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Introducing GOBI: an exclusive stat to measure how well your NFL team can block

RealSport are delighted to introduce a new stat, exclusive to our site, that explains why one team no-one was expecting to be any good this

RealSport are delighted to introduce a new stat, exclusive to our site, that explains why one team no-one was expecting to be any good this year has turned it around and been competitive in the NFL. We are proud to introduce the Gaskin Offensive Blocking Index.

When it comes to sports stats, baseball is king – but American football isn’t far behind these days. Passer rating was officially adopted by the NFL in 1973 as a way of measuring quarterback success, and in 2011, ESPN developed “Total QBR” as an additional metric for QB play. Even casual fans these days will point to basic stats such as yards-per-carry or third-down-conversion when arguing over their favorite players or teams, and at least two organizations have managed to make careers out of more advanced football stats – FootballOutsiders and ProFootballFocus.

For all the fancy stats, there’s a well-known adage that football is ultimately a game of blocking and tackling. For tackling, there’s a whole range of stats out there, from a simple tally of solo and assisted tackles all the way up to FootballOutsiders’ “Defeats”. Yet when it comes to blocking, there are far fewer statistics out there, and even then, blocking-related stats tend to be insular, looking at specific aspects of the game, and even then you need to dig deep to find them (especially now that ProFootballFocus are making most of their signature stats unavailable to anyone due to a new deal they’ve reached with the NFL).

So in 2012, there were some tiny ripples caused when a little-known NFL blog, The Pulling Linemen, introduced a single statistic that collated all the blocking-related stats into a single figure that would show just how good a team were blocking. That stat, developed by TPL co-founder Phil Gaskin, was called OLR, or Offensive Line Rating. It reached some notability, being featured several times by organizations such as ESPN and SB Nation throughout the 2012 season. OLR, unfortunately, never really caught on, and the whole of that blog wound down after the 2013 season – though two of the three writers are now part of the RealSport writing staff, including yours truly.

Well, today I’m proud to announce that OLR has been modified and tweaked slightly, and is now officially back – and EXCLUSIVE to RealSport. Since it’s been changed slightly, and to reflect that the stat is about more than just the five offensive linemen – and, of course, in tribute to its creator – we have renamed the stat. Welcome to GOBI: the Gaskin Offensive Blocking Index.

GOBI looks at a few key areas to measure blocking, puts them into a specific formula designed by Phil Gaskin, adds an adjustment to account for the strength of the opposing defense, and results in a single number that tells you just how good (or bad) each team’s offensive blocking is. Stats used in the formula include yards-per-carry, rushing TDs, rushing first downs, negative runs, sacks and QB hits.

In order to have a good GOBI score, a team needs to be effective at both run blocking and pass protection – doesn’t matter how well your team blocked for their running backs if the QB’s under constant harassment, and vice-versa. You can read more about GOBI at Phil’s excellent post introducing OLR. In case you’re wondering too, when Phil reviewed OLR at the conclusion of the 2012 season, it proved that there WAS a correlation between a higher OLR score, and how many games a team won, making this a hugely valuable metric. The GOBI scores themselves are simple enough: a positive score is good, a negative score is bad. There’s no finite range for GOBI scores either – if a team has a phenomenal day blocking, their score could be well over 100; likewise, a terrible day at the office could be worse than -100.

From now until the end of the season, we’ll be ranking how well each team did that week at blocking, as well as keeping a cumulative score for the season. Due to the nature of the formula, individual weeks’ GOBI scores could be hugely high or low, but season-long stats will feature less astronomical scores.

Finally, before we reveal the Week 10 GOBI scores, as well as the GOBI scores for this season so far, RealSport are also excited to announce that we’ve re-jigged the formula slightly to produce a second exclusive, brand new, never-before-seen statistic – DUI, or “Defensive Unblockability Index”. DUI will use the GOBI formula in the “opposite direction” to see which defenses are the most unblockable in the league. DUI will be introduced in a second post later on today. And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…. the Week 10 GOBI scores!

  1. Kansas City Chiefs, GOBI: 56.53
  2. Chicago Bears, GOBI: 48.81
  3. Seattle Seahawks, GOBI: 46.50
  4. Baltimore Ravens, GOBI: 34.63
  5. Oakland Raiders, GOBI: 19.89
  6. Buffalo Bills, GOBI: 18.96
  7. New York Jets, GOBI: 11.31
  8. New York Giants, GOBI: 10.91
  9. Tennessee Titans, GOBI: 10.37
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars, GOBI: 10.19
  11. Houston Texans, GOBI: -0.15
  12. Arizona Cardinals, GOBI: -1.85
  13. Minnesota Vikings, GOBI: -16.78
  14. Carolina Panthers, GOBI: -20.02
  15. Detroit Lions, GOBI: -22.20
  16. Cincinnati Bengals, GOBI: -26.34
  17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, GOBI: -33.18
  18. Miami Dolphins, GOBI: – 33.76
  19. Denver Broncos, GOBI: -36.19
  20. Dallas Cowboys, GOBI: -38.59
  21. Washington Redskins, GOBI: -40.53
  22. Philadelphia Eagles, GOBI: -45.06
  23. New England Patriots, GOBI: -46.17
  24. Green Bay Packers, GOBI: -49.36
  25. St Louis Rams, GOBI: -49.94
  26. New Orleans Saints, GOBI: -54.54
  27. Cleveland Browns, GOBI: -54.85
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers, GOBI: -68.80

Some of those numbers may look a little surprising – three of the top five were teams that lost last week – so lets dig a little deeper. The Chiefs’ high number was down to a number of factors. One of the most telling was that they didn’t allow a single negative run all game, and they had an above-average eight rushing first downs. The biggest factor, however, was that they were facing the Broncos, who are currently 4th in the NFL in DUI – and were 1st in the NFL before this game. Because GOBI adjusts the score based on how good or bad the opposing defense is, this had a big effect on the Chiefs’ GOBI.

Similarly, the Steelers’ incredibly low GOBI despite beating the Browns was a reflection of them facing the second-worst defense in the league. This amplified what was already a pretty low score, thanks primarily to only getting 2.9 yards-per-carry and not a single rushing touchdown.

The flipside is the second-worst GOBI of the week, which were the Browns themselves. The Steelers have one of the best DUIs in the league – currently fifth – and so you’d expect that to help their GOBI score. Well, it did help their GOBI score – they may have an adjusted GOBI of -54.85, but their raw GOBI score was -100. It’s not hard to see why – they averaged just 1.1 yards per carry, also didn’t score a rushing touchdown, picked up just two first downs on the ground, had five negative runs, and more egregiously, gave up six sacks and eight QB hits. Even the defensive adjustment wasn’t enough to save the Browns from having a truly terrible GOBI score.

One last team to illustrate how GOBI works – the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers scored two rushing touchdowns and had ten rushing first downs, so you might have expected a high GOBI score for them; however, they also allowed Cam Newton to be sacked five times and hit seven times. This demonstrates that good rushing stats aren’t enough to get a high GOBI score – you need to be able to protect your QB too! The Panthers couldn’t, and once we included an adjustment for facing the 19th-ranked defense in DUI, Carolina came out with a score of -20.02

As you can see, GOBI is a stat that allows you to see instantly how good a team is at blocking, in both the running and passing games. We feel it’s a revolutionary stat, in that it finally brings attention to one element of football that allows an offense to move the ball – the blocking! Below is the GOBI for all 32 teams over the season so far:

  1. Oakland Raiders, GOBI: 22.28
  2. Cincinnati Bengals, GOBI: 13.41
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers, GOBI: 8.60
  4. Carolina Panthers, GOBI: 6.97
  5. Kansas City Chiefs, GOBI: 6.11
  6. Baltimore Ravens, GOBI: 4.94
  7. Buffalo Bills, GOBI: 2.84
  8. Green Bay Packers, GOBI: 1.30
  9. Arizona Cardinals, GOBI: 0.48
  10. New England Patriots, GOBI: 0.03
  11. Indianapolis Colts, GOBI: -0.17
  12. New York Jets, GOBI: -0.34
  13. Minnesota Vikings, GOBI: -1.20
  14. Philadelphia Eagles, GOBI: -1.29
  15. Washington Redskins, GOBI: -5.50
  16. St Louis Rams, GOBI: -7.15
  17. Dallas Cowboys: -7.24
  18. Miami Dolphins: -7.52
  19. Chicago Bears: -7.95
  20. Denver Broncos: -10.53
  21. New York Giants: -12.35
  22. Seattle Seahawks: -12.67
  23. San Diego Chargers: -13.26
  24. New Orleans Saints: -13.38
  25. San Francisco 49ers: -13.69
  26. Houston Texans: -13.79
  27. Atlanta Falcons: -15.24
  28. Jacksonville Jaguars: -15.81
  29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: -16.15
  30. Cleveland Browns: -23.54
  31. Detroit Lions: -24.49
  32. Tennessee Titans: -36.72

And now we come to something really interesting. People might have expected the Raiders to improve a little bit as Derek Carr matured, but not many were expecting them to be as competitive as they’ve been this season. GOBI reveals certainly one of the factors in why the Raiders are playing so well – simply put, they are blocking better than any other team in the NFL right now.

We can see how GOBI correlates to other stats out there. The Broncos, despite being 7-2, have the 28th-ranked offense at the moment – and that’s reflected in, and at least partially explained by, their GOBI of -10.53.

The Lions fired both their offensive line coaches eight weeks into the season – and you can see why, with them having the 31st-ranked GOBI of -24.49. The Bengals and Panthers, 8-1 and 9-0, are both in the top five – and the other perfect team, the Patriots, may be explained by GOBI’s sister stat, DUI, when we launch it later tonight.

So, there you have it. The missing stat in football – now you know exactly how good your team is in blocking. We looking forward to sharing GOBI with you for the rest of the season, and many seasons to come!

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Gur Samuel

Hi! I'm Gur and I'm RealSport's Editor-in-Chief. I'm also currently the site's tennis editor, and contribute to our NFL, wrestling and Formula 1 coverage as well. I'm also an NFL analyst for CNN International and contributor to SB Nation, and have contributed to, or been interviewed by, various print, broadcast and online media, including Sky News, the BBC, Al Jazeera, Mail Online, ABC, NBC, CBS, USA Today, the Boston Globe, and Yahoo! Sports.

Introducing GOBI: an exclusive stat to measure how well your NFL team can block

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