19

October

Is Marshall Newhouse as Good as his Pro Football Focus Numbers?

Marshall Newhouse

Packers T Marshall Newhouse has been solid so far this season.

Regular readers of this site know that we like to cite Pro Football Focus (PFF) metrics when talking about the Packers. I wouldn’t call any of us football sabermaticians, but PFF does some excellent work trying to make football analysis as objective as possible.

Too often, people either treat sites like PFF as the be-all and end-all of analysis, or dismiss their work entirely. I do neither. PFF is another tool in the toolbox as we continue to try and understand this complicated game called football.

Anyway, PFF had a doozy the other day: Marshall Newhouse is rated as the fifth-best pass blocking offensive tackle in the NFL. That’s according to PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency statistic.

I’m not kidding. Marshall Newhouse. The guy who was supposed to be the weak link on the Packers offensive line. The guy who PFF rated as one of the wort tackles in football last season. Yeah, that guy.

Don’t believe me? Check out the story for yourself. In addition to all the rankings, you can see exactly how PFF comes up with its pass-blocking efficiency (PBE) stat (also check out their pass-block rating stat because I’ll be talking about that later on).

Marshall Newhouse? For Real?

I’m not questioning PFF’s work, but my immediate reaction upon hearing that Newhouse has been the fifth-best pass-blocking tackle in the league so far was to snort and laugh a little.

“C’mon,” I thought. “Really? I’m all for using numbers and formulas to try to better understand football, but this is ridiculous. I watch the games. Newhouse can’t be the fifth-best pass-blocking tackle in the league.”

But the more I thought about it, the more my mind opened to the possibility (don’t you wish we heard that sentence more often in today’s political world? I digress…)

Our perceptions often lead to a false reality. We’ve been told over and over again that Newhouse is no good, so we probably assume that he’s just not that good, or at least nowhere near as good as the fifth-best pass-blocking tackle in football.

Since the Packers line has been shaky, and since most casual observers follow the ball and not the offensive line when watching games, it’s easy to assume that a big reason for the line’s struggles is Newhouse. He was supposed to be bad this season, so he must not be playing well if the line is struggling, right?

I didn’t go through and watch each and every snap from this season, but I did do a quick review of some film. I also used the footage that’s stored in my brain (unfortunately, football information takes up a lot of space in my brain, which leaves little space for information that’s actually useful in real life).

My conclusion: Newhouse has been fine. Not shutdown dominant, but more than adequate.

A Closer Look

Let’s go game by game. Actually, before we do that, think back in your head for a minute and ask yourself how many bad games you think Newhouse has had this season.

Done? Ok, now let’s go see how many actual bad games Newhouse has had (at least according to PFF):

  • Newhouse allowed one hurry and finished with a 3.0 pass-blocking grade against San Francisco.
  • He allowed two sacks against Chicago, but finished with a 0.2 pass-block rating.
  • The Seattle game was a complete disaster, one sack, two hurries and a -0.2 pass-block rating.
  • Newhouse allowed a single hurry and had a 2.2 rating against the Saints.
  • Against the Colts, Newhouse allowed a sack, but finished with a 2.4 rating.
  • No sacks, no hits, and no hurries (the o-lineman equivalent of a perfect game) and a 1.5 rating against the Texans.

In case you’re not keeping track, that’s eight pressures in a 263 pass-blocking snaps, a PBE rating of 97.3.

The Other Guys

Turns out, there is a tackle on the Packers line that’s sturggling, but it’s not Newhouse.

I already wrote about Bryan Bulaga’s struggles, and PFF agrees. Bulaga’s 92.6 PBE ranks 48th, near the bottom.

In case you’re wondering, here are the pass-blocking ratings for the rest of the line: T.J. Lang: 1.5; Josh Sitton: 7.5; Jeff Saturday: 2.5; Bulaga: -4.9.

As a team, the Packers have a 20.7 pass-block rating, allowing 19 sacks, nine QB hits and 36 hurries. Of those 36 hurries, Bulaga has allowed more than half (19).

Too Many Numbers! Help!

Now that we’re all drowning in them, what do these numbers tell us?

I think they tell us that when the Packers offensive line goes bad, it falls off a cliff. There’s no in-between. They’re either allowing eight sacks in a half to Seattle and melting down against Indianapolis, or completely stonewalling the Texans and Saints.

The numbers also tell us that if Bulaga rights himself, this line could get real good, real fast (the numbers might also tell us that Rodgers likes to hold onto the ball for a long time).

The Original Question

Getting back to the question asked in the title of this post: Is Marshall Newhouse as Good as his Pro Football Focus Numbers?

I say sure, why not?

He’s not dominant, but how many dominant tackles are there these days? A dominant left tackle has become a luxury, not a necessity. If the quarterback is good and somewhat mobile, he automatically makes the tackles better.

Instead of fretting about Newhouse, maybe it’s time we start raising our expectations of him.

Anybody can string together a few good games in a row like Newhouse has. If Newhouse wants to take the next step, he needs to make these first six games of the season his new norm.

Packers fans aren’t asking for the second coming of Anthony Munoz or Walter Jones. Somewhere in the neighborhood of Chad Clifton would be just fine.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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19 Responses to “Is Marshall Newhouse as Good as his Pro Football Focus Numbers?”

  1. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    If we take into account the reasons of how and why Newhouse became the LT and give a real analysis of what Newhouses’ expected position was supposed to be,the time frame which he was given to not only learn the position but rise to a level of adequate…he has done a more than adequate job.
    Many have expected an immediate dominate impact from him and are simply discouraged because their bar was set to high for the time frame and cicumstance.
    I have been a Newhouse supporter as much as a supporter for JJ and with a self gratifying pat on my own back…I believe I was and are still,right on both!

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    • Turophile says:

      Line up these legions who expected Newhouse to be immediately dominant this year and let us all look at them.

      They are ghosts, they don’t exist. You are arguing against a false premise. What many DID feel was that Newhouse might be adequate this year (in other words, not a liability). that is a very long walk from ‘immediately dominant’. He seems to have achieved that at least, with a little room to spare.

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      • Adam Czech says:

        Yeah, I don’t think people necessarily thought Newhouse was going to be a stud. But he’s usually the one they point to when talking about the Packers struggles up front because he’s the guy on the line that nobody has heard of.

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      • Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

        Wanting him benched,cut at every mishap last year is expecting an immediate impact.Many screamed it out loud and many hid it their writings.

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    • fatalflaw says:

      was, and AM still…sorry, anal.

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  2. David says:

    Basically we’ve been

    1) Spoiled by Clifton’s good years.
    2) Jealous of other teams that have a “Premier LT” like Cleveland… ignoring the fact that it is Cleveland.
    3) Thinking that Newhouse wouldn’t solve his issues (speed rushers and dominant pass rushing DE). #3 is still at least 1/2 true.

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  3. Buff says:

    Pass blocking is only one element. The elite LT are also excellent run blockers Since we run a modified ZBS run predominantly to the right side, how many times have we seen Newhouses man on the ground? Zero by my recollection.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  4. Dan says:

    What happened to Bulaga? I really thought he would make the pro bowl this year. I guess his stubby arms caught up with him

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  5. Adam Czech says:

    Wouldn’t surprise me if his knee is more gimpy than the Packers let on. Hopefully he comes around.

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    • Mike says:

      Agreed. He has played better since the Seattle game. It’s most likely the knee being more serious than Bulaga will admit and how much his technique slipped on occasion (He noted that as the reason for two of his sacks in Seattle). Granted, the best way to help these guys continue to improve is for McCarthy to call a balanced game.

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  6. Kahuna says:

    Marshall Newhouse regardless of any silly ratings by a publication, simply is not a Blue Chip NFL LT period. All you have to do is watch how many times he needs help to determine th dude is unstable. He’s a fill in for whomever we get in here to become a dominant LT protecting an MVP QB. Do you really want Newhouse protecting your MVP Franchise QB? Not me. The Return of Sherrod to FB shape can’t happen fast enough for me..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

    • Adam Czech says:

      Rodgers became an MVP QB w/ Newhouse at LT.

      Do you really want Derek Sherrod protecting your MVP QB?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • Barutan Seijin says:

      Why?

      If the guy’s doing the job — and doing it against the better defenses in the league — why replace him with an unknown? I don’t get it. Sherrod didn’t show anything special last year.

      I don’t know if i’m typical, but i do watch the lineman. I wasn’t surprised to see the Newhouse doing well because that generally agrees with what i saw in the games. Likewise, the Bulaga stats reflect the generally lousy performance i saw on the teevee.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. aaronqb says:

    On balance, I think Newhouse has been pretty good. His main job is to keep DEs and OLBs off Rodgers’ back and he’s done a good job. He is not a great run blocker, but guess what … neither was Clifton. The Packers are a passing team led by the best QB in NFL.

    Newhouse got a bad rap last year because he was thrown into the fire when Clifton went don. Other than the elites like JPP and J Allen, he held up just fine.

    On Bulaga … I’m willing to bet he’s playing injured or is hampered by the tendinitis. Sitton played thru it last year and had an off year. Bulaga, I think, is in the same boat. And, there’s no one on the bench ready to step in at this point.

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  8. Dan "FireMMNow" Blakley FireMMNow says:

    I would say objectively that the two worst lineman this year for the packers have been Bulaga and Saturday. The numbers say Bulaga and Lang. I would place some of Lang’s struggles on working with a new center in saturday. Bulaga has just been awful at times this year.

    Also, Newhouse has faced a murderers row so far this year. Aldon Smith, Julius Peppers, Dwight Freeney and Chris Clemons. It will not get easier in the second half when he will have Jared Allen (twice), Van den Bosch (twice), Julius Peppers again. But he has been fine so far this year. He struggles at times with pure power rushers, but he is getting better all the time. He is maybe not a top five tackle, but he is a very serviceable starter in the NFL.

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  9. Kevin says:

    Do you guys think Newhouse is the long-term answer at left tackle? Or will Sherrod take over? You’d like a first round pick to see the field, but it seems like Newhouse has the job for the foreseeable future

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Mike says:

      Competition will ensue once Sherrod gets back to full health. We’ll see what happens – Sherrod probably has more pure athleticism and physical ability than Newhouse, but he’s basically a year and a half behind Newhouse in experience. This offseason will be huge for Sherrod’s chances. But he will be important for Green Bay, be it this, next or a later season.

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  10. Slim11 says:

    As has been said, we were spoiled by Chad Clifton and his success. He had some growing pains as well. Every LT goes through this….some more than others.

    Sherrod’s return will not make things better immediately. What his return will do is push Newhouse a little more and, we hope, make both better in the process.

    Sherrod’s lost so much this season that I don’t expect significant contributions from him until 2013.

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  11. PissedoffinAZ says:

    I am technically-speaking totally unknowledgable. All I know is I have been screaming at Newhouse frequently this season, and when a know-nothing notices you’re screwing up, well what does that tell you?

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