The Case for Not Paying Orlando Brown Jr.

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Over the last month since the Chief’s second Super Bowl victory in four years, I’ve heard a lot of commentary from fans and writers arguing that we should re-sign Orlando Brown Jr. (and, to a lesser extent, Andrew Wylie) with the primary argument being their outstanding play in the big game. I’m not here to argue with anyone that both tackles played well in the Super Bowl. They did. (It is worth noting that the field was terrible and neither team’s pass rush was particularly effective, though how much that contributed to Brown/Wylie having a good game is pure speculation.) My frustration with these fans and writers is that people are putting so much emphasis on one game and forgetting the overall body of work that we’ve seen over the last six months. I’m going to work through some statistics courtesy of PFF that demonstrate the play of our tackles this past season, with a particular emphasis on Orlando Brown.

When evaluating OL play, many people emphasize sacks as a primary statistic. In the case of the Chiefs, however, I find this metric to be particularly useless because Patrick Mahomes is otherworldly at avoiding sacks. When Mahomes is pressured, a league-leading 9 of 10 times he isn’t sacked. To compare, other top QBs are sacked in pressure situations at rates of 14.5% (Tom Brady), 15.4% (Josh Allen), 21.2% (Jalen Hurts),  and 22.9% (Joe Burrow). Instead of sacks, I prefer to look at pressures, which take into account hurries, hits, and sacks.

Pressures By Week

Pressures Allowed Chart

The above chart shows a week-by-week comparison of Brown and Wylie’s pressures allowed. The league average for the week is limited in its usefulness, as matchups make a huge difference and a single week is a small sample size, but I did include it for another data point. The immediate thing I noticed from this data is the inconsistency of both tackles during the season. They both had terrible games against Buffalo and Tennessee. Brown also had rough games against Arizona and Cincinnati (in the conference championship). They both had some good games as well, though usually not on the same week.

Pressures Allowed vs. Average Chart

While I’d reiterate the the league average pressures statistic is somewhat limited, this chart is interesting in that it shows how Brown and Wylie did compared to the average on a week-by-week basis. A positive number means they gave up more pressures than average; a negative number means they gave up fewer pressures than average. Similarly to the first chart, what I see here is a lot of inconsistency from both tackles. Both tackles gave up fewer than average pressures 25% (5 of the 20) of the weeks on the chart. Both tackles gave up more than average pressures 25% (5 of the 20) of the weeks on the chart. In the other 50% of the games, one tackle was above the weekly average and the other was below the weekly average.

“Snaps Per” Statistics

In addressing Orlando Brown specifically, I started by looking at total numbers on PFF. Among tackles, Brown led the league with 58 pressures allowed. (Wylie was second at 54, for what it’s worth.) The next guy on the list is Tennessee’s Dennis Daley with 52. But the fatal flaw in the “total number” method is that OBJ had 893 pass blocking snaps in 20 games, while Daley had only 508 pass blocking snaps in 16 games. I also wanted to account for the LT position specifically, because while Brown very well might be a better RT than LT, he has been (and probably will be going forward) exclusively a LT since coming to KC.

To address these issues, I filtered the dataset down to LT only who had played at least 300 pass blocking snaps in 2022, and I calculated “Snaps Per” stats for each of the major pressure categories (sacks, hits, hurries, and overall pressures). In each of these stats, a bigger number is better than a smaller number. So for example, in the “Snaps per Sack” category, the value “100” would mean that the LT surrendered a sack on average once in one hundred pass blocking snaps, while a value “500” would mean that the LT surrendered a sack on average only once in five hundred pass blocking snaps. Also, although I didn’t take the time to make these charts for multiple seasons, I did plug OBJ’s 2021 numbers into the data so we can see his 2021 compared to the 2022 stats of the rest of the league. Let’s look at the data.

Snaps Per Sack

Snaps Per Sack Chart

First, note that Bakhtiari (11 games) and Humphries (8 games) didn’t allow a sack this year, so both players don’t appear on the chart. This chart might be the strongest argument for Orlando Brown (though I did address Mahomes’ superpowers earlier), as Brown was #8 of 31 in the league this year in the snaps per sack statistic, allowing one sack every 223 pass blocking snaps on average. The 2021 version of OBJ would have been #13 of 31 in the league this year, as he allowed a sack every 153 pass blocking snaps on average. So depending on how much you credit Mahomes for avoiding sacks, Brown is a top-15 and possibly top-10 tackle in this statistic. Unfortunately, sacks are not the only measurement of OL play.

Snaps Per Hit

Snaps Per Hit Chart

This is where it starts to get uglier. Although Brown was decent in 2022 at not giving up sacks, he was #23 of 31 in the league allowing a QB hit every 89 pass blocking snaps on average. His 2021 numbers were worse, and those would have put him at #26 of 31 this year.

Snaps Per Hurry

Snaps Per Hurry Chart

Once again, Brown came in at #27 of 31 in the league in 2022 by allowing a hurry every 20 pass blocking snaps on average. Interestingly enough, his 2021 numbers were significantly better (+15 snaps better), as they would have put him at #6 of 31 this year.

Snaps Per Pressure

Snaps Per Pressure Chart

This final “Snaps Per” chart combines all of sacks, hits, and hurries to look at overall pressures. In 2022, Orlando Brown was #27 of 31 LTs by allowing a pressure every 15 pass blocking snaps on average. While 2021 was better, he still would have been outside the top 10 as #13 of 31.

The point of all these charts is simple: Brown is not a top 10 LT with the Chiefs. And in 2022, I would contend that he wasn’t a top half of the league LT. Three rookies (Carolina’s Ekwonu, Dallas’ Smith, and Indy’s Raimann) had a better snaps per pressure number than OBJ. The only LTs with a worse number were another three rookies and Tennessee’s Daley.

Pay The Man?

I’m not a great capologist, so I won’t spend time trying to project Brown’s potential contract and how it stacks up to other players going forward. But I will bring forward another interesting piece of evidence that indicates in my mind that Brown isn’t worth a large contract.

On the following chart, you’ll see the “Snaps Per Pressure” number on the Y axis and the 2022 salary cap hit on the X axis. The top left-hand corner of the chart would be players whose cap number is low compared to their “Snaps Per Pressure” number: they are players with the best value. The top right-hand corner of the chart would be players who have a high cap number but also have a good “Snaps Per Pressure” number: they have average value. The lower left-hand corner would be players who have a poor “Snaps Per Pressure” number but also have a low cap hit: they too have average value. Lastly, the lower right-hand corner is players who have a poor “Snaps Per Pressure” number but have a high cap hit: these players are the worst value.

2022 Cap vs. Snaps Per Pressure Chart

Orlando Brown was the worst LT value in football this past year. He counted $16.6m against the cap, but allowed pressures on every 15 pass blocking snaps on average (#27 of 31). The LTs in the bottom half of the league in this statistic (#16-#31) had an average cap hit of $3.6m with the top cap hit being Washington’s Charles Leno at $8.5m in 2022. The players on either side of him in the snaps per pressure statistic were making $3.9m (Charles Cross) and $1.3m (Josh Jones). Jake Matthews, the closest player to Brown in 2022 cap hit, was the #4 of 31 LT, allowing pressure every 30 pass blocking snaps on average. Orlando Brown is an outlier any way that you look at it: either he’s being paid too much for his low performance, or he’s not performing up to his high pay. Whichever it is, Brown did not even provide average value this last season.

Conclusion

Please let someone else pay Orlando Brown. Maybe these two years were an outlier, but he hasn’t yet shown that he’s a top-10 LT in the two years that he’s been in Kansas City. And given the evidence that a LT on a rookie contract can likely come in and be better than Orlando Brown at protecting the QB (if not as a rookie, after a year of experience), I see no reason to continue to pay top-5 money for bottom half of the league play. Tag-and-trade Brown if Veach thinks he can get something back for him better than a comp pick, but don’t handicap the franchise with a bad long-term contract.

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rip58
03/06/2023 2:51 pm

This needs on the front page….. great article…

Tony Sommer
Reply to  Slayer0810
03/06/2023 3:35 pm

I’ll see if I can fix it up tonight. Great stuff!

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