The offensive line play will always affect what the position guys do. You’ve heard it or seen it before. No time to throw, no hole to run through, no time to run the route and the tight end has to stay in and block. Players change teams all the time now and the offensive line play could affect them negatively or positively.
Every year I look at offensive line rankings and I can take three different rankings and 75% of the teams will be ranked differently all over the place. I took the stats I thought most reflected the work of the offensive lines and compiled my own. From best to worst here is my offensive line rankings 1-32.
1. San Diego: Resigning OG Kris Dielman could be the biggest addition they made in the offseason. OT Marcus McNeill was pressed into the lineup last year as a rookie and was solid. This is the most cohesive, hardworking, smash-mouth, offensive line in the league. The best offensive line, the best running back and the best tight end will make Rivers rank – better than his play.
2. New Orleans: This group was efficient run blocking and excelled in pass blocking because they do not need to hold their blocks long. On top of that they only allowed the 4th fewest sacks.
3. New England: A very cohesive unit that is mobile. Excel in both the run and pass. A line that is greater as a unit rather than the individuals. Brady is quick and decisive with the ball and that helps him avoid sacks.
4. Indianapolis: You can flip Indy with NO all day, they are that comparable. Efficient run blocking that excels in pass blocking that does not need to hold blocks long. They are starting to age some though.
5. Philadelphia: Five starters return after starting all 16 games apiece last year. Full of solid performers. Starting to age a little but they are strong in the depth department.
6. Chicago: A veteran group that returns intact. This unit excels in the run game. They are efficient in the pass game but Grossman breaks down too much against the speed rush and blitz.
7. Denver: Another line that is greater as a unit rather than the individuals. This unit is consistently among the leagues most productive. They would have been ranked higher but last year they slipped some as OT Matt Lepsis was knocked out with a season ending knee injury. Rookie Ryan Harris was steady in his place last year though.
8. Saint Louis: Played solid last year despite missing injured OT Orlando Pace and C Andy McCollum. The right side needs to step up and be more consistent. Despite playing solid they ranked 4th in sacks allowed.
9. Pittsburgh: This line disappointed some last season and they lost OL coach Russ Grimm – which is huge. They’ll have a different look this year but they should still rank high as they always seem to plug guys in on the line and always excel in run blocking.
10. Dallas: Another line that was questionable last season. They were efficient but was Romo’s decline in the end of the season because of Romo or the line? They upgraded in the offseason over what they worked with last year. Could be an improved unit and finish higher, the key may lie with OT Flozell Adams health because he can be dominant.
11. Cincinnati: This unit had alot of injuries last year and it showed. Have some questions going into this year. They lost OG Eric Steinbach and C Rich Braham retired. The replacements OG Andrew Whitworth and C Eric Ghiaciuc, who came on near the end last year, should be efficient though.
12. New York Giants: This group is solid but not that spectacular. They have a big hole to replace since they lost OT Luke Petitgout in the offseason.
13. Jacksonville: Very strong at run blocking and efficient in pass blocking. Added mauler OT Tony Pashos in the offseason. Will be in the top 10 after 2007.
14. Baltimore: This blue collar unit is aging some and lost mauler OT Tony Pashos in the offseason. OT Jonathon Ogden returns for another season. They should be technically sound as always. They allowed the 2nd fewest sacks last year.
15. Kansas City: For the past 4 or 5 years this has been one of the top 3 lines in the league. Losing OT Willie Roaf and OG Will Shields will be damaging. They got some help in the offseason in OT’s Damion McIntosh and Chris Terry but they will not compare. This unit is declining and will most likely rank lower next year
16. Washington: Talent all around and a few who don’t play up to it at times. Injuries are always the biggest concern. Lost OG Derrick Dockery in the offseason.
17. Green Bay: This unit is very young but showed tremendous progress week in week out as the season wore on. Last year was the first year in a zone blocking scheme and they should start to open it up some this year.
18. New York Jets: Another young unit that is up and coming. They had the 7th most rushing attempts but ranked 20th in rush yards per game. Thomas Jones, who runs hard between the tackles should help the output and move them up quite a bit after this season.
19. Seattle: Another once dominant line that’s starting to fall. Losing OG Steve Hutchinson was more than they bargained for. They used 7 or 8 different starting combinations last year and it affected Hasselbeck and Alexander besides their injuries thru the season. The right side will have some battles going on in the preseason.
20. Atlanta: This is going strictly off last year and mostly for there run blocking. The last 3 years they ran a zone blocking scheme and ruled the rushing stats. New head coach Bobby Petrino is going with a different approach – a power-running offense. There will be growing pains. It’s hard to gauge where this unit is as a pass blocking unit because Vick is just horrible at throwing the ball. Last year they averaged 148 pass yards a game, worst in the league. 32nd in completions, 31st in completion percentage and allowed the 7th most sacks.
21. Tennessee: Another young, up and coming line that is very underrated. A very promising group that was strong in pass blocking while Young had no one to throw too and that could open up some holes in the run game. Could easily make a jump after this season.
22. Arizona: Another team that went through alot of starting combinations last year. Near the end of the season they started to gel. That won’t matter though cause Russ Grimm is in town and wants a line like he had in Pittsburgh. The best guy from last year OG Deuce Lutui returns and they drafted OT Levi Brown. A great start but C and LT remain a question.
23. Minnesota: The left side is dominant but the right side is beyond weak. They allowed the 8th most sacks last year and had the 5th worst yard per play average.
24. Detroit: They had the worst ranking as a run blocking unit but ranked much higher as a pass blocking unit. They added some improvements to the line this offseason and could suprise or they could just be the same ole Lions.
25. Carolina: A line and team riddled with injuries throughout the season last year. An undersized line that usually overacheives. They are implementing a zone – blocking scheme this year that should take advantage of the line and running back position. This is a group that will perform better and likely place much higher after this season if they can stay health.
26. San Francisco: This unit improved alot last year and crawled out of the cellar of the offensive line rankings and Frank Gore made them look good too. OG Larry Allen had alot to do with this units improvement. First round pick OT Joe Staley should push to start and there is alot of competition going on due to there sudden depth. This unit will only go up the next few years and it could be in leaps and bounds.
27. Tampa Bay: Lots of problems going on here last year, more with the offense as a whole rather than the line. Still they are very very young, they have invested heavily in the line by drafting 4 guys in the last 3 years. Need to gel quickly.
28. Houston: Still searching for answers. One of the shakiest lines in the league.
29. Miami: They could very well have 5 new starters at the start of the season and it would probably be an upgrade.
30. Buffalo: Added some improvements in the offseason and the left side could be very good but the right side will leave something to be desired.
31. Cleveland: This unit should finally improve. They definitely upgraded in the offseason. They drafted OT Joe Thomas and signed future stud OG Eric Steinbach. C Hank Fraley played all 16 last year. The big question is the right side but they will get OT Ryan Tucker back after he missed last year.
32. Oakland: They were horrible last year. They gave up the most sacks and scored the least touchdowns last year. They should only improve from the cellar of last year.