Who has been a better left tackle, Hopkins or Roos?

Photo by Andrew Strickert for Total Titans
Is Michael Roos better than Brad Hopkins was? Photo by Andrew Strickert for Total Titans

We resume updating our Total Titans All-Time Titans team at the left tackle position.  Our original team, selected in the summer of 2008, had Brad Hopkins at that position, with Michael Roos as the runner up.  Roos was one of the young Titans who didn’t make our first team but was considered to have a good chance to eventually make our team.

Roos had the best season of his career in 2008 with a Pro Bowl trip and second-team All-Pro selection.  However, he hasn’t been as good since then.  Has his five year body of work been good enough to merit selection to our All-Time team?  We’ll ask you to be the judge of that.

I’ve compiled some stats on both of them, which gives us some basis for comparison, whatever that may be worth.  Some people believe that stats are best used when looked at to support their observations.  When they don’t, it’s sometimes due to other factors, which can be enlightening.  Other people just like to use stats as conversation pieces.  Whatever your viewpoint, we’ll look at some of Hopkins’ and Roos’ stats, after the jump.

First, to compare run-blocking stats, I’ve gathered the left tackle Adjusted Line Yards from Football Outsiders for the years 1997-2010.  (Hopkins’ stats as a Houston Oiler are not included, as we are only considering what a player has done in Tennessee.)  Hopkins started in 130 games in this period, missing the other 14, so it’s a fair assumption that 130/144 of the responsibility for these stats, or 90%, are his.

Tennessee left tackle run-blocking stats, 1997-2005
Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Average
Adjusted Line Yards 4.85 4.06 4.64 3.91 2.34 4.32 3.86 4.25 3.60 3.98
NFL rank 6 15 5 17 31 14 22 20 26 17.3
Games by Hopkins 16 13 16 15 14 14 16 11 15 14.4
Tennessee left tackle run-blocking stats, 2006-2010
Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Average
Adjusted Line Yards 3.25 4.87 4.35 3.55 2.82 3.77
NFL rank 31 6 11 29 32 21.8
Games by Roos 16 16 16 16 16 16

Second, I wanted to see how both Hopkins and Roos fared in pass protection.  Unfortunately, the best I’ve come up with is looking at sacks allowed to the best pass rushers each faced twice a year within their divisions and how those players fared against others.  OK, sacks are more of a quarterback stat than an offensive line stat but absent more relevant data, this does serve the need somewhat.

Hopkins faced three top pass rushers in the old AFC Central Division – Jacksonville’s Tony Brackens from 1997-2001, Baltimore’s Michael McCrary from 1997-2001, and Pittsburgh’s Joey Porter from 2000-2001.  Indianapolis’ Dwight Freeney was the only top pass rusher Hopkins faced in the AFC South, from 2002 through his final season in 2005.

Here’s how each of them fared against Hopkins compared to how they fared versus the rest of the league.

McCrary had 39 total sacks in 73 games from 1997-2003.  7½ of those were against Tennessee, in 10 games, or 0.75 sacks per game.  This means McCrary had 31½ in 63 games against others, or 0.5 sacks per game.  Clearly, McCrary fared much better against Hopkins than he did against the rest of the league.  Hopkins started in each of those 10 games, so I have to assume he was responsible for most of those sacks.

Brackens had 41 sacks in 71 games from 1997-2001, including 2½ in 7 games against the Titans (Brackens missed 3 of the 10 games versus Tennessee.)  This gives us 38½ sacks in 64 games versus the rest of the league, or 0.6 sacks per game.  Brackens didn’t do as well vs Hopkins, with 0.34 sacks per game.

Porter burst onto the scene with 10½ sacks in his 2000 rookie campaign and followed that up with 9 more sacks in 2001.  None of those sacks came against Hopkins or the Titans.

Freeney accumulated 51 sacks in 63 games from 2002-2005.  He had 10 sacks in 8 games against the Titans, but 3 of those came in a game in which Hopkins didn’t play (he was replaced by Jason Mathews), which gives us 7 sacks in as many games vs Hopkins and 44 sacks in 55 games, or 0.8 sacks per game, against everyone else.

These stats suggest Hopkins had more trouble against McCrary and Freeney than other tackles did, but he outperformed other tackles when blocking Brackens and Porter.

Freeney wasn’t as good in 2006 and 2007 but rebounded with 34 sacks in 45 games from 2008-2010.  Three of those sacks came in five games against the Titans, or 0.6 per game.  He had 31 in 40 games against others, or 0.78 per game, so he didn’t do as well against Roos as he did against others in those three years.

If we want to make a head to head comparison here, Freeney averaged one sack per game when facing Hopkins but only 0.6 sacks per game from 2008-2010 against Roos. (Again, I am not considering Freeney’s stats in 2006-2007, since he wasn’t a top pass rusher against anybody.)

The other top pass rusher Roos has faced is Mario Williams, who’s had 43½ sacks in 61 games.  Williams had 6½ sacks in 7 games against the Titans, leaving 37 sacks in 54 games against others.  We can see that Williams did better against Tennessee (0.93 sacks per game) than other teams (0.69 sacks per game) though Williams didn’t always line up at RDE against Roos.

Of course, we don’t know how often he moved around against other teams, just as we don’t know many other factors in all of the above data.  These other factors include the number of times a tight end or back helped out, how often the rushers employed twists, stunts and other games, and how often hurries and quarterback hits were applied.

You’ve probably seen both Hopkins and Roos many times.  Now that you’ve looked at some stats as well, what do you think?  Who has been the better left tackle and which of them should be on our All-Time Tennessee team?  A new poll is up and we also invite discussion in the comments section.

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