No Correlation: Offensive Line Play and Rookie Quarterback Success

This morning an interesting point was brought up in one of the threads:  Does offensive line play influence the success of a rookie QB?  That answer is obviously an easy one:  Yes.  However, in briefly researching this phenomenon, the results are much less pronounced than just that anecdotal observation.

Recently, Pro Football Focus has been giving offensive line grades for pass blocking during the 2010 season, which is what really piqued my curiosity on this topic to begin with. Interestingly, the Titans stack up at 14th in the league.  This differs from Football Outsider's grade of 9th.  Best I can tell, this is due to the fact that Football Outsiders gives a heavier weight to sack percentage.  I prefer PFF's method, as it also takes into account the number of blockers, but for the purpose of this study I will be using FO's metrics as they have information available that dates back to the 1996 season.  

Given this information, I pondered, will Jake Locker suffer if he only has average offensive line play?  Or, more specifically, has recent history shown that rookie QB's only have success in the presence of an above average to great offensive line?

I suspect this post should be relatively simple and short.  I intend to look at every rookie QB since 1996 that has started at least 8 games.  I'll rank these by QB rating.  Also included in the chart will be the QB's offensive line ranking.  

Games Passing
Rk Player Year Tm GS Att Cmp% Yds Rate Sk FO OL Rk
1 Ben Roethlisberger 2004 PIT 13 295 66.4% 2621 98.1 30 28
2 Matt Ryan 2008 ATL 16 434 61.1% 3440 87.7 17 5
3 Charlie Batch 1998 DET 12 303 57.1% 2178 83.5 37 23
4 Joe Flacco 2008 BAL 16 428 60.0% 2971 80.3 32 20
5 Jeff Garcia 1999 SFO 10 375 60.0% 2544 77.9 15 5
6 Carson Palmer 2004 CIN 13 432 60.9% 2897 77.3 25 7
7 Sam Bradford 2010 STL 16 590 60.0% 3512 76.5 34 10
8 Colt McCoy 2010 CLE 8 222 60.8% 1576 74.5 23 23
9 Matt Leinart 2006 ARI 11 377 56.8% 2547 74.0 21 14
10 Tim Couch 1999 CLE 14 399 55.9% 2447 73.2 56 29
11 Byron Leftwich 2003 JAX 13 418 57.2% 2819 73.0 19 6
12 Peyton Manning 1998 IND 16 575 56.7% 3739 71.2 22 1
13 Trent Edwards 2007 BUF 9 269 56.1% 1630 70.4 12 13
14 Vince Young 2006 TEN 13 357 51.5% 2199 66.7 25 11
15 Chad Hutchinson 2002 DAL 9 250 50.8% 1555 66.3 34 31
16 Bruce Gradkowski 2006 TAM 11 328 54.0% 1661 65.9 25 10
17 Quincy Carter 2001 DAL 8 176 51.1% 1072 63.0 12 23
18 Mark Sanchez 2009 NYJ 15 364 53.8% 2444 63.0 26 23
19 David Carr 2002 HOU 16 444 52.5% 2592 62.8 76 32
20 Kyle Boller 2003 BAL 9 224 51.8% 1260 62.4 17 32
Games Passing
Rk Player Year Tm GS Att Cmp% Yds Rate Sk FO OL Rnk
21 Chris Weinke 2001 CAR 15 540 54.3% 2931 62.0 26 8
22 Matthew Stafford 2009 DET 10 377 53.3% 2267 61.0 24 22
23 Joey Harrington 2002 DET 12 429 50.1% 2294 59.9 8 1
24 Josh Freeman 2009 TAM 9 290 54.5% 1855 59.8 20 11
25 Kyle Orton 2005 CHI 15 368 51.6% 1869 59.7 30 21
26 Jimmy Clausen 2010 CAR 10 299 52.5% 1558 58.4 33 31
27 Andrew Walter 2006 OAK 8 276 53.3% 1677 55.8 46 32
28 Ryan Leaf 1998 SDG 9 245 45.3% 1289 39.0 22 7
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2011.

 

Worth noting: A QB that holds the ball too long can skew this data.  Big Ben was not likely playing with the 28th worst line in football.  He just happens to hold the ball too long.  The flipside of that is a guy like Peyton Manning.  Indy may not have had the best O-line that year, but Peyton always gets the ball out on time.

As you no doubt can tell, there is practically zero correlation between the two.  So, what have we learned today? Well, nothing really.  But, I spent the time compiling the data, so I figured I mine as well share it.

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