While they hardly claim to have a debate-proof formula, Pro Football Focus has become one of the most respected publications in the business in large part for their illuminating statistical breakdowns in areas most don’t bother covering.
One of those areas is their penchant for crunching numbers on offensive linemen, and while it may or may not come as a surprise, the Buffalo Bills are handsomely represented in PFF’s season-ending individual rankings.
According to their charts, Bills guard Kraig Urbik and center Eric Wood were the very best in the NFL when it came to pass blocking efficiency.
Pro Football Focus explains their formula to come with a Pass Block Rating (PBE) as “weighing hits and hurries as worth 75% of sacks, add up the three forms of pressure, divide it by the number of times they pass blocked at a certain position and you’re left with a figure.”
At the very top of the guards list is Urbik who finished with a 99.4 PBE after allowing just two pressures in 248 pass block snaps. Fellow Bills guard Chad Reinhart finished tied for third in the league with a 98.6 PBE and surrendered a mere 10 pressures in 537 pass block snaps.
Wood was tops among all centers with a 99.3 PBE. PFF statistics show Wood allowed just three quarterback pressures in 301 pass block snaps. Seattle’s Max Unger finished second.
The Bills had great pass blocking efficiency at the offensive tackle position as well. Demetrius Bell graded out as the sixth-best tackle after allowing nine pressures in 237 pass block snaps (97.0 PBE) while Erik Pears ranked tied for 17th with a 95.7 PBE—35 pressures in 628 pass block snaps.
Of course, statistics don’t always tell the whole story. The Bills implement an offense that allows for plenty of spread formations and quick throws. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was excellent at getting rid of the ball before pressure arrived and therefore deserves some of the credit for avoiding sacks and pressures.
So in part at least, Buffalo’s excellent pass blocking may be due to the system. Don’t hate on them though— these numbers show the offensive line was more than capable in 2011, and a pleasant surprise to most.