In the previous post, I mainly focused on correlation of two variables, with the average weight of the offensive line in the cross hairs. My findings were simply put: weight isn’t the most important thing. What matters is protecting the assets. I think of Warren Buffet’s famous wealth creation quote, “Rule No. 1: Never Lose Money. Rule No. 2: Never Forget Rule No. 1.” A team’s wealth creation or winning starts with the QB and the RB. So protect them and don’t forgot to protect them. That’s why left tackles make so much money.
As I have been writing these posts, I couldn’t help but recollect the size of my high school offensive line. We rarely passed, but when we did throw the ball it was a terrible scene. We couldn’t keep guys out of the backfield in the same way that Taylor Swift can’t keep out of stupid spats. I remember our QB being absolutely smashed or running for his 5’8″ 165 lbs. life. He was such a little guy. Big arm. Even had the last name for the job, “Manning”, but sorely missed out on having a good O-line. In our case, the size of the O-Line probably mattered a lot more than that of college athletes… mostly because our center was maybe 180 lbs.
Correlation is fun and all, but it is important to approach this extremely important question from another angle. To get started, I found 822 CFB games from this past season, where I had the scores and weights of the O-Line and the D-Line. This is important for you to know because it sounds like I know what I am doing. You trust me now. If you missed it, I stated that I gathered over 3,200 data points. Super impressive.
There should be two things you know so far: (1) This is an important discovery we are making together and (2) you trust me with absolute certainty. Now, let’s move on to charts!
I remember a teacher telling me that if the the title of the chart was too long it was not a good way to represent your data. Don’t believe everything you hear at school. The chart above shows that of the 822 wins, 56% happened when the winner had a bigger O-line than the opponent’s O-line. Or a team is 12% more likely to win a game if the offensive line is bigger than the opposing side. I would say this is a good advantage to have. If you gave me a 12% higher chance of winning the next power-ball ticket just by gaining weight, I would do it. While it’s not overwhelming (overwhelming to me would be like, 25%. That’s what my gut tells me…), it is still noteworthy.
An interesting finding is that the delta of the winning O-line v the losing O-line is +/-8 lbs. When the winning team weighs more, they average 8.3 lbs vs the opponent. When the winning team weighs less, they weigh on average -7.5 lbs under the opponent. I still find this range to be relatively small. Eight pounds distributed across the O-line isn’t much. However, having a heaver O-Line leads to an almost 4 point increase in the margin of victory. The larger O-Line averaged a margin of victory of ~20.1 points, while the smaller O-Line was at ~16.3. When this game is decided by botched extra points and missed 35 yard field goals, 4 points is no joke.
Finally, it is interesting to see the linear relationship in the average margin of victory when weight increases. This is shown below. The average loss margin in not quite as dramatic in it’s peaks and valleys. Its a smooth linear relationship, but also trend upwards. Meaning, the bigger the O-line the closer the game will be.
Reconciling these findings is not difficult. The offensive line is extremely important. These stats show that. Just watching a game makes it true. Spend an afternoon and just watch the offensive line.
Football is worshipped and praised because of it similarity to war. You hear phrases like, “in the trenches” or “the front lines”. While this form of having a “front” in warfare has changed substantially, the game of football is still an ode to the old ways. Waring parties line up opposite of each other and battle it out. Over and over. Crashing head to head repetitively. The rules of football have progressed and it has changed, but a fundamental part of this that isn’t going away is the importance of the offensive line. The trenches filled with mean, big, physical men.