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Yahoo Sports & FootballOutsiders.com Rank O-Lines


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Offensive line play is much the same. Unless you understand how a team plays and the impact other players can have on a line, it’s hard to figure out exactly how to grade a group of five. That’s particularly true in the current state of the NFL where great offensive linemen are few, depth on a roster is rare and even decent offensive linemen get spread around the league in a hurry because of free agency.

“Everybody is looking for help,” said Saints coach Sean Payton, whose line is currently the best and perhaps deepest in the league. Because depth is so important, the Saints have resisted trading tackle Jammal Brown(notes) even though the former first-round NFL draft pick is not currently listed as a starter and is expected to leave via free agency at the end of next season.

New Orleans survived a season-ending injury to Brown last season because backup Jermon Bushrod(notes) played effectively. Still, despite Bushrod’s play and Brown’s return, the Saints still felt compelled to draft tackle Charles Brown(notes) in the second round in April. Bottom line, you can’t have enough linemen.

Even if you have a quarterback like Drew Brees(notes).

“You hear that a lot, ‘The only reason those guys are good is because of Drew Brees,’ ” Saints right tackle Jon Stinchcomb(notes) said. “Fine, whatever. Let them think what they want.”

Said veteran Dallas offensive line coach Hudson Houck: “It’s always been true; it all works together. If the running back, the quarterback or the wide receivers don’t do the right things, the offensive line is going to look bad.”

Subsequently, teams spend more resources trying to make sure they get the line right more than any other unit. From Philadelphia’s numerous moves to Miami picking Jake Long(notes) over Matt Ryan(notes) in the 2008 draft, putting together a good line is a huge priority.

With that, here’s a look at the lines from 1 to 32 with a great deal of help from the folks at FootballOutsiders.com:

1. New Orleans Saints: There were only two teams that ranked in the top 10 of both run and pass-blocking efficiency last year according to Football Outsiders. It should be no surprise that those teams rank in the top two spots. Then again, it’s a delicate situation. The Saints were clearly the best unit in the league last year, led by guard Jahri Evans(notes), who many people believe has surpassed Minnesota’s Steve Hutchinson(notes) as the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL. But the real key is that this group works very well together and is consistent at creating space for Drew Brees to step up or keeping defensive linemen from getting in his face quickly (Brees is susceptible to batted passes because he’s only 6-feet tall). The running game is still something of a mirage, but this group makes it work.

2. New England Patriots: Critics will immediately say the Patriots are over-ranked at this spot. There’s no debating that the group’s high ranking is partially a reflection of the rest of the league being downright mediocre. The Pats have problems right now at left tackle, where Matt Light(notes) is close to the end. If they don’t re-sign guard Logan Mankins(notes), the best of the group but who is so unhappy that he has demanded a trade, this unit is going into serious freefall. That said, few groups in the NFL work together as well as the Patriots. Obviously quarterback Tom Brady(notes), the fourth-most hit passer in the league, helps a lot. But it’s still a good unit.

3. Baltimore Ravens: At a time when pass protection is so critical, the Ravens were below average last season with an adjusted ranking of 19 overall. That said, between having a young quarterback (Joe Flacco(notes) was in his second season), a couple of big changes on the line (guard Jason Brown(notes) left and rookie right tackle Michael Oher(notes) came in) and a lack of great weapons at the receiver spot (Anquan Boldin(notes) and Donte Stallworth were brought in this offseason), there is reason to believe improvement will be made. Oher is switching to left tackle, where he may quickly surpass Denver’s Ryan Clady(notes) and Miami’s Jake Long as the best at that spot.

4. Atlanta Falcons: Falcons linemen like to joke about their lack of talent. Really, it’s a rallying cry for them to work together. While it’s true that this group doesn’t have overwhelming talent, it works together in much the same way that New England’s unit thrives. If left tackle Sam Baker(notes) and third-round guard Mike Johnson(notes) progress, the Falcons will solidify this spot.

5. Miami Dolphins: This is the best run-blocking unit in the league, hands down, showing the emphasis head coach (and former offensive line coach) Tony Sparano puts on line play. This group is the embodiment of what Bill Parcells loves in a line: a bunch of big, intimidating maulers. Some people might question having so many big guys in a place where the weather takes its toll, but the Dolphins are making it work, starting with the outstanding play of left tackle Jake Long. The interior line is still problematic, but if Jake Grove(notes) can stay healthy, that should solidify the center spot. If Richie Incognito(notes) can keep his head straight, this unit could take a step forward.

The Rest

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Profootball focus tweeted yesterday about how terrible this ranking is. They said that both their LT's (Bushrod and Brown) are terrible. I think they may have had a write up about how bad this ranking is. I also do not think we have the 4th best OL. I could see it being top 10, but not top 4.

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Profootball focus tweeted yesterday about how terrible this ranking is. They said that both their LT's (Bushrod and Brown) are terrible. I think they may have had a write up about how bad this ranking is. I also do not think we have the 4th best OL. I could see it being top 10, but not top 4.

that's funny bout profootball focus talking bout something being bogus

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If these are the rankings against average to poor defenses then it looks right.

If it's a ranking against all defenses there's no way we are that high.

Our Oline has been abused against most good defenses. In the run and pass game. In 2008 and 2009.

They really need to improve.

No way we should be ranked that high.Slightly above avg OL imo. Probably was one reason

we drafted a couple of OLmen.

OK, I'm confused. All the "going deep into the play-offs" and Super Bowl talk on this board, but you guys think you have a mediocre OL. Got news for you, you can win a SB with average passing OR average running...but not an average OL.

Edited by SirPsycho
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Profootball focus tweeted yesterday about how terrible this ranking is. They said that both their LT's (Bushrod and Brown) are terrible. I think they may have had a write up about how bad this ranking is. I also do not think we have the 4th best OL. I could see it being top 10, but not top 4.

Sorry. Saints had the number one offense in 2006, 2008, and 2009. In 2007 it ranked 2nd. Brees threw for over 5k yards in 08 and over 4k in 06, 07, and 09. You don't do that with a "terrible" O-Line. You may hate the Saints like I hate the Falcons but saying we have a terrible O-Line is like me saying Turner sucks or your LBs are horrible.

Edited by SirPsycho
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McClure is the leader of this line....he is the glue that makes it as strong as it is.

I've stated over the years tha McClure was part of the solution, while arguing with those claiming he was the problem, or that he was the worst C in the NFL and all this nonsense.

I am very glad to see this OL be ranked #4 in the NL with McClure being it's leader. He was even nominated by his teammates as Team Caption, a distinctio earned by getting respect of your teammates.

Awesome ranking and while I agree it is debatable that we are #4, we certainly have been very, very good when healthy.

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Ok now we have gone from crying about no respect.... to getting too much respect?

There's something very lacking on these boards and it's called REALITY. I want us to get respect for the things we know we excel at. We all know this is NOT one of them...top 5 offensive line? They're not consistent enough. They are, however, around the #10-15 mark.

Edited by Falcon-Boi 89
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Sorry. Saints had the number one offense in 2006, 2008, and 2009. In 2007 it ranked 2nd. Brees threw for over 5k yards in 08 and over 4k in 06, 07, and 09. You don't do that with a "terrible" O-Line. You may hate the Saints like I hate the Falcons but saying we have a terrible O-Line is like me saying Turner sucks or your LBs are horrible.

Great point. Except I never called your OLine terrible. I called your LT's terrible. And to be totally fair, I said PFF called your tackles terrible.

Saints did much better running the ball last year, and no question that is a top 10 OL, it's not the best.

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Rotoworld agrees:

Jermon Bushrod-T- Saints Jun. 19 - 5:45 pm et

Jermon Bushrod is assured of entering the season as the Saints' starting left tackle following Saturday's trade of Jammal Brown.

The Saints did win a championship with the athletic former fourth-rounder guarding Drew Brees' blindside, though Bushrod was highly inconsistent in pass protection. He tended to fare well against top pass rushers only to get beat by mediocre talents. The Saints have second-rounder Charles Brown and veteran Zach Strief around for insurance. Brees' fantasy value is unfazed.

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OK, I'm confused. All the "going deep into the play-offs" and Super Bowl talk on this board, but you guys think you have a mediocre OL. Got news for you, you can win a SB with average passing OR average running...but not an average OL.

Not only are you confused but your reading comprehension is lacking as well. I said,

read my post again, IMO, we have a slightly above avg OLine and probably shouldn't be

rank as high as # 4 - Capish ^_^

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Not only are you confused but your reading comprehension is lacking as well. I said,

read my post again, IMO, we have a slightly above avg OLine and probably shouldn't be

rank as high as # 4 - Capish ^_^

Capish. You won't be winning squat with a "slightly above avg" o-line.

Edited by SirPsycho
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Great point. Except I never called your OLine terrible. I called your LT's terrible. And to be totally fair, I said PFF called your tackles terrible.

Saints did much better running the ball last year, and no question that is a top 10 OL, it's not the best.

You mentioned Brown - the guy who was on IR last year and Pro-Bowled the year before. Don't think that adds up to terrible. Regardless he is a Skin now. In regards to Bushrod, keep reading the internet and he'll keep working hard to get his 2nd ring.

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