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Football Outsiders’ metrics suggest Packers’ pass protection improved greatly in 2019

The numbers point to significant growth in the line’s pass blocking, while maintaining consistency in the running game.

Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

For several seasons, the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line has been steady in its statistical running game measures, according to Football Outsiders (FO). The unit’s adjusted line yards metric, in particular, has ranked in the top seven of the NFL for at least the past three seasons. But in 2019, the line showed a notable increase in its pass protection, specifically in terms of sacks and pressures.

Overall, the Packers allowed significantly fewer sacks last season, cutting down their total from 53 to 36 from 2018 to 2019. In turn, Green Bay’s improvement in that total contributed to two dramatic improvements according to the latest FO Almanac. The most noteworthy stat is adjusted sack rate (ASR), which divides total sacks and intentional grounding plays by the total number of pass plays and is adjusted by situation and opponent. The Packers saw a drop in their ASR from 7.9% to 6.4% over the past two seasons, and watched their NFL ranking rise from 21st to 10th as a result. In fact, Green Bay has cut that rate by 2% since the 2017 season in which the team ranked 28th. FO also recognized that the team’s top-10 ranking in 2019 was its first in that category since 2007.

Green Bay also maintained consistency in FO’s pressure rate, which calculates the percentage of pass plays with marked pressures while accounting for coverage sacks and scrambles. The Packers posted a 29.2% rate last season compared to 29% flat in 2018, and actually moved up from 16th to 12th in the rankings. While there was not necessarily a noticeable growth over the past two seasons themselves, both seasons were distinct improvements from the 2017 season in which the team ranked 28th.

One area that surely aided the Packers in these jumps was the offensive line’s continuity. The unit, by far, earned its highest continuity score from FO last season with a mark of 44 on a 48-point scale. By comparison, Green Bay had posted scores of 33 and a very low 21 in the previous two seasons. While mainstays like David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley helped lead the way in pass protection, the emergence of rookie Elgton Jenkins was critical in the team’s measures and FO noted that ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate was very favorable for that trio a year ago.

Football Outsiders outlined that it was the first time since 2003 that Green Bay ranked in the top-10 of the NFL in both adjusted line yards in the running game and adjusted sack rate in the passing game. The Packers will try to replicate some of that pass-blocking success again in 2020 with quite a bit of continuity along the line again, minus the right tackle position with Bryan Bulaga being replaced by either Rick Wagner or Billy Turner.