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« #1 : October 20, 2006, 08:15:59 PM »
NFL's best offensive lines
Rank Team Comment
1. Offensive line coach and former Steeler Russ Grimm does an outstanding job with this team's line every year. This group didn't lose a starter from last season and remains very solid across the board. Pittsburgh drafts linemen every year and builds depth from within as well as any team in the league. Overall, this group has not played as well this season. However, not well for them still makes them better than anyone else in the NFL.
Best player: OG Alan Faneca
2. The Broncos employ a zone-blocking scheme. They like undersized offensive linemen who are light on their feet and can move well laterally. They do not have any real star power on the offensive line, but the fact that they have been together as a group for a while and play well together makes them one of the best units in the NFL.
Best player: C Tom Nalen
3. This has the potential of being the top overall line in the NFL. Starting OC Rich Braham and LT Levi Jones have missed extended time this season and as a result, their pass protection has been a problem. When right, the right side of the line is very physical, while the left is athletic and nimble.
Best player: C Eric Steinbach
4. The Colts use a zone-blocking scheme where the most important thing is for the linemen to stay on their feet. There is no one on the line that would jump out at you as a massive physical specimen. With one of the best O-line coaches in the business (Howard Mudd), the players just don't make many mistakes. They are a better at pass blocking than run blocking.
Best player: OT Tarik Glenn
5. The Eagles like big, tough, physical lineman who have the athletic ability to suit their up-tempo offense. These players must be good pass blockers first as the Eagles are a pass-heavy team. But they also have to be mean enough and big enough to open up holes in the run game. This group is a mix of young and old that has really put the time and effort into becoming one of the best lines in the league.
Best player: OG Shawn Andrews
6. The Redskins like their offensive linemen to have good size and athletic ability to fit their man-blocking scheme. These players must be able to option around and pull to pickup linebackers and defensive backs on the second level because the Redskins are a heavy outside running team. Their lineman have to have the agility to run over obstacles and be good in space. This is a veteran group that is anchored by LT Chris Samuels.
Best player: OT Chris Samuels
7. The Patriots have the best offensive line in the AFC East. They have a bunch of experience and have been together for several years. Rookie tackle Ryan O'Callaghan has done a nice job filling in for starter Nick Kaczur in New England's mixture of zone and man-blocking schemes.
Best player: OT Matt Light
8. The Jaguars, with new O-line coach Andy Heck, employ primarily zone-blocking scheme, but also will man block at times. Their interior (guards and center) has a lot of power and can get push using their explosive thrust. While they might lack stars, they don't really have any weak spots, either. They are a better run-blocking team.
Best player: OT Maurice Williams
9. Returning after missing the better part of the last two seasons with injuries center Matt Birk leads a revamped offensive line that includes free-agent addition Steve Hutchinson at OG and Bryant McKinnie at OT. While the strength of the offense, this unit has struggled at times this year with penalties, stalling drives at critical times.
Best player: OG Steve Hutchinson
10. The biggest surprise in Chicago this season has been the explosive play of the offense and the line has been a big reason for that. The Bears' offensive line has been solid in protection, allowing Rex Grossman to stand in the pocket and throw down the field. Center Olin Kreutz brings intensity and leadership to a veteran group. While solid in the run game, this group sometimes struggles to get to the second level to block linebackers to create big runs.
Best player: C Olin Kreutz
11. Despite the loss of OG Steve Hutchinson, this is a good group. They're just not as dominant as last year. They are providing good protection for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and opening good run lanes despite the absence of RB Shaun Alexander. Best player: OT Walter Jones
12. This is one of the more underrated units in the NFL. General manager A.J. Smith has done an excellent job of extending contracts for the young players (OC Nick Hardwick and ROT Shane Olivea) to lock them up long-term. Rookie Marcus McNeill also looks like a budding star at LOT. This is a young group that possess a nice combination of size, strength and athletic ability. They will be in the top five in the near future.
Best player: C Nick Hardwick
13. The Panthers rely on their power running game to setup the play-action pass. The Panthers' offensive line takes a lot of pride in their smash-mouth rushing attack. Even with the injuries and reshuffling on the line, this unit has been more consistent over the last few weeks. However the loss of LT Travelle Wharton earlier in the season was a blow to this unit.
Best player: OG Mike Wahle
14. The Falcons are the No. 1-ranked rushing unit in the NFL. The Falcons do a great job creating run lanes for RB Warrick Dunn in their zone-blocking schemes. Even though they are effective running the ball, they do have limitations on the interior of their offensive line in pass protection, which a defense can attack and exploit.
Best player: OT Wayne Gandy
15. The Giants' offensive line is a veteran group that has played together for a number of years. The Giants, like a lot of teams, like their lineman to be big and athletic. That's especially true at the guard positions because they are called upon to pull on outside running plays and block on the second level in space.
Best player: OG Chris Snee
16. Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Doug Marrone has done an outstanding job of molding this unit of both veterans and younger players into one of the team's most consistent units. This no-name unit has done a great job of keeping QB Drew Brees upright in the pocket, while creating space for running backs Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.
Best player: OT Jammal Brown
17. A big question mark at the start of the season, this unit is still a work in progress as far as pass protection goes because they've had trouble picking up the different pressure packages teams have used on them. They do a good job of coming off the ball and re-establishing the line of scrimmage in the run game on the defensive side of the ball. Still, the Cowboys need to be more consistent in pass protection.
Best player: OT Flozell Adams
18. The Titans, under Mike Munchak, are primarily a man-blocking team that, traditionally, likes to grind out the yards with a mauling type line that gets push and creates running lanes. The Titans have changed, somewhat, this year to using the zone techniques that better fit their smaller, more athletic linemen. The core of their strength is in their second- and third-year players, which bodes well for the future if they can lock these guys up long term. Best player: OT Michael Roos
19. Once one of the best in the NFL, this unit has hit hard times this year with the sudden retirement of LOT Willie Roaf and the suspension of ROT John Welbourn. The interior is still good enough, but ROG Will Shields is at the end of his career. Waters is now the best of the group and a solid player to build around. They have some young OTs in Jordan Black, Kevin Sampson and Will Svitek that are seeing a lot more time this season. If they can develop, the Chiefs will once again be among the top 10 offensive lines in the NFL. Best player: OG Brian Waters
20. This makeshift offensive line has been playing well together despite losing center Andy McCollum, the veteran leader of this line, in Week 1. A young offensive line at C and RT, the surrounding veterans have helped elevate the run game, but they need to do a better job of protecting the quarterback against the three man rush. Best player: OT Orlando Pace
21. The Jets' offensive line has two rookie starters playing as good as anyone up front. The mixture of zone and man schemes employed by New York is similar to the Patriots OL philosophy. Ranked 21st in the league, the line is more effective as pass protectors than being physical run blockers. Rookies Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson give this line a lot of hope for its future effectiveness.
Best player: OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson
22. The run game will be vastly improved once the arguably most consistent offensive lineman (Larry Allen) in the NFL returns from a knee injury. This unit has been marred by injury and has not had a chance to gel. There is good depth and ability at the center and guard spots, but the two tackles are not holding the corner as well as they should.
Best player: OG Larry Allen
23. This is an aging, heavy-footed group that lacks depth. Ogden at left tackle is the only player of the group who is an above average starter for his position. The right side of the line in particular lacks quickness and mobility. The Ravens have three young guys -- Chris Chester, Adam Terry and Jason Brown, who is the only one starting -- who must progress for the unit to improve.
Best player: OT Jonathan Ogden
24. The Buccaneers' offensive line has struggled with consistency this season and they continue to hold this team back. There is hope for the future with rookies Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood starting on the right side, but the Buccaneers still have issues on the left side with LT Anthony Davis and the inconsistency at LG with Dan Buenning and Sean Mahan.
Best player: C John Wade
25. The Browns' offensive line has been a mess since Cleveland rejoined the league. The new regime spent big bucks on LT Kevin Shaffer and C LeCharles Bentley to build it towards respectability. But Bentley was lost in his first practice in Cleveland and Shaffer has not lived up to expectations. The interior of the line has not played well this year, which has really hurt their power running game.
Best player: OT Ryan Tucker
26. The Packers have installed a completely new zone-run game scheme and the offensive line is beginning to show signs of consistency. Green Bay's line has three rookies rotating at the two guard positions and a relatively inexperienced center, but a solid anchor in left tackle Chad Clifton. While the learning curve is steep, the offensive line is beginning to gel.
Best player: OT Chad Clifton
27. This unit has been decimated by injury all season with center Dominic Raiola and LT Jeff Backus the only constants in the ever-changing lineup. Protection breakdowns, in most part due to a complete lack of continuity, have forced Jon Kitna to hurry throws that have resulted in several critical turnovers. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz was smart to stay committed to the run game in Week 6. Look for this group to continue running the ball or it will continue to struggle.
Best player: OT Jeff Backus
28. Ranked in the bottom five in the league (28th), the Buffalo OL has regressed over the past two weeks. The Bills had some success protecting the passer in their man-protection scheme through Week 4 but have given up eight sacks in the past two weekends. The OL is not physically imposing and must be effective with technique and athleticism.
Best player: OT Jason Peters
29. The Miami offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. The Dolphins had given up 22 sacks prior to Week 6, but improved vs. the Jets with their primarily zone-blocking scheme. Moving left tackle L.J. Shelton to guard and starting Damion McIntosh at left tackle gives them their best combination up front. This line is not very good, but it has shown signs of being better since Joey Harrington became the starting QB.
Best player: OT Vernon Carey
30. The Cardinals' offensive line does not have an identity or attitude. Lack of viable veteran depth has hindered the progress of this unit and made the team limited in shuffling players into more productive positions. Left tackle Leonard Davis would be a much better player if he was at his natural guard spot.
Best player: OG Reggie Wells
31. The Texans use pretty much the same blocking schemes as the Denver Broncos, where head coach Gary Kubiak came from. The Texans are trying to find or develop athletic linemen. This scheme requires the players to have time together and familiarity with one another, which, at this point, the Texans are lacking.
Best player: OG Chester Pitts
32. This is hands down the worst unit in the NFL this season. The Raiders have two solid players in LOG Barry Sims and C Jake Grove. LOT Robert Gallery has been somewhat of a bust and the entire right side needs to be rebuilt. Although it's not a great unit by any means, it's important to note that the coaching staff in Oakland does a terrible job of playing to their players' strengths.
Best player: OG Barry Sims