Offensive Line Rankings: Week 10 Update
In discussions with front office officials from around the league we’re agreed on that. It’s why we think our analysis of offensive line play trumps anything else out there. We’re accounting for the skill position players and it’s reflected in our grading that comes from watching every player on every play of every game.
It’s why we’re confident updating our Week 10 Offensive Line rankings.
As ever it’s a rather crude way of doing them. We add up the scores from every lineman that has played this year then divide it by the number of games played so we get an average score. Then we rank away, dividing into three categories (run and screen blocking are combined) before giving an overall score. Previous position is in brackets.
32. Arizona Cardinals (32nd)
PB = 32nd, RB = 32nd and PEN = 21st
Things haven’t got much better for the Cardinals, who by some distance still have the worst offensive line in the league. Nate Potter got some action and it’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of him as D’Anthony Batiste is still our worst-ranked tackle in the league by some distance. How this line remains such a mess is inexcusable.
31. Carolina Panthers (26th)
PB = 25th, RB = 31st and PEN = 16th
A big drop for the Panthers with the performance of Amini Silatolu over the past few weeks being a key factor. His abuse at the hands of the Bears will live long in the memory. With Ryan Kalil down, only Jordan Gross is making life any easier on the players around him.
30. St Louis Rams (29th)
PB = 31st, RB = 19th and PEN = 28th
A one-spot drop for the Rams, who have done a reasonable job contending with a variety of injuries. The good news is Rodger Saffold is back and more than held his own against the 49ers’ fearsome Smith Connection. The bad news? Outside of him and Harvey Dahl, every one of them has graded negatively. The general feeling though is it could be a lot worse.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars (31st)
PB = 29th, RB = 29th and PEN = 15th
A two-spot move for the Jaguars and a lot of it comes down to the play of Cameron Bradfield, who is much improved over his last three games. The partnership he and Uche Nwaneri have promises to push this unit up higher, although the struggles of Mike Brewster are a continual source of disappointment. Sometimes you lose something in the short term when you’re getting a guy ready to be a long-term contributor.
28. Oakland Raiders (30th)
PB = 22nd, RB = 30th and PEN = 25th
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the Raiders implementation of a zone-blocking scheme hasn’t gone exactly to plan. Nor does it take a genius to realize that the more they play Willie Smith, the lower their pass blocking grade as a unit will be. That said they’ll be encouraged with left tackle Jared Veldheer and his work in pass protection.
27. Chicago Bears (22nd)
PB = 27th, RB = 14th and PEN = 32nd
A big drop for the Bears as they continue to be a unit who can get the job done with their run blocking, but struggle mightily in pass protection. So far they’ve only got one player graded in the green, and that welcome surprise is J’Marcus Webb. It stands to reason that Gabe Carimi highlights the strengths and weaknesses of this unit. He is our second-ranked tackle in run blocking and fifth-lowest in pass protection.
26. Indianapolis Colts (27th)
PB = 26th, RB = 22nd and PEN = 18th
It’s a better line than we’ve come to expect from Indianapolis but it’s not without its flaws. Anthony Castonzo is a left tackle who gives up too much pressure and you never know what to expect out of the guys in the interior. Capable of making a play or getting beat, each snap is a roller coaster.
25. Seattle Seahawks (28th)
PB = 21st, RB = 17th and PEN = 31st
Penalties have been a big problem for the Seahawks, though it would be foolish to write this without mentioning how they’ve improved as the season goes on. With Russell Wilson holding onto the ball for so long they have a tougher job than most, but with a more settled lineup, are upward trending.
24. Miami Dolphins (23rd)
PB = 14th, RB = 27th and PEN = 29th
Whatever they might say, we’re used to seeing the Dolphins line run block a lot better than this. Mike Pouncey is emerging as the star of this unit, which is good considering the contract of Jake Long is up at the end of the year. He’s not helping negotiations right now with his play.
23. San Diego Chargers (21st)
PB = 30th, RB = 11th and PEN = 6th
I’m confident saying this line would be a heck of a lot better if Jared Gaither didn’t have those chronic back problems. As it is, undrafted free agent Mike Harris has been forced to play far more than a man at his stage of development should. He’s responsible for their pass protection problems in a big way, and it’s overshadowing a much improved year from Jeromey Clary.
22. Dallas Cowboys (25th)
PB = 23rd, RB = 7th and PEN = 30th
They give up too many penalties and too much pressure, but this is a line that can maul in the run game. That’s their strength and they really do a good job of putting running backs in position to make plays. Still 20 combined penalties between your starting tackles is poor.
Turn the page for the continued countdown to our top ranked offensive line.
21. Philadelphia Eagles (20th)
PB = 28th, RB = 5th and PEN = 27th
It’s hard enough blocking for Michael Vick when he holds onto the ball, let alone doing so while dealing with various injuries. So you think the Eagles might want to run the ball a little bit more. They obviously don’t and they’re reaping the rewards for their strategy right now. I mean who else plays to their strength in the NFL?
20. Atlanta Falcons (12th)
PB = 24th, RB = 21st and PEN = 1st
Part of why Matt Ryan is having an MVP year is that he’s handling pressure and overcoming a line that isn’t making running the ball all that viable. For years now the Falcons have been a team that have beat up on weaker fronts, but if their effort against New Orleans is anything to go by, even those days are behind them. But hey, they rarely give up penalties.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers (24th)
PB = 12th, RB = 25th and PEN = 22nd
A significant jump for the Steelers, who have benefited from Mike Adams coming in at right tackle and some improved play from the interior players. The upshot, as hard as it may be to believe, is Ben Roethlisberger has taken less punishment this year. Just unfortunate that one of the times he did take a hit may result in him missing time.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (18th)
PB = 17th, RB = 15th and PEN = 17th
No move for the Bucs, which is impressive when you think they’ve lost big offseason acquisition Carl Nicks for the year. They’ve stumbled upon success in replacing Jeremy Trueblood with Demar Dotson, but being forced to play Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith is far from ideal.
17. Houston Texans (13th)
PB = 16th, RB = 16th and PEN = 12th
We’ve long been fans of the Texans’ offensive line but the changes that happened in the offseason are clearly hurting the team. Derek Newton has proved a huge dropoff on Eric Winston while neither Antoine Caldwell or Ben Jones has convinced at right guard. They make enough plays to get by but they aren’t functioning as well as they have.
16. New York Giants (14th)
PB = 19th, RB = 9th and PEN = 13th
While he wasn’t terrible against Cincinnati, it still baffles that David Diehl was reinserted into the lineup with it playing so well. Their play has dropped off since that decision and it’s impacting their quarterback. Still a good line, highlighted by the development of Will Beatty.
15. Washington Redskins (15th)
PB = 9th, RB = 18thand PEN = 14th
There’s no denying who the star of this show is. Trent Williams is living up to his draft status and has arrived as a top-tier left tackle. But don’t sleep on the improvements both Will Montgomery and Chris Chester have made. A line that is coming together nicely.
14. New York Jets (16th)
PB = 13th, RB = 20th and PEN = 3rd
I write this every time but you Jets fans have been spoiled, taking above-average line play, and treating it as if you’ve got the Cardinals’ line suiting up for you. It’s another in a long line of subtle (and not so subtle) excuses for why your skill players aren’t getting the job done.
13. Baltimore Ravens (11th)
PB = 20th, RB = 4th and PEN = 20th
What I like about the Ravens is they recognize they have a problem and make a move to fix it. Ramon Harewood was giving up too much pressure so the big backside of Bobbie Williams comes into the lineup and it’s pretty much problem solved. Marshal Yanda remains the star of the lineup.
12. Green Bay Packers (17th)
PB = 6th, RB = 28th and PEN = 9th
Their running woes aren’t all on their running backs as the ranking would suggest. Still they’ve made a big jump and a lot of it was down to some much improved play from Bryan Bulaga. Only now he’s on injured reserve, so the question is how will they respond.
11. Buffalo Bills (9th)
PB = 4th, RB = 24th and PEN = 26th
The line is helped somewhat by Ryan Fitzpatrick and a scheme that sees him getting rid of the ball quickly, though they’ve done well to overcome a number of injuries with no massive dropoff. The run blocking is further proof of how excellent their backs are. They turn broken plays into big ones, and they need to. This line doesn’t get much punch.
Turn the page for the continued countdown to our top ranked offensive line.
10. Tennessee Titans (19th)
PB = 10th, RB = 6th and PEN = 23rd
What a difference a few games can make. It’s no surprise that Chris Johnson has run for more yards with the way his line has been blocking. They got on the same page and boy does it show. A special mention in this regard for Fernando Velasco, who has really come on. The tackles remain stalwarts in protection.
9. Cleveland Browns (10th)
PB = 5th, RB = 13th and PEN = 19th
I’m as guilty as anyone for taking the excellence of Joe Thomas in pass protection for granted. The struggles of Jake Long this year really put his continued brilliance into perspective. If there is a criticism of this line, it’s that it doesn’t always do the best job in the run game.
8. New England Patriots (7th)
PB = 18th, RB = 3rd and PEN = 2nd
The brilliance of Tom Brady has hidden some of the pass protection problems, with the bulk of them coming up the middle as both tackles have more than held their own. In the run games it’s a different matter as they look like they have had some real fun with their running backs benefiting greatly.
7. Denver Broncos (6th)
PB = 1st, RB = 23rd and PEN = 24th
Only Brady has got rid of the ball quicker than Peyton Manning, and look where his team is ranked in pass protection. Still we’re not arguing this unit benefits from the presence of their new quarterback. The run blocking is a little worrying with their line not among the best at generating some push up front.
6. New Orleans Saints (4th)
PB = 8th, RB = 8th and PEN = 4th
After a slow start to the year the Saints have found their feet running the ball, and Drew Brees gets more than enough time in the pocket. Between mounting losses and Jermon Bushrod playing so poorly at the start of the year it was easy to rag on them, but they’re a fine unit.
5. Cincinnati Bengals (8th)
PB = 2nd, RB = 26th and PEN = 7th
There’s no doubting that Andy Dalton struggles under pressure. So it’s massive for the Bengals, vital even, that the line keeps protecting the way it has. It would be nice if the run game could find its on switch. But while they’re better off without Jeff Faine, it remains to be seen how Trevor Robinson handles life as a starting center in the NFL.
4. Kansas City Chiefs (2nd)
PB = 7th, RB = 12th and PEN = 10th
This line would likely be a lot better if they weren’t forced into playing Jeff Allen before he was ready. But you can’t blame the woes of the Chiefs on this unit, with the tackles superb and Ryan Lilja making a real good effort of switching to center. A line can sometimes only get you as far as your skill players will let them.
3. Minnesota Vikings (3rd)
PB = 11th, RB = 2nd and PEN = 5th
This line is only getting better, and if they’d replace Brandon Fusco with Geoff Schwartz? Well who knows how much higher they’d be. John Sullivan is the premier performer on the line but he won’t have that title for much longer if Matt Kalil continues his development. I don’t necessarily agree with taking a tackle that high, but if you’re going to it doesn’t hurt that he hits the ground running like Kalil.
2. Detroit Lions (5th)
PB = 3rd, RB = 10th and PEN = 8th
They don’t give up much pressure, they do give their running backs room to work, and they’re not often penalized. I know some Lions fans don’t love their line, but they’re getting the job done. Matthew Stafford has plenty of time to throw, while their image isn’t helped by their running backs inability to turn holes into big plays.
1. San Francisco 49ers (1st)
PB = 15th, RB = 1st and PEN = 11th
It should probably concern 49ers fans that their protection is struggling at times, with the Rams having a lot of joy against them. But their work in the run game remains a notch and then some above the competition. The gap is closing though.
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