If you attended a New Orleans Saints game or watched one on television last season, you probably remember hearing this more than a few times from a member of the officiating crew – “No. 64 has reported as an eligible receiver.’’
No. 64 is Zach Strief, a backup guard and tackle. The Saints used mostly Strief when they went to six-man lines last season and they did it more frequently than all but two NFL teams. The Saints used the six-man front on 105 plays, according to Football Outsiders. That’s 10 percent of all their plays.
Only the Giants (115) and Raiders (124) used six offensive linemen more than the Saints. You might just assume most of those plays were runs because that’s generally when teams use six offensive linemen. But that wasn’t really the case with the Saints. Of the plays on which they used six offensive linemen, 44 percent of them were pass plays. That’s a higher percentage than any team in the league that used the six-man front more than four times.
The Atlanta Falcons were No. 4 in the league with 78 plays where they used six-man fronts. But they only passed on 21 percent of those plays.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked No. 8 in the league with 23 plays with six offensive linemen. They passed on 22 percent of those plays.
The Carolina Panthers only used six offensive linemen on six plays and passed on two of those.