.9%. This was second last in the league. The average for the league is 6.5%. For further comparison:

Saints - Drew Brees had an adjusted sack rate of 4.7%
Falcons - Matt Ryan had an adjusted sack rate of 4.1%
Bucs - Josh Freeman had an adjusted sack rate of 6.1%

Put these together, it would be difficult to deny that the Panthers had severe problems. Going into the 2011 season (assuming we have one), the Panthers have a ton of work to do and I don't think it is limited to the offensive line itself.  I would like to think that the those who deserve a significant portion of blame for these figures are no longer here (Fox, Davidson and other members of the previous coaching staff). But I cannot be sure. I think most players on offense have to take some responsibility for numbers so bad. While it would be tempting for us to delve into another heated discussion about QB play, I would urge you all to refrain from that. 

The point here is that we have other issues that would need attention ahead of the next season. Rivera's vision of running a balanced offense will remain a dream unless he can fix this critical issue. Chudzinski and the coaches will need all the time they can get to get ourselves ready for the next season and in position to "run when we want to run and pass when we want to pass". The longer we go without a schedule for off-season activities, the more challenging this task becomes.

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