|Is 'Big Country' a better RT than Jon Runyan was?|
Now that Stewart has three more years as the starter (he only had two when the inaugural All-Time team was selected) he makes a strong case to replace Runyan on the team.
There are quite a few similarities between the two. Each was a non-starter his first year, then became a fixture in his second NFL season. Each has/had a reputation as a mauler. Each was selected as a second-team All-Pro following his third season as a starter.
There are also strong similarities in their run-blocking stats. We'll examine those after the jump.
Football Outsiders' Adjusted Line Yards measures offensive line productivity by team and position. Runyan started all 48 regular season games in his second through fourth seasons so FO's grades for Tennessee in his seasons are entirely his. Stewart started 46 of 48, so he's responsible for ~ 96% of FO's Tennessee RT grades in his first three seasons. Overall, Big Country started 77 of 80 (~ 97%) in his five starting seasons.
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4||Year 5||Average|
|Runyan Adjusted Line Yards||4.27||3.64||4.06||-||-||3.99|
|Stewart Adjusted Line Yards||4.16||3.60||4.04||4.35||4.60||4.15|
|Runyan NFL rank||15||22||12||-||-||16.3|
|Stewart NFL rank||14||28||21||7||6||15.2|
Year 1 in the above table reflects the first season as a starter. Note the similar ALYs when comparing their first three seasons. There are also major differences, as evidenced by the tables above. Stewart improved in his fourth and fifth years as a starter and was better statistically in those seasons than Runyan ever was. Runyan's best years didn't come until his final two seasons in Philadelphia.
There is a lot more I could write about Runyan's seasons in Philadelphia but I have chosen not to, since that would not be relevant to his performance in Tennessee and his contributions as a Titan. For the same reason, I have not posted his (Philadelphia's) FO stats for those seasons, but in case you're curious, they are rather mediocre until 2007-08.
Looking at them in pass protection, neither was excellent but each was good if not better. I've seen both look very good at times but I've also seen both get beat badly on occasion.
How did they regularly fare against the top pass rushers? Runyan didn't face any top flight pass rushers in the division. All of the best pass rushers in the AFC Central from 1997-99 were on the other side of the line, going up against Brad Hopkins (see my Hopkins vs Roos article.)
On the other hand, Stewart faced Robert Mathis eight times in five years, three of which were Pro Bowl seasons for the Colts' DE. Mathis had 48½ sacks in those five seasons but none of them came against Stewart and the Titans.
Stewart also occasionally faced Mario Williams, who lined up at both defensive end positions for Houston, but primarily at RDE against Roos. Williams had 6½ sacks in 7 games against the Titans. Unfortunately, I don't have a breakdown of how many of Super Mario's sacks came against Stewart and how many against Roos, though I suspect most came vs Roos. Off the top of my head, I don't recall any vs Stewart, but I may be mistaken. If anyone has any info on this, your input will be appreciated.
Overall, my eye tells me Stewart has been a much better RT than Runyan was, especially the last three seasons, and the stats suggest that was indeed the case. Big Country gets my vote. Full disclosure: I'm a big Stewart fan and have one of his game-worn jerseys.
What's your opinion? Which of them has looked better to you? Which of them gets your vote for right tackle on Total Titans' All-Time Tennessee team? Please vote in our latest poll and share your thoughts in our comments section.