This stats monk has returned from his candle lit cell where he pours over data, scratches his head, and sometimes scratches elsewhere.
Raiola was the only member of the offense who played every offensive snap in 2010. Because of this, I have taken to calling him the “Pygmy Pony.”
“I'm moving to Montana soon. Gonna raise me a crop of dental floss”—Frank Zappa
What amazes me the most is how the fans turned on him in 2010. The only things missing were torches and pitchforks as we villagers took to the streets in our righteous anger.
We have descended upon him like avenging angels, or buzzards, depending on your point of view.
Raiola went largely unnoticed in prior years, which is what you expect to see from your offensive linemen. When their names are called during a game, it’s seldom a good thing.
Now, Dom is a fiery guy. He’s battled foes and fans alike, taking on all comers. But, he’s getting up there in age, and the fans are getting restless for a change.
It’s akin to that incurable itch. It just won’t go away. Crabs would be a blessing. Riaola is anything but a blessing, in my humble opinion, but you be the judge.
Let’s take a look at Raiola’s Pro Football Focus grades and stats, and compare them to his output in 2009 for some perspective.
Raiola’s 1138 snaps were the third-most by a center in the NFL. During the first series of the first game of 2010, Raiola was charged with a fumble. It would be his last fumble of the season.
The Lions operated out of the shotgun quite a bit. Raiola never missed on a delivery. That’s pretty remarkable.
There were 27 centers who made the list of players who played at least 75 percent of their team’s offensive snaps. Raiola’s overall grade put him in 24th place.
Uh, doesn’t that suck? Yep, I thought so.
Raiola placed 13th of 28 centers in the same class in 2009. A remarkable fall in the standings.
It should be noted here that the centers are graded by PFF in a skeletal set of metrics. Pass Blocking, Run Blocking, Screen Blocking, and Penalties.
PFF looks at QB Sacks allowed, QB Hits allowed, and QB Pressures allowed. Quite frankly, I expected a more robust set of stats from a site that grades every player on every play.
In 2010, Raiola failed the “eyeball” test in the overwhelming consensus of opinion of Lions fans. That seems to be validated by the stats.
In 2009, Raiola ranked 12th, and had a positive rating out of 28 centers.
In 2010, Raiola ranked 23rd out of 27 centers and had a negative rating.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that looks like free-fall to me.
This is a good segue for Raiola’s QB protection stats, so let’s get digging!
Raiola allowed two QB sacks in 2010, which ranked him 12th, in a 10-way tie. The encouraging news is that of those 10 players, Raiola played at least 100 more snaps.
I know, I’m such a slappy.
In 2009, Raiola gave up two QB sacks as well, but placed in 18th place in an eight player tie. Again, Raiola was the Iron Man of the group.
Raiola allowed one QB hit in 2010, which was good for fourth out of 27. In 2009, Raiola allowed six QB hits, which was 24th out of 28 centers.
Raiola allowed a whopping 22 QB pressures in 2010. The only center who was worse in this category was Todd McClure of Atlanta (23). In 2009, Raiola gave up a mere nine QB pressures, good enough for 10th.
Coaching Point No. 1
If I were offensive line coach George Yarno, I would be scratching my head at Raiola’s drop off in his pass blocking. I’d also be on him. HARD!
So, how do you coach up a 10 year veteran? A cattle prod, or a taser should do the trick, but the legal expenses would be murder.
Run blocking was particularly ugly for Raiola’s 2010 campaign. Raiola graded out at 22nd place. In 2009, Raiola graded out 10th.
WTF? C’mon, man?
This is a rather oddball stat, but let’s run with it anyway.
Raiola was graded eigth in 2010, and was graded 11th in 2009.
Wow! An area of actual improvement! Dom, you da man!
In 2010, Raiola was the second-most penalized center in the NFL. His seven penalties were eclipsed only by Dallas’ Andre Gurode with eight flags.
In 2009, Raiola ranked seventh in penalties, where he got flagged five times.
What happened to Raiola in one year? His drop off in production was as alarming as it is mysterious.
Has his 10 seasons finally caught up with him? Has he suffered a lapse in his work ethic? Was there an unreported injury?
Who really knows? I don’t. You don’t. The coaches probably don’t. If Riaola doesn’t know, or can’t fix it, he will be an ex Lion very soon.
Now, excuse me while I head for the liquor cabinet. Sheesh!
Next up: MLB DeAndre Levy.
Mike Sudds is a Syndicated Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and a correspondent for DraftTek.com.