Offensive Line Rankings

| October 24, 2012

One of the things we feel we do better than anyone, is assess offensive line play. We’re watching these maulers on the line getting to the second level, pancaking defensive linemen, and every so often getting beat. And we do it on every single play of every single game.

So as much as anyone can be qualified to rank offensive lines, we feel we’re up to the challenge. Thus, after seven weeks of NFL action, it’s time to unveil some offensive line rankings.

In a rather crude way we’re adding together the cumulative grades for every offensive linemen on a team to give a score for every team. With teams having played different numbers of games this number has been divided by how many games they’ve played to give an average score per game in each area.

Let’s start with the worst shall we?

(PB = Pass Block rank, RB = Run & Screen Block rank, PEN = Penalty rank)

32. Arizona Cardinals

PB = 32nd, RB = 32nd, PEN = 18th

Does this really surprise anyone? When you have two tackles giving up as much pressure as D’Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie, you’re bound to be in trouble. It hasn’t helped that they decided to invest in Adam Snyder at right guard. That move was always going to end up as subtraction by addition.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

PB = 31st, RB = 24th, PEN = 17th

What’s gone wrong with the Jags’ line? Well, outside of the excellent Eugene Monroe every player has graded out negatively. Having to use Guy Whimper on 173 snaps has hurt, but the performance of too many guys has been less than stellar.

30. Oakland Raiders

PB = 30th, RB = 28th, PEN = 14th

So how’s that zone blocking scheme coming along? The running game has been out of sync and it’s showing up when Darren McFadden gets the ball. The pass protection hasn’t been great either, with the forced use of Willie Smith proving to be a marked downgrade from Khalif Barnes.

29. St Louis Rams

PB = 29th, RB = 21st, PEN = 29th

While 29th may not seem great, when you consider the injuries this unit as overcome, it’s something of a victory. Guys who have been turnstile tackles elsewhere, Wayne Hunter and Barry Richardson, have held up reasonably well, while the worst-ranked performer (Quinn Ojinnaka) has just been let go.

28. Seattle Seahawks

PB = 27th, RB = 15th, PEN = 32nd

What’s killed the Seahawks rank? Well, the tackles giving up 17 penalties between them didn’t help. Still, at least they had the sense to get J.R. Sweezy out of the starting lineup. His early season work is still being felt in the team’s run blocking grade.

27th. Indianapolis Colts

PB = 17th, RB = 30th, PEN =23rd

Led by Winston Justice, the Colts haven’t actually done a terrible job in pass protection. Run blocking? That’s an entirely different matter, with only Anthony Castonzo and backup center A.Q. Shipley earning positive grades in this area.

26. Carolina Panthers

PB = 19th, RB = 29th, PEN = 13th

While the play-calling deserves its share of blame, the run blocking hasn’t exactly been great this year. That was especially true in the middle of the line, with Ryan Kalil not playing up to his potential before his injury and Geoff Hangartner really struggling.

25. Dallas Cowboys

PB = 24th, RB = 13th, PEN = 31st

The Cowboys’ offensive tackles were able to match the 17 penalties of the Seahawks, while also giving up 40 combined sacks, hits and hurries between them. They have been getting better as the weeks have gone on though.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers

PB = 11th, RB = 31st, PEN = 27th

When you consider how they’ve been riddled with injuries this isn’t too bad. Now, if Mike Adams can continue to play the way he did against the Bengals, they’ll be moving up swiftly.

23. Miami Dolphins

PB = 14th, RB = 26th, PEN = 24th

Not quite what we’ve come to expect from the Dolphins. You can’t blame Mike Pouncey for that, he is putting forward a legitimate case for an All-Pro nod with his play.

22. Chicago Bears

PB = 25th, RB = 7th, PEN = 30th

No player sums this line up like Gabe Carimi. Excellent going forward, he’s something of a liability when he’s on his heels. All things considered, this is a big improvement from a line that was once a laughing stock.

21. San Diego Chargers

PB = 26th, RB = 20th, PEN = 3rd

There’s been too little of Jared Gaither on the field. This entire unit looks a different proposition when he’s fit and healthy. Without him, life seems a lot harder for Philip Rivers.

20. Philadelphia Eagles

PB = 28th, RB = 4th, PEN = 25th

There’s no doubt about it, the loss of Jason Peters has hit this team hard. While Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis continue to play well, the poor form of Danny Watkins, coupled with injuries, has seen a major drop off from 2011.

19. Tennessee Titans

PB = 18th, RB = 16th, PEN = 28th

They’ve come good recently with their tackles particularly impressive. Indeed, Michael Roos seems some way back to his best and he hasn’t even been 100%. The interior isn’t going to scare anyone, with the guards particularly disappointing.

18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

PB = 13th, RB = 22nd, PEN = 22nd

As expected the left side of the line is doing a fine job, but they’ve missed Davin Joseph. Not because Joseph is anywhere near the player some make him out to be, but because the guys behind him have been so bad.

17. Green Bay Packers

PB = 7th, RB = 27th, PEN = 16th

A somewhat shaky start to the year for Green Bay who are definitely worse off for replacing Scott Wells with Jeff Saturday. On the plus side, Marshall Newhouse has taken a step forward and Bryan Bulaga is looking like his 2011 self.

Turn the page for 16-1

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  • Anders

    Im surprised to see the Eagles so high.

  • KC_Chiefs

    Dunno how the Chiefs got so high, that was a surprise.

    • JM

      Really underscores how much Cassell (and Quinn) has sucked. Line has given him a ton of time.

      • http://profiles.google.com/hickman.jared Jared Hickman

        Is this a joke??

    • http://twitter.com/C_Joseph_J CJ

      Not really all that surprising, they have very solid players across the line. Their pass protection is honestly fantastic – Quinn and Cassell are just that bad.

      • http://profiles.google.com/hickman.jared Jared Hickman

        Oh my god… you guys aren’t joking around!?! This is getting ridiculous. That offensive line is in no way decent. They’ve allowed over 30 runs for negative yards, CONSTANT pressure on the quarterback, including two injuries to different QBs. Both QBs have had zero time to throw the ball all season. That line doesn’t work well as a unit. They blow their blocking assignments regularly. Watch any game this season and you will see pass rushers coming through, untouched.

        QB play this season has been bad. But the offensive line has been no better. Many of Charles long runs this year came on plays where the line was completely blown up, but he was able to cut across the entire field.

        • izach

          um… your wrong, cheifs OL maybe hasnt been great, but both cassel and quinn are garbage, maybe its the OC, but the OL has done a good job overall

          • Jesse

            That is not completely true, Quinn is not good. I didn’t like Cassel and I hated that we got rid of Tyler Thigpen only to pay Cassel $63 million for 6 years. Particularly when we knew the retirement of Shields was going to impact protection further. Cassel still is a probowler which correct me if I’m wrong none of the chiefs current line are. He is a pocket passer Tom Brady or Peyton Manning wouldn’t be any better here and I doubt you would say they are garbage. The line is the most important part of the game and that is why on good teams the line makes up the first consideration under the cap. The line is the problem this article is so incorrect it isn’t even funny. If you want to blame someone look at Pioli

        • Jesse

          Jared, I couldn’t agree more.

        • PP head

          Yep, Cassell played like a Pro Bowl QB with that New England O-Line giving him 25 seconds to throw. The KC unit is in no way comparable to what he had in New England. Honestly, this is the only ranking I disagree with.

  • SC

    I believe the Average Fan tends to underestimate a Team’s Offensive Line. I say this as a Vikings Fan who heard the rest of the Fan Base complain in the midst of a 3-13 season about the Line’s play (This was somewhat amusing as the line was above average). I think part of the problem is the average viewer has a hard time evaluating line play for a few reasons

    1. A QB is sacked or a RB is blown up in the backfield. This might not be either the Ball-Handler or the Line’s fault as it could be the Alingment was screwed up and they couldn’t block. On the reverse side- it’s rare that we tend to notice positive line play.

    2. Great Playmakers force defenses to adjust. Having a Calvin Johnson probably means less players near the line of scrimmage, having a Tom Brady makes a team less hesistant to do an all-out blitz. This seems to be the reason why a team like Kansas City might appear to look a lot better in game flim-breakdown then to the casual eye.

    • Bubs Solo

      Absolutely right. To add to that some teams rarely give their tackles help in pass rush situations from the TE or RB position(AZ) others teams will have the Tackle and a TE or RB and in the case of Clabo vs Von Miller the guard helping out.

    • http://twitter.com/ArifHasanDN Arif Hasan

      As an avid fan of PFF’s grades, I have found reason to disagree with them on occasion. The pass blocking efficiency and grades for the Vikings from last year were one such instance. I can’t say that I watch the games with the same attention to detail as they do, but I do watch each play several times in order to write my articles.

      The most recent example of our disagreements had to do with their grading of the Vikings’ run blocking of the Redskins game. C’est La Vie.

      • SC

        Was the Viking Line Above-Average in 2011? Yes- It was a medicore Pass Blocking Line that was one of the best Run Blocking Units in Football. The Pass Blocking looked a lot worse then it was due to Christian Ponder being responsible for 11 sacks according to PFF’s numbers.

        I would guess in an individual game some differences would lie in flim breakdown since you’re trying to determine the defenses stated objective on a given play. I maybe wonder if one’s perception could be slightly off watching on a play unfold with a clear rooting interest in one team. In other words- it’s easier to assign a breakdown in blocking rather then just a good call by an opposing defensive coordinator. I’m not trying to be critical of your work (Which I know and appreciate). I’m guess trying to figure our the reason for differences in evaluating performance.

  • Quipper

    Skins have the #1 ranked rushing offense and they’re rated as the 8th run blocking unit. PFF’s NFC Pro-Bowl voting didn’t include RG3 or Alfred Morris.

    What gives?

    • Khaled Elsayed

      RG3 our 5th ranked QB, would be in AFC squad. Same for Morris being graded positively but having others there. Polumbus grade hurts run block scores, and also worth giving scheme some props for out foxing opposition.

    • Bubs Solo

      Do the Redskins have a Star or a Eagle Head or a big NY on their helmets??? These guy’s grading has a bias towards those teams.

      • Richard

        Dude, your team is below 0.500. Stop pretending like your roster is full of All-Pros.

        • Nick

          Record is irrelevant to his point. If they’re consistently exceptional in passing, the best in running, and high-scoring (which they are through7 games), it has to be because of someone. They (correctly) assess that it isn’t because of the offensive line, but if it isn’t them, the QB, or the HB, then what’s going on? Scheme can only do so much, and their receiving threats are Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, and a part-time Santana Moss, so it isn’t like they have unbelievable WRs attracting all the attention away.

      • Khaled Elsayed

        I must have missed the memo when looking at our grades that ranked Dallas 25th & Philadelphia 20th …

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.cutaia David Cutaia

    WOW its been a long time coming for the 49ers. I remember the days of Kwame Harris and Adam Snyder yikes!

  • http://twitter.com/john_drama John

    Im sick of hearing about RG3. He just dinks and dunks. He doesnt throw downfield. Hes got 13 atts vs 37 for Luck. No way he should be considered for the Pro Bowl

    • Nick

      And when he does go downfield he does it better, and more judiciously than Luck has so far. He leads the league in both completion percentage AND yards per attempt(which you don’t get by dinking and dunking to crappy receivers)– which are both pretty good indicators of quarterback performance, in addition to being the most productive running QB in the league. Only two people in the history of the NFL (Drew Brees and Ken Anderson) have finished a season with a completion percentage higher than RG3 has through the first half of his rookie campaign.

      Given that the pro bowl is a one-year award and “give it time before you get too high on him, it’s his first year still” isn’t relevant, there’s no strong argument for RG3 NOT being considered for the pro bowl right now.

  • Nick

    Texans are vastly too low. They have have gotten slightly worse since last season, but they’re still EASILY a top 5 line, and I’d gladly take them over the 49ers’.

    • Khaled Elsayed

      Big statement. I don’t think they’d be rotating at both RG and RT if they felt it was working perfectly.

      • Nick

        No one’s line works perfectly. If having a weak side disqualified you, the Vikings wouldn’t be ranked well.

  • Carlton

    Making a team from scratch, would you rather have Alex Boone or Mike Iupati?

    • Khaled Elsayed

      Different players. Iupati has done it for longer – if the 49ers can have both, why can’t I?

    • izach

      for me its Iupati, guy is a beast in the run game. and one of my favorites right now

  • FMG

    while i agree Jeff Saturday hasn’t been great you can’t say he’s a poor replacement for a guy who isn’t able to play (Scott Wells) I said it last year but the move should ahve been to steal the Houston center Chris Myers

  • Matt

    Cassel really has no excuse to have played so poiorly…KCs OL is very talented and young largely, but no one can block for 10 secs for him. When he plays he gets sacked so many times making the line look bad, but he just walks into them. Kyle Orton proved they were solid, he hardly got sackd and Quinn, although not the answer didn’t get sacked at all last week. I wouldn’t change anything about our OLmand we have the very talented Hudson to come back nxt year also. We have done a good job building this line and Albert is very underrated.

  • JJ

    Marshall Yanda was considered unathletic and not particularly strong when he was drafted, he even blew out his knee one year.

  • Paul

    Do you take into account how many pass rushers are sent? Lions pass rushing grade is high, but don’t they routinely face four pass rushers as defenses focus on taking away the pass?

  • Be Mo

    KC at #2 and DET at #5…??? Just goes to show how important the guy under center is. Its not as if KC has seen dominating defenses. Stafford is clearly rattled, his mechanics are a mess. He seems hurried all the time and defenses aren’t even blitzing as much as they did last year in order to cover better down field, its working so far. Is it just me or is Calvins vertical leap not what it was last year. Maybe just a by product of Staffords timing. HMMM
    Can you imagine what RGIII and Morris could do if they could move up the rankings here a few notch’s.

  • Mike O’

    I think having the Ravens terrible offensive line ranked #11 shows that this stat is meaningless, if the pro bowl performance of one one player (i.e. Marshall Yanda) can skew the terrible performance of the other four lineman.

    • Neil Hornsby

      Matt Birk has played well and while all of the other have been worse than average none have been “terrible”. Oher & Osemele are both at the very top of the bottom third of tackles. Although I accept many people expected more, there are a large number of teams that would be happy with on overall performance like this.

  • Jesse

    I have been a chiefs fan since I can remember, and in my near 30 years I have never bad mouthed the team once. Each week I say that the next week is going to be better. Although, since I saw the last piece of the NFL’s most dominating offensive line dissolve with Brian Waters leaving for the Patriots, I have been preying for the Chiefs to trade some draft picks to get a pro-bowl lineman. This is a very young team that has developed a losing mentality after dropping some close games to stiff competition in 2007. The team had a 4-3 start and was broken in the next 3 games particularly after the 10-13 loss to the Colts. The Chiefs fell to 4-12 to finish the year. That stigma has followed them for the last 5 years, despite a 10-6 2010 season. (The Cleveland Browns had the same 4-3 start in 2007 under Romeo Crennel, who finished the season 10-6. He was released after a losing season the following year. Todd Haley was replaced at the end of last year following his 10-6 season by none other than Romeo Crennel. Strange to say the least.)

    You’re likely asking why I wrote all of this. Speaking as a former D1 football player I know what it feels like in a locker room with a broken will. The only way to solve that is to simplify the play scheme, run the ball, control the clock and win games on muscle. When you can’t open the running lanes you draw in the secondary with play action and convert on simple passes. As the game goes on running the ball gets easier and you start to control the game, assuming you are not more than a touchdown or so behind. That is a tough concept for me to admit having been a receiver, because the statement devalues the passing game which everyone loves so much today. Anyhow the only way to control the clock like that is with a great O-line. When I watch the chiefs play I get a very different feel from the protection that Cassel gets. Nothing I have seen screams second in the league. The Chiefs have possibly the best running back to ever play the game, in Jamaal Charles, and they are still somehow made one dimensional. How is it possible that a team could have such a bad record and have a great O-line? The answer is that the Chiefs don’t have a great line.

    The long and short of it is the Chiefs O-line is so small that complex blocking schemes are required. When you pull and release blockers in strange ways you get smaller percentages of desirable execution. It’s certainly harder to make blocks when pulling or scraping to a linebacker than it is in a head up situation. Furthermore once this team is forced to convert a long play due to a penalty, a dropped ball or missed block, the line cant hold long enough to stretch the field. The result is the playbook shrinks to a quarter of its original size leaving short passing plays and draws. This makes the chiefs become one dimensional yet again. For the Chiefs to succeed the skill positions need to play near perfect games. No one can drop a ball or have a bad throw. That is not plausible and is ultimately why you will see them start a great drive and then have catastrophic failure, ending in punts, kicks or turnovers.

    I’m going to say with some conviction. The Kansas City Chiefs O-line does have potential, particularly Branden Albert. Perhaps next week everything will click and they could get to where the line needs to be. If that is the case there isn’t a team in the NFL that could beat them. Just look how they started the first half against the undefeated Atlanta Falcons in there opener. For now unfortunately I would put a 3 in front of that 2nd ranking when talking about the chiefs O-line. I guess stats like fumbles caused by pulling guards, bad snaps, pocket collapse and getting blown up on the run block don’t factor into the ranking of NFL O-lines.

    Like I said, I have never spoke poorly of my team and this in some sense sets precedence for what I hope never to do again. Please remove the Chiefs from the second ranking. They don’t deserve to be there. If you won’t do that please make the person who decided the ranking watch the entirety of the Chiefs 2012 season and see if they can in good conscience reply to this entry with an explanation of how the O-line is better than 30 other teams.

  • Mavs2011nbachamp

    25. Dallas Cowboys
    PB = 24th, RB = 13th, PEN = 31stlol and you mention nothing in Cowboys Oline needs … seriously ?

    • Mavs2011nbachamp

      PB = 15,  RB = 26

  • Jimmy Mac

    So let me get this straight… 9′ers were top 10 in terms of QB hits, pressures, and sacks (top 5 in the latter two)… yet they’re the best line overall? This list reeks of ESPN’s QBR rankings which are made up by value to the viewer and follow no formula or standard whatsoever. Absolute crap. Waste your time writing stuff that actually has substance and fact to it PFF.