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Old 01-10-2012, 01:22 AM    (permalink
wogitalia
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Default Offensive Lines

So I've scattered it in a few other threads and thought I'd start a conversation on it... has the NFL changed to a point where the interior offensive line has become more important than the exterior guys? I know that traditionally the LT is the 2nd highest paid guy(ie. most important) after the QB but is this even true anymore...

I know this isn't a be all, end all analysis or a fail safe system, but I decided to go through who each playoff team this year is starting where and try and get a basis point...

Note all starters per ESPN, so will include some backups and the like but trying to judge on most recent events.

Bengals

OT - A. Whitworth
OG - N. Livings
OC - K. Cook
OG - N. McGlynn
OT - A. Smith

I haven't seen enough of them this year to judge fairly, but I'd say they are built traditionally, being outside in on that line.

Running team that are probably the worst team in the playoffs and went home in wildcard round.

Lions

OT - J. Backus
OG - R. Sims
OC - D. Raiola
OG - S. Peterman
OT - G. Cherilus

Solid across the board, no real stars on the line but I'd say they are pretty even inside and out, has done a good job in pass pro this year.

Pass heavy team with no running game. Eliminated in wildcard round.

Texans

OT - D. Brown
OG - W. Smith
OC - C. Myers
OG - A. Caldwell
OT - E. Winston

I'd say their tackles are better than their inside guys, but I'd say their outside guys are elite so that's not suggesting they are weak inside. This is one of the best lines in the league.

Run heavy team, more so with QB problems. Won in wildcard round. This line is good at every spot, but great outside.

Saints

OT - J. Bushrod
OG - C. Nicks
OC - B. De La Puente
OG - J. Evans
OT - Z. Strief

Their tackles are the big weakness. Their guards are arguably the two best in the league and flat out elite. Worth noting they are one of the teams that has pushed me towards this thread.

Pass heavy team with an elite, quick passing QB, effective running game. Dominated all season and in wild card round.

Falcons

OT - W. Svitek
OG - J. Blalock
OC - T. McLure
OG - J. Hawley
OT - T. Clabo

Don't really know enough about them other than they are very inconsistent.

Run Balanced team who were eliminated and struggled mightily in wildcard round.

Steelers

OT - M. Starks
OG - T. Essex
OC - D. Legursky
OG - R. Foster
OT - M. Gilbert

Their best OL was out and it really showed as they struggled more so than usual. Hard to judge on injuries, but they are a much better team with Pouncey than without and the inside is the "stronger" part of their OL.

Lost in wildcard round allowing a 3 man rush to get far too much pressure consistently.

Giants

OT - D. Diehl
OG - M. Petrus
OC - D. Baas
OG - C. Snee
OT - K. McKenzie

Solid line that seems to consistently underwhelm(what is with the NFC East and being underwhelming?) I don't think it really has a defining strength and is one of the more balanced lines.

Great win in the wildcard round.

Broncos

OT - R. Clady
OG - Z. Beadles
OC - J. Walton
OG - C. Kuper
OT - O. Franklin

A solid line but has issues at times, again doesn't have any real defining area of strength or weakness.

Dominated the Steelers in wildcard round.

49ers

OT - J. Staley
OG - M. Iupati
OC - J. Goodwin
OG - C. Rachal
OT - A. Davis

Pretty even, Iupati is probably the star but the outside guys are both really solid. This is just a good, well drilled line though.

Patriots

OT - M. Light
OG - D. Thomas
OC - D. Connolly
OG - B. Waters
OT - N. Solder

Mankins would normally be at OG instead of Thomas and the inside is absolutely the strength of this line. They are team 2 that really has me thinking. Like the Saints though, they have an elite, quick releasing QB.

Ravens

OT - B. McKinnie
OG - B. Grubbs
OC - M. Birk
OG - M. Yanda
OT - M. Oher

For mine the strength here is inside. I refuse to believe McKinnie has been good after being awful for the last 5 years for Minny but I haven't watched them close enough to say definitively that he hasn't been good. Oher is a solid RT. Again though, Grubbs and Birk are my top two on their line.

Packers

OT - M. Newhouse
OG - E. Dietrich-Smith
OC - S. Wells
OG - J. Sitton
OT - T. Lang

This is team #1 for my reasoning. They've basically played practice squad guys at OT for large durations of the season but have an elite center and an elite guard(who even in a down year has been good) as the stars. Again, they are great inside out.

I think it's worth noting that the QB plays a major part in how the OL is perceived, no shock that the 3 best offenses have the 3 best QBs but they are all built on a strong inside protection scheme with not a lot to nothing on the outside.

This makes sense, Rodgers likes to roll out of the pocket, which is easy if you have a decent pocket to step into and underneath the outside rushers, Brees does similar and Brady gets rid of the ball and steps into the pocket better than anyone else.

What are others thoughts regarding this, are these teams exceptions(I'd note the Colts always had Saturday leading the way for the last half decade as another to support it) or has the game changed to the point where the interior protection is just more important in having a successful offense?

Interestingly the top OTs are often on some of the weaker teams(Browns, Dolphins and Eagles for example).

Just thought I'd open it up for discussion, see what people think and if anyone else has noticed it at all or has any good reason for it?
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:26 AM    (permalink
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Just look at the Titans' interior line. Probably the worst in the league and it basically cost us a playoff spot.
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:31 AM    (permalink
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Regarding the Broncos I'd say we are definitely built outside in. Clady is a very talented tackle and Franklin has played pretty well for a RT, especially later in the season. Kuper is a really solid inside guy but Walton is pretty underwhelming and there is nothing to write home about Beadles except that he is one of the better pulling guards in the league.
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:31 AM    (permalink
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I think it's become more of just having talent on the line. Where that talent plays isn't as important. In today's game the pass rush can come from anywhere, it isn't always from the QB's blindside. If you have 3 good lineman you'll usually be alright, regardless of where they line up.
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:45 AM    (permalink
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I think it's become more of just having talent on the line. Where that talent plays isn't as important. In today's game the pass rush can come from anywhere, it isn't always from the QB's blindside. If you have 3 good lineman you'll usually be alright, regardless of where they line up.
Probably plays a major role, zone blitzing means that teams can target a weakness and I guess an interior weakness is probably more dangerous if it is being exploited(quickest route to the QB and all that jazz) than an outside weakness.

Bronco's also make for an interesting thing I noticed, the top running teams in the playoffs happen to have the better tackles, whilst the better passing teams were more inside out. Kind of makes sense, big runs are available if you can seal the edge and get a back outside and into space, inside pass rush is more disruptive.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:18 AM    (permalink
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You hit the nail on the head with the Bengals. LG is the biggest need going into the offseason. i would not say they are the worst playoff team i think it is a tossup bewteen Atlanta and Cincy.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:35 AM    (permalink
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49ers

OT - J. Staley
OG - M. Iupati
OC - J. Goodwin
OG - C. Rachal
OT - A. Davis

Pretty even, Iupati is probably the star but the outside guys are both really solid. This is just a good, well drilled line though.
Well Rachal was benched after about a month to kickoff the season and replaced by Adam Snyder. In the first few games, the 49ers offensive line was terrible and allowing way too much pressure. It improved pretty much with Rachal left the lineup. And it's been "okay" since. The unit still isn't that great (Alex led the league in sacks), but it can get better with experience. Anthony Davis has been as inconsistent as it gets. Same with Goodwin.
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Old 01-10-2012, 02:56 AM    (permalink
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You hit the nail on the head with the Bengals. LG is the biggest need going into the offseason. i would not say they are the worst playoff team i think it is a tossup bewteen Atlanta and Cincy.
I actually really like Cincy going forward, I'd have actually said it was between Cincy and Denver myself, but Denver went and won(albeit against a skeleton Pittsburgh team). I really like their defense and its potential and Dalton looks a solid QB and a couple of their weapons can be good, but they are a limited team offensively still. If Dalton can improve at a good rate I think they can be a strong team, it would help if they didn't have to face Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice a year but I guess two byes they get wins for from the Browns help to start offset that :)
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:10 AM    (permalink
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Right now I think the Texans are my favorite unit. Eric Winston is one of the more underrated players in the league and Duane Brown has really come into his own. I don't know if there are any dominant individual players but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Also, in your Baltimore write up you didn't mention Yanda and called Birk and Grubbs the strength of the line. Although those guys are both very solid, Yanda is a guy who I am very comfortable calling an elite player at his position. He is our best lineman for sure and is probably one of the only lineman in the league who could be a Pro-Bowl caliber player at every position on the offensive line.
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:33 AM    (permalink
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There are some corrections to be made with the Packers line as everyone will be back next week.

OT - C. Clifton, M. Newhouse
OG - TJ Lang
OC - S. Wells
OG - J. Sitton
OT - B. Bulaga

Scott Wells is the reason this line has been functioning at a high pace the whole year. His calls on the line has changed the pressures the team has been able to run. The center has always been the most important position on the line, and it always will be. The Hall of Fame QB's all had amazing centers, Starr with Jim Ringo, Terry Bradshaw with Mike Webster, Dan Marino with Dwight Stephenson, Brett Favre with Frank Winters, Young with Pro-Bowler Bart Oates, Manning with Saturday, and Brady with Dan Koppen. The team with the best performing center will win the superbowl, and that always shows every year. Wells outperformed Legursky last year. The Steelers lost because they couldnt control pressure, and that all starts with the calls across the Oline.
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:48 AM    (permalink
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Right now I think the Texans are my favorite unit. Eric Winston is one of the more underrated players in the league and Duane Brown has really come into his own. I don't know if there are any dominant individual players but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Also, in your Baltimore write up you didn't mention Yanda and called Birk and Grubbs the strength of the line. Although those guys are both very solid, Yanda is a guy who I am very comfortable calling an elite player at his position. He is our best lineman for sure and is probably one of the only lineman in the league who could be a Pro-Bowl caliber player at every position on the offensive line.
Houston is my favorite unit as well and has been for a while. It's funny, because this offensive line used to be criticized as one of the worst if not the worst a few years ago. The team has really made strides in this area. Winston, Brown, and Meyers are all very good players. Wish we had their line.
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:58 AM    (permalink
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Houston is my favorite unit as well and has been for a while. It's funny, because this offensive line used to be criticized as one of the worst if not the worst a few years ago. The team has really made strides in this area. Winston, Brown, and Meyers are all very good players. Wish we had their line.
Myers is the reason that line clicked so well on saturday.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:07 AM    (permalink
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I think a big part of the Texans has just been keeping it together, that is always an underrated element, they've also simplified it by really pounding the rock, run blocking is easier and more fun for the vast majority of linemen.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:16 AM    (permalink
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It really isn't that hard to scheme around elite edge rushers if your interior is stout. We create so much space in the middle that our tackles are really only concerned with being beat to the inside, and Brees has a clean pocket to step into.

It's just a better way to spread your resources IMO. We can power both our running and passing game with our elite interior, and even though we broke the bank for Jahri Evans, and probably will for Nicks, but it will still pale in comparison to what some tackles make.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:18 AM    (permalink
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I think a big part of the Texans has just been keeping it together, that is always an underrated element, they've also simplified it by really pounding the rock, run blocking is easier and more fun for the vast majority of linemen.
I definitely agree with you, but blockers have to be told who to block, and where to block them. Certain basic calls involve whether to block left or right, or who to double team. All of those calls are done by the center. The Texans run game is a model for how all teams should block in the modern NFL.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:32 AM    (permalink
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Just look at the Titans' interior line. Probably the worst in the league and it basically cost us a playoff spot.
I'll trade a couple of innocent children for David DeCastro in the draft.
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The end. Cut to black. Audience goes ****ing ape****.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:49 AM    (permalink
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I definitely agree with you, but blockers have to be told who to block, and where to block them. Certain basic calls involve whether to block left or right, or who to double team. All of those calls are done by the center. The Texans run game is a model for how all teams should block in the modern NFL.
Wont find any arguement from me on that :) I think a big reason that the whole Jets offense struggled this year was Mankins missing and being hurt for the majority of the season. Didn't help that Moore had problems as well.

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It really isn't that hard to scheme around elite edge rushers if your interior is stout. We create so much space in the middle that our tackles are really only concerned with being beat to the inside, and Brees has a clean pocket to step into.
That's a really strong point.

I agree on the middle thing. When we had Hutch and Birk in the middle, our line was pretty damn good, even though we had Cook and McKinnie basically letting anyone past that asked nicely(or could run under a 5.4) but after we lost Birk and as Hutch has aged it has just gotten noticeably worse each year, I mean last year with Hutch out it was so bad we managed to get Favre so hurt he couldn't play(I stand by that being the highlight of our season and quite possibly the decade).

I'm not sure I even want Kalil(well not the one in the draft anyway!), I'd rather get a stud CB or move down and try and get a safety and a CB. Really we are stuffed, we have next to nothing at WR, a promising TE, nothing on the OL, potential at QB, a stud at DE, a stud at OLB, a good but slowing rapidly DT and that is about it for the team. Oh and Peterson!
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Old 01-10-2012, 05:00 AM    (permalink
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Wont find any arguement from me on that :) I think a big reason that the whole Jets offense struggled this year was Mankins missing and being hurt for the majority of the season. Didn't help that Moore had problems as well.



That's a really strong point.

I agree on the middle thing. When we had Hutch and Birk in the middle, our line was pretty damn good, even though we had Cook and McKinnie basically letting anyone past that asked nicely(or could run under a 5.4) but after we lost Birk and as Hutch has aged it has just gotten noticeably worse each year, I mean last year with Hutch out it was so bad we managed to get Favre so hurt he couldn't play(I stand by that being the highlight of our season and quite possibly the decade).

I'm not sure I even want Kalil(well not the one in the draft anyway!), I'd rather get a stud CB or move down and try and get a safety and a CB. Really we are stuffed, we have next to nothing at WR, a promising TE, nothing on the OL, potential at QB, a stud at DE, a stud at OLB, a good but slowing rapidly DT and that is about it for the team. Oh and Peterson!
Thank you kind sir. You guys need a center terribly. Sullivan did not develop according to plan. Vikings should trade down for more picks. I would start the rebuilding your team around Ponder, Allen, and Greenway. Everything starts in the front 7, and ends with a tackle normally.

The Jets always struggle because Mangold gets hurt.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:01 AM    (permalink
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Petrus is not the LG when Baas is in at C. Boothe is.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:08 AM    (permalink
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I think oline in general has become overrated. Great qbs make everyone on offense better. Including the line.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:20 AM    (permalink
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steelers interior line is most definitely not the stronger part...aside from pouncey theres no NFL starters on the interior.

starks and gilbert are good enough on the outside and colon has been pretty good when hes not hurt. Justin hartwig has been out of football for 2 years and he still leads the league in sacks given up for a center over the last 4 years. kemoeatu is awful, foster and legs are good backups, essex is a finesse 330 pound player....blehhhhh
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:36 AM    (permalink
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Right now I think the Texans are my favorite unit. Eric Winston is one of the more underrated players in the league and Duane Brown has really come into his own. I don't know if there are any dominant individual players but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Also, in your Baltimore write up you didn't mention Yanda and called Birk and Grubbs the strength of the line. Although those guys are both very solid, Yanda is a guy who I am very comfortable calling an elite player at his position. He is our best lineman for sure and is probably one of the only lineman in the league who could be a Pro-Bowl caliber player at every position on the offensive line.
This. Marshall Yanda is far and away the best player on our offensive line.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:41 AM    (permalink
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The Texans have the best oline in the league. Cinncy has a pretty good line too.

I'd say my top 5 lines are:

1. Houston
2. Cinncy
3. Baltimore
4. San Francisco
5. New Orleans
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:54 AM    (permalink
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Also, in your Baltimore write up you didn't mention Yanda and called Birk and Grubbs the strength of the line. Although those guys are both very solid, Yanda is a guy who I am very comfortable calling an elite player at his position. He is our best lineman for sure and is probably one of the only lineman in the league who could be a Pro-Bowl caliber player at every position on the offensive line.
Third motion for this. Yanda is a straight up beast.

With the exception of LT our line is pretty solid... well then again Oher can be pretty frustrating at times...
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:13 PM    (permalink
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I think the importance of having a solid line across the board is becoming more apparent due to better D's in the league. Used to be the edge rushers were the pressure creators and so you needed good/great protection on the outside. Now with player like Suh, Ngata, and others you're interior can be exploited big-time without solid interior line play.

I love the Texans and know how far we've come. Yet I know that consistency on the line is such a big thing. Our guard Briesel was out and it showed the last few games as the backup got acclimated. I've always found it funny that the Centers haven't gotten the respect they deserve. Dudes have one of the hardest jobs snapping the ball and stopping a massive bull from just trampling all over them to get to the QB. The importance of having versatile, intelligent, physical linemen cannot be overstated. The days where you could wait til the fourth round to draft interior linemen are gone.
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