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Mario's Kryptonite?

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I can't shake it. I close my eyes and there it is--Travis LaBoy blowing past Mario Henderson and nearly decapitating Jason Campbell. And even in my slow motion nightmare replays, Mario Henderson's dearth of quickness makes LaBoy look fast. Ugh....

For whatever it is worth, Mario always says the right things. When asked about almost getting his QB killed, Mario thusly replied:

I take responsibility. That’s my fault. The only thing I can do is get better. Thank God the injury is minor. All I can do, like they told me, is get better and move on. Just try not to let it happen again.... I even texted him. It was like, ‘I apologize. I hope you’re (Campbell) OK.’ He told me he was good. Like I said, now it’s behind me. We can just move on. It shows a lot of credit."

Campbell may be okay, but I'm not. Where's my text Mario?

I think we all know Mario needs to do better. Hell, even Sandra Bullock took time out from being cheated on to educate the non-football fan based public of the importance of the Left Tackle position.

This is not a new issue. The need vs. the lack of a need for an upgrade at LT was one of the more highly debated topics here during the off-season. This is not meant to be a platform to re-hash that debate.

At this point, it is an almost certainty that Mario will be the starting LT come Week One. This post is about the fear of my nightmare and one of the more commonly stated weaknesses of Mario's game: His struggles against the speedier pass rushers.

Given the fact that all of the other teams in the division, plus four other's of the Raiders 2010 opponents, plan on running the 3-4, this is a scary weakness for our LT to possess. That's 10 out of the 16 games the Raiders play where their opponents feature speedy OLB pass rushers.

With my nightmare growing in intensity with each passing thought, I decided to look back at Mario's 2009 and see how he fared against 3-4 based opponents.

Stats for Offensive Linemen are very unofficial. So, I am going to start with the broad and official numbers. The Raiders played 11 games against a 3-4 last season. They were 3-8 in those games and 2-3 against 4-3 teams.

  • The Raiders allowed on average an even 3 sacks a game in '09.
  • Against the 3-4 teams the Raiders gave up 29 sacks, which works out to 2.64 a game.
  • Against the 4-3 teams they allowed 19 sacks, which is 3.8 a game.
  • Against the 3-4 teams 19 sacks were by the OLB's, 4.5 by DE's, 2 NT's, 2 by DB's,1.5 by ILB's.
  • Against the 4-3 teams 9 sacks were by the DE's, 4 by OLB's, 3 by DB's, 2 by DT's, 1 by a MLB.

That's well over half of the sacks coming from the positions Tackles would likely be blocking. Of course, this doesn't account for which ones were on Mario's side or switches due to blitzing etc. Assigning these sacks a specific culprit is where the unofficial stats come into play.

  • ProFootballFocus has Mario tagged for giving up 8 sacks, while Stats has him for a league leading 10.5.

Only PFF has it broken down per game. Using their stats we find that Mario gave up:

  • .36 sacks, .73 QB hits and 3.1 QB pressures per game against 3-4 teams
  • 0.8 sacks, 1.6 QB hits and .8 QB pressures per game against 4-3 teams.

Using these numbers you'll see that:

  • 4.19 times per game against 3-4 teams Mario was beaten and
  • 3.2 times per game against 4-3 teams.

He got abused more against 3-4 teams, but his abuse had a much higher consequence against the 4-3 teams.

Take a quick look at his charted overall play by PFF. Again, this his overall play and takes into account running plays.

Player bar graph
  • Mario received an average rating of -2.1 per game against 3-4 based teams.
  • While earning a -1.9 against 4-3 based teams.

Essentially, it all comes down to a wash. Mario struggles against 4-3 and 3-4 teams without prejudice. I think I just put an end to my most recent nightmare, but I may have given birth to many more.