December 16, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) against Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Breno Giacomini (68) at the Rogers Centre. Seattle defeated Buffalo 50-17. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Reassessing The Value Of Breno Giacomini

December 16, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) against Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Breno Giacomini (68) at the Rogers Centre. Seattle defeated Buffalo 50-17. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit that the number people commenting on this site the last few days in support of Breno Giacomini greatly surprised me. I’ve become used to a generally level of unabashed Breno-hate on the web. I had come to believe I was one of his “supporters” simply because I didn’t want him run out of town on the first available bus.

Views on Breno are obviously disparate. My views land on the side that he’s fairly mediocre and should be replaced as a starter if the team can find a suitable player. I’m also not always right (obviously!), and am willing examine the possibility that I’ve been selling Giacomini’s ability and performance short.

Since I didn’t have 48+ hours (or about 16 if I watched the condensed versions) available to go through all of the Seahawks tape while writing this, I decided to use the data available from Pro Football Focus. They grade every player on every play, so their performance ratings are very comprehensive. I’ve found that their player grades are the best of the advanced metrics that are out there.

Here is a snapshot Giacomini’s performance from 2012 according to PFF. I also compared him to the other full time offensive tackles. (43 qualifying players who played at least 75% of their team’s offensive snaps)

Category Value Players worse
Penalties 12 2
QB Hurries 36 7
QB Sacks 5 18
PFF Ratings    
Overall -11.6 4
Run Blocking -1.9 11
Pass Blocking -5.3 5
Pass Block Efficiency 93 4

I have to say, the data here is pretty clear. There weren’t a lot of offensive tackles that played worse than he did in 2012. It wasn’t just penalties either. Giacomini wasn’t very good in any aspect of the game. If anything, my view that he was a little below average may have been giving him too much credit.

So lets get this over with. Time to dispel some myths:

Myth 1: He’s a road grader in the running game.

He’s not. Giacomini ended the year with a negative performance rating in run blocking. He was also 32st of 43 full time offensive tackles in run blocking. If you remove the left tackles from the list (which are usually there for their pass blocking) it looks even worse. There were only four right tackles in the NFL that ended the season with a worse performance rating for run blocking.

While run blocking might be his strength, he’s still in the bottom 25% in the NFL.

Myth 2: His pass blocking isn’t that bad for a right tackle.

The above data is pretty clear. He’s among the worst pass blockers in the entire NFL. Even if you look at only right tackles (which are usually not as good as left tackles in terms of pass blocking) it’s still bad. Only two starting right tackles finished with lower pass blocking performance ratings.

Myth 3: His penalty problems got better over the course of the season.

The data doesn’t support this. He had seven penalties in the first half, and five in the second half. He had a negative performance score for penalties in five games in the first half, and four in the second half. That sounds like improvement, but it isn’t statistically significant (which means that the change isn’t enough that it can’t be distinguished from random variance).

The real change was the number of penalty yards given up. Instead of 15 yard personal foul penalties, he was giving up 10 yard holding penalties and 5 yard false start penalties. This leads to the perception that the penalty situation is improved much more than it might have been.

Is Giacomini improving?

This is an interesting question. If he is, then dealing with his shortcomings becomes easier because we can expect better things from him in the future. In this case, the data is fairly inconclusive.

The thing that jumps out to me is that he was more consistent, and had more aspects of his game that were positive in the second half. That suggests improvement. He also had his second worst game of the season in week 17, which suggests otherwise.

The difficult part in trying to learn anything meaningful from the data is that the talent of the opposing team isn’t included. That stretch of generally positive results for Giacomini came during the “soft” part of the Seahawk’s schedule. Did he actually play better? Or was this simply the case of looking better because he played against inferior defenders? I’m not sure.

Like I said above, the data is inconclusive. I think most people will look at that chart and see whatever they thought before looking at the data. It’s called confirmation bias. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Back to whether or not he’s improving. We are talking about a guy who has been in the league for five years. Few players ever improve significantly this far into their career. There is also no discernible change from his 2011 performance data. Both of these facts suggest that even if he does improve for 2013, it would be unreasonable to expect drastic improvement. It could happen, but logic and history suggest it’s exceedingly unlikely.

But what about attitude/intangibles?

This is where Giacomini has the edge. He’s a full-effort guy. He’s mean. He blocks through (and sometimes past) the whistle. These are good things. I like the “edge” that he brings. His demeanor and attitude are a good fit for the running game.

But is that enough?

One thing that I keep hearing about is the positive things that Pete Carroll and Tom Cable said about Breno last season.  I honestly think people are reading too much into those statements. You have to take into account the context of what was going on.

Carroll and Cable were getting pounded by questions about Giacomini’s negative performance. Of course they’re going to be positive. That’s their job. They aren’t going to throw one of their starters under the bus. That isn’t how the NFL works. It’s what we like to call “coach speak,” and Carroll is a master of it.

Also, if you look at the quotes, Carroll praised Breno’s attitude and effort, but not his play. Cable said that Giacomini was the one guy he’d want in a street fight with him, but since when does street fighting correlate to being an NFL tackle?

I think people are reading too much into these quotes, but that’s just my opinion

So what does this all mean?

I think the take-away from all of this is that the Seahawks need to find a long-term solution at the position. Giacomini simply isn’t a quality NFL offensive tackle. There isn’t a nicer way for me to put it.

The Seahawks also know what they have in Breno. They know they can win even if he continues to play at a low level. There’s trust there. I believe that this is why he’s still on the roster. If an upgrade can’t be found, they know they can roll with him at right tackle for another year.

He’s also entering the final year of his contract, and is due significantly more than his play would indicate. The Seahawks need to free up some cap room, and could generate $3.5 million in cap room by replacing him with a rookie or cheap veteran. So while Breno is safe now, that doesn’t mean he’ll remain so.

Ultimately, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Giacomini not make the 53 man roster. As long as there is someone who can replace his production (which the above data suggests shouldn’t be hard to find), then there’s no reason to keep his inflated contract on the books.

Tags: Breno Giacomini Featured Pete Carroll Popular Seattle Seahawks

  • Hanley H. Bonynge

    Damn dude. When you put it like that…….

    Well done.

    • 12thMan_Rising

      You know I’m a data-driven dude. I’m in the camp that believes that the number don’t lie. In this case, I kinda wish they did. I love the fire he brings to the line.

  • upstateNYfan

    He brings a nasty attitude… that’s something that can’t be graded… but is help full when you are playing ground and pound…

    • 12thMan_Rising

      This is very true. I tried to mention that. It does offset some of his lack of production. I’m just not sure it’s enough.

      That’s just my opinion though. I have no problem with anyone disagreeing.

  • GreyLion

    Every down is a street fight on the line in the NFL. A good street fighter is essential if you are going to win a street fight.

    • 12thMan_Rising

      Blocking in the NFL is also about technique. Attitude alone doesn’t stop opposing pass rushers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jim.kelly.3511041 Jim Kelly

      I’ve taught martial arts/self-defense since 2001 (I had nine years of training prior to that.), and I teach my students that any emotion, especially anger, will help you win a fight against an inferior opponent, or one with a similar skillset. But it can hurt, more than help you against a superior opponent.

      The NFL’s a little different. Everyone is good at their job. Everyone is prepared. You can do more to elevate your success, but there is a limit.

      I like Breno Giacomini, and I want him to succeed. I love how he fights through every play. But when he runs into someone better, he’s just not always able to win the fight.

  • Trakar

    Name and provide compelling evidence of a starting caliber RT who has Giacomini’s attitude, is several years short of 30, who is affordable/available, who can step into our system smoothly, and who plays significantly better,…and I’ll pay much closer attention to your evaluation of the position as it stands.

    • 12thMan_Rising

      Breno isn’t “several years short of 30.” He’ll play next season at 28. He’s also not “affordable” with a $4.25 cap number for one of the worst performing RTs in the NFL last season.

      Eric Winston would be a massive upgrade, as would 10-15 players in the draft.

      • Coug1990

        I think this statement is a bit much. Seriously, 10-15 players in the draft can step in next year and be better than Brenno? Whether you like it or not, BG is a starter in the NFL. There are not 10-15 rookies that are good enough to be starters next season. I doubt there are 10-15 OT’s from this draft that will end up being starters.

        • 12thMan_Rising

          you’re probably right there. i’d say it’s closer to 8. He might have been a starter, but should he have been? He was one of the worst RTs in the league. That’s not exactly something that is tough to replace.

      • Trakar

        This does not address the issues I requested, I see no listed, personnel, who would be able to step in, this year as starters in our system who are available and affordable, enough years under 30 that they would be more than a one year stop-gap and who could put up the attitude and numbers to make it reasonable to dump Breno.

        Winston would be 30 before the end of regular season, would be more expensive than Breno, has had serious knee injuries in his past, and the only attitude he has ever demonstrated is against his own team’s fans. In his own words “People pleaser, do gooder, and aspiring golfer,” not a better Breno, more like an emotionally softer, prettier Breno, not what we need.

        This isn’t just about getting rid of a player that doesn’t put up some of the numbers you’d prefer, it is about insuring continuity on an improving O-line in a year when we have a better shot at a deep run than any in franchise history. It is about building on a team attitude and personality, it is about replacing a player who inspires “seahawks football” in his team-mates.

        I am not, at all, against replacing Giacomini, as long as it can be done in a way that does not involve regressing our oline, or short-term stop gap replacements with older players on their last leg, or players who cannot contribute any of those other harder to measure issues of team attitude and team-mate influence that are what make some of Breno’s less than stellar position stats more acceptable.

        Give me some names that fill these qualifications and I’ll find your evaluations more interesting. Or not, the choice is yours. I’m not in favor of getting rid of any player simply to get rid of that player, I am interested in improving the team. Show me valid and viable improvement players that not only have better numbers but bring at least the same level of other factors that exist in the player that would be replaced.

        • 12thMan_Rising

          I never said the team should dump him. I said the team to look to find a long term replacement. there’s a difference. That provides that if the draft doesn’t fall in a way where the get one, then they can keep Giacomini for 2013.

          Attitude is being over rated here. Talent and technique are more important factors for NFL success as an offensive linemen. All three must be balanced in any evaluation. To say that they must have a massive mean-streak like Breno in order to be considered than you’ve unnecessarily shank the talent pool to a point where we’re wasting our time.

          Winston, based on talent and technique alone would be a massive upgrade. Plus, considering that Vollmer just signed for $5mil/yr, it is unlikely that Winston will get more. He might also be willing sign for 1 year and take his chances next year when the FA market isn’t as depressed as it in right now. Considering that Breno’s cap number $4.5 mil, getting a player of Winston’s ability at 5 mil would be major bargain.

          As far as the draft, Lane Johnson, Eric Fisher and DJ Fluker would all be huge upgrade, but none of them will be available when the Seahawks pick. Kyle Long should be, and is an ideal zone blocking tackle. Menelik Watson would also be a consideration at that spot.

          In round 3, Chris Faulk, and Dallas Thomas would both be ready to start at RT this year.

          Later the draft, Jordan Mills, David Quessenberry, and Xavier Nixon are all guys that could beat out Giacomini for the starting RT job during camp, but are also guys who are enough of a “project” that the team would need to keep Giacomini around in case they don’t develop as planned.

          • Trakar

            If the interest is on basing an assessment on a selection of isolated numbers it is rather strange to see a leap so strongly in support of players who have zero NFL numbers or players whose numbers (age, salary, Cable, scheme and attitude) don’t seem to match up to Seahawks play or needs.

            Again, I have no problem with searching for a replacement at RT, but I have no interest in throwing a dedicated team-mate and starter under the bus with no solid substitutions at hand to replace him. There is a big difference between comparing apple to apple measurables/immeasurables and what comes off to some eyes as poorly supported apples to oranges trash-talking.

            If you were talking about a young David Diehl or Chris Diehlman, who only had a few seasons under their belt but looked to be just a couple of steps away from reaching their potential, then I would be excited about making the deal to get them on board. But to start out the conversation the way this post has, without any serious and meaningful presentation of viable and substantial alternatives and merely attacking a player based upon one aspect of what he contributes to the team as a starter (do you think that Tom and Pete are blind/stupid?) I have a really hard time according your words much value.

    • http://Allcougdup.com/ All Coug’d Up

      Dude it’s not an evaluation, it’s a fact and it’s impossible to argue. Numbers don’t lie when every play is evaluated, they become fact. No matter how mean he is, the numbers say he’s not very good.

      Menelik Watson (FSU), Kyle Long (Oregon), Brennan Williams (UNC), Terron Armstead (APB), Jordan Mills (LTU) are five that are draft-worthy for the Seahawks in my opinion for RT. There are a few more but they’ll be off the board by the time Seattle makes its first pick. Watson would be my choice in this group, but Armstead and Mills are small school guys that might be available later and Schneider/Carroll like to do that small school thing.

  • http://twitter.com/Spokanedad Spokanedad

    Now is not the time to get sentimental about an offensive lineman.. His play was costly, particularly the penalties.. He was dominated routinely by top tier DEs.. Embarrassingly so. A lot of his shortcomings were masked by RW’s scrambling ability.. Playing with an edge needs to be matched with NFL caliber talent. Draft a value RT type and wean him off of this line in time to avoid the cap hit..

    • 12thMan_Rising

      When you get a chance to get better, you take it. Loyalty comes 2nd to winning in today’s NFL.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.kelly.3511041 Jim Kelly

    His two worst performances were against the Rams. Chris Long is Breno Giacomini’s kryptonite.

    His best game was against Arizona. Giacomini had a bad game to start the season against them. I don’t know if familiarity was the reason for his success, or if the Cardinals truly did give up.

    I wish we could break this information down even more. His worst games, other than the Rams, were against teams that have Calais Campbell, Clay Matthews, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith, Jared Allen, and Cliff Avril (Side note: Terrorize others as you did us, Cliff. Whoopee!). I’d like to see whom he let hurry Russell Wilson, as well as whoever sacked Wilson. I’d also like to see if the qb pressures were when he was alone versus had a back or tight end helping him.
    As I said before, I like him. But if he can improve, or an upgrade can be found, I’ll be happy. It took a long time, but I finally look at the Seahawks as a team, and not individuals. If Pete Carroll and John Schneider replace a player with one that gets us a championship, I’ll be happy. I love Wilson, but I’d even replace him in a heartbeat if I knew his replacement would bring us a Lombardi.

  • Tail Feathers

    Breno is terrible. DangeRuss will get killed if he is not replaced. We were lucky to get away with it for one year. Let’s not press our luck. The first four rounds should net 1 DT, 1 OT and 1 TE. I would expect them to double dip at OL in the later rounds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ty.morse Ty Morse

    i think everyone is forgetting that breno is a backup line man that has been put in because of the tumor james carpenter. that guy was the 2010 #1 pick and hasent even played or come close to practicing an entire season yet. i really wish they would show carpenter the door because even when he has been on the field he is hot garbage