During Monday night’s Washington-San Francisco game, former Eagles player personnel executive Phil Savage tweeted:
Then The Big Lead published “Robert Griffin III: Why Aren’t His Linemen Helping Him Up This Year?” and it got a ton of publicity. It noted that Griffin has been helped up by a teammate on just 3 of 26 sacks this year, with an implied conclusion that his teammates don’t like him anymore since there was a three game stretch last year where they helped him up 4 out of 5 times.
I’m personally fascinated by body language and how we subconsciously interact with people, so I found this concept really intriguing and wanted to look at how the Eagles O-Line has treated the three quarterbacks who’ve taken snaps this year for the Eagles. The results:
Number of times offered hand by teammate after sack (divided by) Opportunities to be helped up after sack, also excluding plays where no camera clearly showed what happened
Michael Vick: 7/13 54%
Nick Foles: 3/12 25%
Matt Barkley 0/3 0%
(Robert Griffin III: 5*/26 19%)
*Not the same as the 3/26 from above because this number includes times he ignored offers of help
How about Todd Herremans? Herremans is responsible for an impressive 7 of the Eagles’ 10 QB pick-ups. Jason Peters had 2, and LeSean McCoy had 1. And if you’re afraid this is because Herremans gave up a lot of sacks, that’s actually not the reason, as none of Herremans’ pickups came on sacks he surrendered (same with Peters and McCoy actually).
My counts are extremely unofficial. All of these samples are way too small to actually draw good conclusions from. And none of them are particularly meaningful when we have no idea what a typical rate is or how much it tends to vary from QB to QB or team to team.
With that in mind, I went and tried to get a better feel by watching three other quarterbacks around the league: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Mark Sanchez. These players were selected because, based on the hypothesis that your teammates help you if they like you, Brady and Manning seem like players that would be helped up a lot, and Sanchez not so much.
Like the data for the Eagles quarterbacks and for Griffin, these results are from the first 12 weeks of the 2013 season. I used the first 12 games of the 2012 season for Sanchez.
Peyton Manning: 6/11 55%
Tom Brady: 4/29 14%
Mark Sanchez: 6/20 30%
So clearly the Patriots hate Tom Brady, and the Jets actually don’t hate Sanchez that much. You can see these are ridiculous conclusions. Griffin’s pickup rate (19%) really doesn’t seem too anomalous, and it’s higher than Tom Brady’s who Shawn Andrews says is a QB who’d buy his linemen Mercedes), so I’m going to say that this is story is a big deal about nothing. Fun idea though.