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Anyone Remember Mathnet?: Fun w/ #s

I loved that segment.

Let's take a look at where Football Outsiders ranks the Hawks in some important offensive line metrics and what it might mean.

The Hawks are ranked 24th in adjusted line yards. That's Football Outsiders attempt to separate the run blocking from the running back it blocks for. For those who've kvetched about the Hawks run blocking, this is an important piece of evidence supporting your case. Notably the Hawks are 27th in Power Success and 26th in FO's Stuffed category. From the site, this is what that means:

# Power Success: Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.  This is the only statistic on this page that includes quarterbacks.

# Stuffed: Percentage of runs that result in (on first down) zero or negative gain or (on second through fourth down) less than one-fourth the yards needed for another first down.  Since being stuffed is bad, teams are ranked from stuffed least often (#1) to most often (#32).

The Hawks' opponents rank 17th, 3rd, 21st and 7th, sequentially, in defensive Adjusted Line Yards. That appears to be a very tough schedule of run defenses, but I think we'll see a lot of change in those figures as the season progresses.

As might be expected, Seattle's primary rusher, Shaun Alexander, has a 43% success rating--well below average. No other Hawk qualifies for this metric, so we aren't left with much info to compare. In other words, from this information it cannot be said conclusively whether Alexander is hurting the line's rating or if the line's run blocking is hurting Alexander.

With a 40% opponent adjustment, Seattle ranks 14 in offensive line Adjusted Sack Rank. The four teams Seattle has faced rank 17th, 9th, 28th and 8th, sequentially, in the complimentary statistic defensive line Adjusted Sack Rank. 9th for Arizona and 8th for San Francisco? Darnell Dockett is breaking out in a big way for the Cardinals, but the Niners ranking should sag with recent injuries. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they end the year ranked in the twenties.

In the heated Alexander debate this provides essentially no conclusions. It's so early in the season it's pretty hard to tell who's to credit and who's to blame on any given statistic. These stats are also victim to a small sample size. The Cardinals 3rd ranked line rating in rush defense looks like an aberration, but then they held Willie Parker to just 37 yards on 19 rushes. Twenty of which came on one run. With Dockett breaking out, it's possible they hold onto some of these gains. I expect Cincinnati and San Francisco to retreat both in run defense and pass rush metrics. If they do, it will give some indication that Seattle's poor rushing offense is artificially inflating their early opponents' run defense rankings. If they don't, Alexander could break out as early as week 6 against the 31st ranked rush defense, the New Orleans Saints.