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Running the Numbers: Interior Linemen Undervalued

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Jonathan Bales

My latest post at DallasCowboys.com deals with the importance of interior linemen. In the article, I note the vast difference in team success among those squads with top-tier guards and centers as compared to those with lackluster interior linemen. I also take a look at free agent signings Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings.

For the record, I actually prefer Bernadeau. Livings got a contract worth a total of $8 million more than Bernadeau’s, but Bernadeau’s been superior as both a run blocker and pass protector over the years in Carolina. Panthers running backs averaged 4.34 YPC behind him last season (albeit in limited action), compared to a 4.10 YPC mark for Cowboys running backs behind their interior linemen and 3.98 YPC for Bengals backs behind Livings.

After analyzing the play of center Phil Costa in greater detail, I’m not as down on him as I was immediately following the season. The Cowboys still need to hold a competition for the starting center job, but I think Costa made everyone believe he was worth than he actually was because of his errant snaps. Costa finished the season strong, and he was actually in the middle of the pack in the NFL in terms of pressure rate.

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8 Responses to Running the Numbers: Interior Linemen Undervalued

  1. brianbrianbrian says:

    I didn’t understand the analysis on the link. Bernadeau’s and Living’s rushing numbers were no better than the Cowboys’ interior linemen’s numbers from last year. So why is that good? (not trying to be rude…just asking)

  2. Brian–Well, Bernadeau’s numbers have been better over his career than the last three years in Dallas. I’m a bigger fan of him than of Livings, but I think both players are obvious upgrades over Nagy/Arkin.

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Jb,

    I’d love to see the stats associated. I thought Costa was horrible and was graded near the wort on pff

  4. Tyrone..Costa wasn’t great, but I’ve watched every game from 2011 again in detail WITHOUT tracking stats. Sometimes when I break down the games, I miss some things because I’m worried about tracking formations, shifts, audibles, pass lengths, etc…Costa appeared to improve last year. He was REALLY bad to start the season, but he gave up only five pressures over the final 11 games (15 overall)..that’s good, even for a center. He REALLY needs to improve his snaps, but there’s more there than I thought. I don’t think Costa would receive nearly as poor a grade on PFF if they analyzed only the second half of the season.

  5. By the way…Costa WASN’T bad as a run blocker over the second half of the season. Don’t forget JG is STILL calling the strong side dive from Double Tight Strong, and Cowboys’ backs averaged over 4.5 YPC behind Costa last year..that’s REALLY good for an interior lineman.

  6. In comparison, just around 3.5 behind Kosier.

  7. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Good words. Thanks.

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