According to the numbers, pass protection was an art mastered and butchered by a select few NFL teams in 2010.
Which numbers? Definitely not just the rudimentary offensive line stats available on the league's website, although they're a start.
It's one thing to keep tabs on how many sacks and quarterback hits each team gave up last season. Sometimes, the sheer volume (110 hits on Jacksonville's passers) or paucity (Indianapolis' mere 16 sacks allowed) of either measure is a good indication of how secure a team's pocket was or wasn't.
But neither number shows how likely any passer was to get popped on any given drop back, which is a truer gauge of how well their blocking scheme was working.
That'd be passing attempts per sack or hit—"PASH" for short—and the more, the better.
Google "passing attempts per sack" and you'll find plenty of postings calculating how often NFL quarterbacks were dropped with ball in hand. Good on them; it's a neat second-level insight with a fair bit of number-crunching involved.
But ask Jacksonville's David Garrard if he appreciated any of the 110 knocks those guys didn't count.
Further, the market for quarterbacks now is such that the Arizona Cardinals' offer of $9 million per game of starting experience to Kevin Kolb was deemed "necessary." So, it's a fair bet that NFL owners and general managers will want their linemen to give up as few hits as possible—or else.
To that end, there's been plenty of moving and shaking along the league's best and worst offensive lines of late, both in the 2011 NFL draft and during the post-lockout free-agency spree. In an increasingly pass-happy game, everyone's looking to keep the passer upright.
Here's the dirt on who the five best and worst were in 2010—and how they look in 2011.