Ranking the 2013 Offensive Lines: Q2
It all starts up front.
Or so the saying goes. Sure, it’s a little more complicated than that but essentially it’s pretty hard to run the ball when you’re line is getting smashed at the point of attack, and there isn’t a quarterback out there who fares better when he is pressured.
So this is where we pay respect to those guys with our updated Offensive Line rankings after Week 11 — along with their First Quarter rank.
32. Arizona Cardinals: -61.0 (First Quarter Rank — 27)
Stud: The team has got the usual solid play out of Lyle Sendlein but the best of the bunch remains Daryn Colledge (+6.9). He’s picked up just three negative grades all year and can be happy allowing just 14 quarterback disruptions.
Dud: There’s a competition brewing with the right side of the line just falling short to Bradley Sowell (-19.7). He’s moved into the starting lineup since the trade of Levi Brown, and while his grade is horrible he has rebounded somewhat in his last three outings (-2.5).
Summary: Remains a work in progress. Losing Jonathan Cooper did hurt but the move for Eric Winston just hasn’t worked out, with them actually getting worse at the spot following the play of Bobby Massie down the stretch.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars: -55.3 (30)
Stud: The best of a generally bad bunch? Well, that’s Austin Pasztor (+0.5) who has proved a quiet revelation since being moved into the starting lineup at right tackle. A useful player to have on the roster.
Dud: Not many have come out with credit, but none looked as bad as Will Rackley (-21.4). Many a play would break down (particularly in the run game) with Rackley being the reason front and center. Time to end that experiment.
Summary: Of the many problems the Jaguars have their offensive line is right up there. The unit has failed to open up running lanes and not one of the eight players used have got a positive grade in that regard. Consistent if nothing else.
30. Seattle Seahawks: -51.5 (31)
Stud: It’s hard to find a stud with the team having to deal with injuries left, right, and center, but backup right tackle Michael Bowie (+5.9) held his end up well, even if he has been replaced this week.
Dud: Safe to say the team will be working on a plan going forward that doesn’t involve using Paul McQuistan (-25.1) at left tackle.
Summary: This is something of a false ranking. The team has got back both it’s starting tackles and will be better for it, while the hope is switching McQuistan back to guard and getting the line that played last year on the field will kick Max Unger out of his funk.
29. New York Giants: -50.9 (29)
Stud: Do we have to pick one? A premier line in it’s time, now it’s lacking a bright spot. At least rookie right tackle Justin Pugh (-3.7) hasn’t looked too out of place.
Dud: David Diehl (-22.6) has been kicked to right guard and the results have been predictable. Not very good at all.
Summary: You can’t completely blame the Giants for the state of their line. But it’s impressive how they’ve really failed to address the gradual decline. We are encouraged that the man pretending to be Will Beatty at the start of the year has been replaced by the real thing recently.
28. Oakland Raiders: -41.7 (17)
Stud: Center Stefen Wisniewski (+8.6) has taken his time becoming the center many thought he would, but now it seems to be happening.
Dud: Lucas Nix (-36.4) is in prime position to earn the lowest grade we’ve ever given a guard.
Summary: It’s been better than expected. Tony Pashos and Matt McCants have come in and done admirably well, but the rebuilding of this line is going to take more than just one offseason.
27. New York Jets: -33.4 (25)
Stud: It’s hard to pick on a line that hasn’t coped with teams keying in on it’s run game. At least Austin Howard (+5.7) has handled his business in pass protection.
Dud: The left guard spot has proved to be a problem all year. Brian Winters (-13.1) has struggled with four negative grades on the bounce.
Summary: This line used to be the best in the business. It’s not now. They do a good job of giving their quarterback time, but they don’t do a good job of opening up the kind of running lanes their backs need on a consistent basis.
26. Atlanta Falcons: -32.2 (28)
Stud: It remains Justin Blalock (+9.8), but the concerning thing is that it owes more to his pass protection than consistent movement he’s getting in the run game. The kind of player you want on your line, but not someone you expect to be the standout player on it.
Dud: To be fair to Lamar Holmes (-22.0) there’s every possibility that Sam Baker (-14.4 grade on 190 snaps) would have been this guy if not for injury. But that doesn’t excuse how bad Holmes has looked on both sides, even if his recent performances have been better.
Summary: The Falcons understand what they’ve got. It’s why you’ve seen their attack go screen heavy and put an emphasis on getting rid of the ball quickly to protect their quarterback. It’s an extremely limited unit that doesn’t look like opening up holes or allowing plays to develop and there doesn’t appear a quick fix.
25. Baltimore Ravens: -29.6 (32)
Stud: He’s been with the team for only 365 snaps, but Eugene Monroe (+11.0) has shown he adds something to the outfit that Bryant McKinnie didn’t. He has been beaten for one too many sacks (four) but he’s proved a real asset so far.
Dud: It’s been hard for A.Q. Shipley (-13.5) switching from center to guard to replace the injured Kelechi Osemele. His first three games went badly but the team will be happy with his improved display against the Bears.
Summary: They’re lower than I would have imagined them being come the end of the season. The new rushing attack is starting to click and an ability to pick up yards off zone plays and power runs will keep many teams off guard.
Click below to continue the countdown…
24. Buffalo Bills: –26.0 (26)
Stud: At this point it’s fair to say that the selection of Cordy Glenn (+12.5) has proved something of a success for this team. He’s a steady hand in pass protection even if his play in the run game is somewhat more uneven.
Dud: Gone but not forgotten. That -30.1 grade of Colin Brown really holds this team back. If he’d played more than 400 snaps he’d likely own the worst grade we’ve ever given a guard.
Summary: Generally speaking, the team gives it’s quarterback enough time but is heavily reliant on it’s running backs making something out of nothing. They have been better since Doug Legursky entered the lineup which is something you don’t often write.
23. Kansas City Chiefs: -22.3 (23)
Stud: Left tackle Branden Albert (+11.9) has done his chances of landing a lucrative contract at the end of the year no harm.
Dud: No point denying it. This has been a tough rookie year for Eric Fisher (-17.9) who has spent most of the first 11 weeks of the season taking his lumps and hoping to get better as a result.
Summary: The right tackle spot has been problematic and it remains something of a mystery just why Geoff Schwartz can’t crack the lineup (we’d take him at left guard over the disappointing Jeff Allen). When good, this unit is okay, but when bad they’re very bad.
22. Indianapolis Colts: -19.0 (22)
Stud: The team gets good play from their tackles, particularly free agent signing Gosder Cherilus (+11.3) who has been exactly what they hoped he would be.
Dud: Another season, another year of Mike McGlynn (-23.4) being asked to do more than he is capable of. The team wants to run a power game but it’s hard to see if long term he’s part of that plan.
Summary: It’s taken a step forward but the interior is really struggling to open many holes and you’d want your franchise left tackle to give up a little less pressure. You wonder how much difference a healthy Donald Thomas would have made.
21. Chicago Bears: -16.1 (18)
Stud: It’s probably not the guard they were expecting, but Jets castoff Matt Slauson (+7.0) has held his own. It’s not been spectacular, but that in itself represents an upgrade.
Dud: Rookies often struggle and the case of Jordan Mills (-25.4) is no different. He’s been caught a little flat footed in pass protection and that forms the bulk of his negative grade.
Summary: While 21st may not sound great it doesn’t represent a big leap forward for a retooling line. Week on week Jermon Bushrod is looking more comfortable, even if I still have reservations over how much they paid him. There are the kind of flashes from Kyle Long that make you think he could be some player once the game slows down for him. An improving outfit.
20. Pittsburgh Steelers: -13.8 (15)
Stud: No surprise that this line got better when David DeCastro (+8.0) got healthy.
Dud: After a decent start, Fernando Velasco (-7.3) has looked overmatched against some of the bigger defensive tackles he’s faced.
Summary: Given the injuries they’ve suffered you might have expected this to be a lot worse. Instead, they’ve taken a step forward from last year, with the guys we presumed to be exposed holding up well.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: -10.3 (9)
Stud: You really can’t go wrong with either tackle, but Demar Dotson (+18.3) has really made that right tackle spot his own.
Dud: It’s been a tough bounce-back year for Davin Joseph (-26.9). He’s never been the best of players we graded, but he’s had a number of shockers this year.
Summary: The team invested big in their offensive line but injuries have really hurt their chances of getting value for money. On the plus side the tackles have been very good, but there’s been little push up front, leaving their backs to be at their best to get yards.
18. San Diego Chargers: -3.3 (12)
Stud: If King Dunlap (+9.5) could stay healthy the team would be all the better for it.
Dud: The switch from right tackle to right guard hasn’t brought out the best in Jeromey Clary (-15.1).
Summary: They made moves to address their problems last year, but once again injuries have hit them hard enough that a lot of reshuffling has gone on. It’s hurt their production and none more so than D.J. Fluker who was enjoying himself on the right side before struggling when forced to play at left tackle.
17. Houston Texans: -3.4 (19)
Stud: Our top ranked center on the year is Chris Myers (+14.7) and so it should come as no surprise that he’s our stud here.
Dud: While Wade Smith has struggled it’s still Derek Newton (-15.9) who is the weakest link. With four sacks, six hits, and 26 hurries allowed (along with eight penalties) he’s always liable to put his quarterback in a tricky situation.
Summary: It’s a line that has never really recovered from the loss of both Eric Winston and Mike Brisiel. Sure they have Myers and Duane Brown, while Brandon Brooks has held his own, but the transition hasn’t been smooth and they just aren’t creating the kind of lanes that their backs have become accustomed to.
Continue to Page 3 for the top half of our rankings…
16. Tennessee Titans: -4.5 (20)
Stud: With just two negatively graded games all year Michael Roos (+16.5) is a tackle you can depend on.
Dud: Center Robert Turner (–13.1) was far from effective before his season ended.
Summary: A good but not great line which is disappointing given the offseason investment in it. Unfortunately, Andy Levitre has only recently hit top form while Chance Warmack has been something of a liability in pass protection. Still, baby steps.
15. Cleveland Browns: -1.4 (24)
Stud: No tackle has a better pass blocking grade than Joe Thomas (+19.9). It doesn’t matter how much time the quarterback wants to throw, Thomas is intent on giving it to him.
Dud: Our site hasn’t forgotten the play of Oniel Cousins (-15.3) and nor should you. His replacement Shawn Lauvao has been better, but not by much (-12.4). It remains a problem area.
Summary: Consider us a little disappointed here. Mitchell Schwartz just hasn’t played as well as his rookie year, while John Greco has suffered a similar fate. So it is then that their two former first-round picks are pushing them as high up as they are, with Alex Mack putting himself in line for a bumper pay day at the end of the year.
14. Miami Dolphins: -0.1 (21)
Stud: The interior is the strength of this line (or at least it was) and none is better than Mike Pouncey (+7.0).
Dud: He’s been better recently but there was a reason why Tyson Clabo (-7.7) was benched after a terrible start to the year.
Summary: They’ve obviously had their off-field problems which leaves them down two starters, but more is made of the sacks allowed than it should be. It’s just one of those quirks that a league high 30.8% of the pressure they’ve allowed has become a sack. A decent, if not fantastic group.
13. Green Bay Packers: +11.6 (7)
Stud: To the surprise of few, Josh Sitton (+14.9) has had no problems switching to left guard. As he has done for an age, he just keeps getting the job done.
Dud: In fairness it could have been a lot worse with David Bakhtiari (-8.3). Thrown into a starting spot at left tackle he’s had some good games and some bad ones, but he’s gotten a lot better since his horror show against the Bengals in Week 3.
Summary: The strength of the line is the interior where Sitton is joined by T.J. Lang to form one of the better guard partnerships in the league. They’re limited at tackle, but they can get past it with a quick-hit offense.
12. St Louis Rams: +14.5 (6)
Stud: After his last two years in Miami were so disappointing, it’s been great to watch Jake Long (+18.9) get back to something near his best.
Dud: Probably time to accept that former first-round pick Chris Williams (-10.5) just doesn’t have it.
Summary: Quite the turnaround. Even with Rodger Saffold missing time hurt the line impressed with Joe Barksdale making it so the team would eventually put Saffold in at right guard to replace the injured Harvey Dahl. Fans demanded better and they got it.
11. Minnesota Vikings: +17.5 (11)
Stud: In the “we didn’t see this coming award” Brandon Fusco (+12.9) has really justified the faith in him and is playing like one of the league’s best right guards.
Dud: Signed to shore up the left tackle spot a few years back, Charlie Johnson flopped there and hasn’t been much better at guard (-7.5).
Summary: A drop off on their play from last year with Matt Kalil suffering from a sophomore slump and neither Phil Loadholt or John Sullivan hitting the heights of last year where All-Pro talk was much deserved. Good but not great.
10. San Francisco 49ers: +19.6 (14)
Stud: While others haven’t managed to maintain their 2012 form, you can’t say that about our top ranked left tackle Joe Staley (+23.6).
Dud: You’d like to see Jonathan Goodwin (-3.0) do a little better in pass protection.
Summary: Whereas last year they were bullying teams, this year they’re trading blows. The outcome is still a 49ers victory, but with their guards not as dominant it’s not quite as emphatic.
9. New England Patriots: +20.9 (5)
Stud: They’ve found the long-term Matt Light replacement in the shape of the excellent Nate Solder (+19.6). A fine pass protector who does damage at the second level.
Dud: In 2012 you could look past the pass protection issues of Ryan Wendell (-6.3) because his run blocking was so good. This year it’s merely average and no such concession can be made.
Summary: Team took a hit when they lost the excellent Sebastian Vollmer for the year and it remains to be seen whether Marcus Cannon can fill in ably for the remainder of the season. Outside of that they’d probably like to see a little more consistency out of the supremely talented Logan Mankins.
Continue on to find out who sits at No.1…
8. New Orleans Saints: +21.2 (13)
Stud: He had some troubles with Ahmad Brooks, but Zach Strief (+17.4) has developed into perhaps the most reliable right tackle in the league (even if that does say something about the play of the men on the right side).
Dud: He’s better with his run blocking, but Charles Brown (-6.2) has a habit of getting beat and then drawing flags afterwards.
Summary: This is a strong line let down a little by how their interior depth (see Tim Lelito) have performed when given time. Not the dominant unit of old up front even if the team did well to replace Carl Nicks with Ben Grubbs. Wouldn’t hurt if Jahri Evans could find his form of yesteryear.
7. Dallas Cowboys: +25.4 (3)
Stud: The play of Doug Free in the past four weeks means the more consistent Tyron Smith (+10.7) is the top lineman for the team. He’s not yet developed into the top-tier tackle the team would have hoped for, but he’s not a million miles away.
Dud: He’s not the worst run blocker in the world but Ronald Leary (-6.8) has given up far too much pressure for a guard.
Summary: It’s had some bad outings but when they’ve been on song they’ve been very good. Capable of generating movement at the line and giving Tony Romo plenty of time. First round pick Travis Frederick is far from perfect but he’s proved a big bonus in Year 1.
6. Detroit Lions: +27.2 (10)
Stud: It’s always nice when a rookie comes in and plays as well as Larry Warford (+13.9) has. He looks like a guy they will get plenty of mileage out of.
Dud: When Corey Hilliard (-1.1) played he was the least convincing of the linemen, but as his grade would suggest this is a solid unit.
Summary: Three starters gone from last year and yet the line is looking better than ever. A large part of that is down to the infusion of rookie talent with Warford and recently LaAdrian Waddle being pleasant surprises. It’s not often flashy, but it’s been highly effective.
5. Carolina Panthers: +33.9 (8)
Stud: Everyone wants to talk about Cam Newton or the defense, but how about Jordan Gross (+22.3)? He’s our second-ranked left tackle on the year and having perhaps his best season to date.
Dud: The plan was probably to phase Chris Scott (-9.4) out of the lineup and replace him with Travelle Wharton, but an injury forced Wharton to the right side. In any case, converted defensive linemen Nate Chandler has stepped in for Scott and had similar problems. It remains the one problem area on a talented line.
Summary: As mentioned, outside of right guard this is a set line. Sure Byron Bell is a marginally below average starter but to have three quality players from left tackle to center in the team gives the franchise a platform to build on. A big part of their rushing success.
4. Washington Redskins: +34.5 (4)
Stud: This is the year where Trent Williams (+21.1) truly established himself as one of the elite left tackles in the league.
Dud: The one player who has constantly got beat on this line is Chris Chester (-10.5), and it really shows up with everyone else playing well.
Summary: They’ve given RG3 plenty of time and have that zone blocking scheme opening big cutback lanes. It speaks for the continuity of the outfit that the end product is often so good. Special credit to Tyler Polumbus who has really stepped it up.
3. Cincinnati Bengals: +34.8 (1)
Stud: It remains the ever excellent Andrew Whitworth who is our fifth-ranked left tackle on the year. He’ll probably feel his pass blocking hasn’t been as good as in previous years (it hasn’t), but he’s made up for that with some punchier run blocking.
Dud: It’s Kyle Cook (-4.6), but a lot of that owes to everyone else being so good. This is a seriously strong outfit with the kind of depth that puts some starting lineups to shame.
Summary: They’ve slipped somewhat these past four weeks with a number of players unable to maintain their early season form. That’s allowed them to be overtaken as much as them falling back.
2. Denver Broncos: +41.3 (2)
Stud: If you’re going to spend big on a free agent it always helps when they play as well as Louis Vasquez (+18.5). Filled in capably at right tackle when asked, but has really imposed himself throughout the year.
Dud: It’s hard finding a dud on a line like this, but the team would like Zane Beadles (-2.3) to give up less pressure than he has. It offsets his above average work in the run game.
Summary: They’re helped by a scheme which sees the quarterback get rid of the ball quickly, but don’t let that take too much away from their efforts. Star left tackle Ryan Clady went down for the year and yet Chris Clark has manned the position in a way that few saw coming, while Manny Ramirez has made the center spot his own. Can you ask for much more?
1. Philadelphia Eagles: +44.6 (16)
Stud: We don’t like to labor the point, but Evan Mathis (+33.7) is really rather good. He’s not the best pass blocker out there, but his work in the run game really is something to behold.
Dud: If someone has to be a dud then it’s Lane Johnson (-4.2), but even that grade owes to his start to the year and not the work he’s been doing recently.
Summary: It’s been overlooked among the success of Nick Foles, but this line really is getting the job done. Sure, they’d be better for Todd Herremans not being something of a liability in pass protection (while our second-ranked run blocking guard) but it’s a minor gripe with a great line.
Continue over the page for a look at the Overall, Pass, Run, and Penalty grades for each team.
Offensive Lines Ranked by Grade
|Team||Pass Blocking||Screen Blocking||Run Blocking||Penalties||Overall|
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