View Full Version : FOX Sports Rank NFL O-lines...

07-26-2006, 10:36 AM
May be a re-post.

1. Denver Broncos

A punter (!) suspended for Ephedra use. A receiver who won't attend minicamps. The continuation of the Cleveland-to-Denver D-Line Expressway. The unending game of musical chairs at running back. If not for its offensive line, the Denver Broncos might not know any manner of roster stability. Twelve-year veteran center Tom Nalen signed a three-year extension in the off-season — his absence would have been a major blow to the team. Nalen is among the best pass-blockers at his position. Joining Nalen among the ranks of the re-signed was LT Matt Lepsis, an elite lineman himself. RT George Foster, a three-year veteran, is a massive earthmover at 6'5" and 338 pounds. He has started every game at right tackle since the beginning of the 2004 season, though he's best known for the dive block that ended the season of Cincinnati DT Tony Williams in October of 2004.

The history of Denver's questionable blocking tactics goes back to the genesis of the franchise's time with ex-line coach Alex Gibbs, but the results have also been based on legitimate technique, and they speak for themselves. Though Gibbs moved on to Atlanta before the 2004 season, the line has been just as good under his replacement Rick Dennison. Denver's line will seemingly always find a place in the upper echelon. We ranked them ahead of the Bengals and Colts because we believe they're the most balanced unit from run- to pass-blocking.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

The only line besides Denver's to rank in the top 10 in all four of Football Outsiders' O-line stats — Adjusted Line Yards, Power Success, Run Stuffs, and Adjusted Sack Rate. They gave up only 22 sacks, second in the league behind Indy. Why is this line so underrated? Well, can you name two of the five Cincinnati linemen?

Left tackle Levi Jones and right tackle Willie Anderson are the "marquee" guys here, as much as anyone in this group gets any recognition. Jones is good against both the run and the pass, but limiting Pittsburgh's Joey Porter to just half a sack in three matchups last year tells you that his specialty is blitz pickup. He's on the verge of joining that elite group of left tackles. Anderson went to his third straight Pro Bowl after the season, and the honors are deserved — the 11-year veteran is smart, tough and a total competitor who has played in 96 consecutive games. Guards Bobbie Williams (right) and Eric Steinbach (left) anchor the inside — Williams has only missed one snap in the last two seasons, and Steinbach was an AFC Pro Bowl alternate. Steinbach can play center and tackle as well. The starting center, veteran Rich Braham, may soon give way to 2005 fourth-rounder Eric Ghiaciuc.

From the standpoint of sheer athletic balance, this might be the most impressive line in the league right now. Perhaps the vox populi should pick up on what the NFL already knows?

3. Indianapolis Colts

Last year, the Colts' line ranked first in the NFL in both Adjusted Line Yards and Adjusted Sack Rate. Howard Mudd's line was fairly spectacular all season, and the shame is that they'll be remembered most for Peyton Manning's comments after the playoff loss to Pittsburgh and the performances such comments seemed to necessitate, at least in Manning's mind. The quarterback's postgame "We did have some protection problems" soundbite was a hard way for a good line to go out. Especially since Manning won't be winning any awards for his own adjustments in that game. The Steelers got to, and won, the Super Bowl with a dominant postseason defensive stretch. That Indy's line bent in the face of one single juggernaut should not be a completely damning indictment.

The Colts' line is the backbone of the league's most potent offense. (Elsa / Getty Images)

Center Jeff Saturday leads this line, and the first-time Pro Bowler excelled in an offense that requires a great deal from his position — with so many line calls and pre-snap adjustments, Saturday must alternate between professor and wrestler in the blink of an eye. Left tackle Tarik Glenn made the Pro Bowl as well, though he had to wait until Willie Roaf declined his starting invitation. Glenn went as an alternate after being misinformed of his starting spot in December — a computer error had mis-tabulated Glenn's votes.

The primary question for this line in 2006 is how they will adjust to the loss of Edgerrin James. First-round draft pick Joseph Addai from LSU will be asked to replace James, and the Football Outsiders numbers support his candidacy. Indy ranked last in the league in the percentage of rushing yards gained more than 10 past the line of scrimmage, which implies that the line and the blocking scheme had a great deal to do with James' prolific totals. James will find this out for sure in Arizona, when he endeavors to ply his trade behind the worst run-blocking line in the league.

4. Seattle Seahawks

Had the Seahawks managed to hold on to super-guard Steve Hutchinson (lost in the Great Poison Pill Caper of 2006), there's little doubt as to which line would be No. 1 on this list. Seattle had the best left side in football with Hutch and All-World tackle Walter Jones, and they used that dominance to reach the franchise's first Super Bowl. Now that Hutchinson is in Minnesota, Seattle's line is far more difficult to rank. Jones defines his position (there are those who believe that he's the Seahawk who should have won the NFL MVP award), and right tackle Sean Locklear has developed into one of the best young linemen in the league ... but after that, it becomes a bit of a crapshoot.

Two former tackles have been mentioned as Hutch replacements — Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack, whose tricep injury in the 2005 preseason allowed Locklear to ascend, and ex-Patriot Tom Ashworth, who Mike Holmgren is convinced will play at one of the two guard positions. Womack has caused some concern regarding his ability to stay healthy of late (his nickname would imply that he's not exactly a conditioning freak), and Ashworth could be an effective and cerebral option for the interior line if he can make the position change.

Making this replacement drama even more interesting is that the Seahawks have two young players with guard experience who grade out as better athletes than the candidates named above — Locklear alternated between guard and tackle at North Carolina State and second-year center Chris Spencer not only put some time in at guard at Ole Miss, but has lined up at right guard in Seattle's recent minicamps. However, the Seahawks wouldn't move Locklear unless an emergency dictated it and Spencer is the heir apparent to eventually replace Robbie Tobeck in the middle. The team can squeeze one more full starting year out of the veteran should the need arise for Spencer to make the move, and given Tobeck's intelligence and level of comfort with Matt Hasselbeck, that's a distinct possibility. Tobeck made his first Pro Bowl in 2005, but he also amassed more penalties than any other center. Right guard Chris Gray is the man on the bubble — though Holmgren has an affinity for the veteran, Gray got pushed around quite a bit when engaged last season.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

Willie Roaf will take one last shot at getting a ring. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)

The Chiefs are hoping that Kyle Turley can replace retired right tackle John Welbourn. Reports indicate that Turley, who hasn't been a starter since 2003, is doing well in the initial stages of his comeback, though the weight he lost to ease pressure on his back — and has since regained — well, that could be an issue. His future may be more UFC than AFC. Guard Will Shields and tackle Willie Roaf have both agreed to take one last shot at a ring before possibly walking away themselves. Roaf missed time with a hamstring injury in 2005 and came very close to retiring. Center Casey Weigmann, an 11-year veteran, is the heart of the line and a definite overachiever.

This has been one of the better units in recent years, but age, injury, personnel churn and the ascent of other, younger lines has taken them from the top. The drop after the 2006 season could be precipitous ... and if injuries take their course, the downfall could happen sooner.

6. Washington Redskins

Washington's line, which finished fifth in the league in Adjusted Line Yards, is led by tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen. Samuels rode a fundamentally sound season to the Pro Bowl on the left side and RT Jansen recovered nicely from an Achilles injury which kept him out of the entire 2004 season. Line coach Joe Bugel is credited by his players as a major factor in turning the Redskins' tide back to the days of the "Hogs," Washington's impenetrable line of the 1980s. These linemen are not yet at that level, but they've certainly pulled themselves up from the scattershot blocking which typified the Steve Spurrier era. Guards Derrick Dockery and Randy Thomas and center Casey Rabach fill out a unit that should keep Clinton Portis and all his alter egos happy and healthy in 2006.

7. New England Patriots

Coach Bill Belichick and offensive line assistant Dante Scarnecchia had their hands full in 2005, as the Patriots' line was severely affected by two major injuries and a host of minor ones. Left tackle Matt Light suffered a broken fibula in September that ended his season, and center Dan Koppen — who had started 40 straight games — was lost for the remainder of the year after a November shoulder injury. Light and Koppen were New England's two best linemen and both are expected to return in 2006. Rookie Nick Kazcur replaced Light until sidelined by his own shoulder injury, which meant that Tom Ashworth had to slide in from the right side as the team's third starting left tackle.

One bright spot was the development of first-round pick Logan Mankins. The rookie left guard from Fresno State replaced the departed Joe Andruzzi, played well beyond his years and teamed with right guard Stephen Neal to provide the only real season-long stability on the line. With Light and Koppen returning, expect the Pats to far exceed their 2005 Adjusted Line Yards ranking of 26th. And even with all that personnel ambiguity, New England only gave up 28 sacks, sixth in the league.

8. Minnesota Vikings

You may wonder why the Vikings went after Seattle guard Steve Hutchinson with such vigor — why would any team employ the poison-pill contract strategy and put out a seven-year, $49 million offer sheet, with $16 million guaranteed, as bait for a guard? A left tackle, maybe, but Hutchinson's is not generally regarded as a financially elite position. From Minnesota's point of view, there were two reasons — first, Hutchinson is an immense road-grader with a seriously nasty streak who is so strong, he can push a defensive tackle across a line, sideways, against his own momentum. Second, the Vikings' line in 2005 was a real disaster, as the team ranked 31st in Adjusted Line Yards and 29th in sacks allowed.

Center Matt Birk, the Harvard grad who manned the middle for the franchise's two best rushing seasons (2000, 2002), missed the entire 2005 season with hip and sports hernia injuries. The four-time Pro Bowler is expected back this year. LT Bryant McKinnie was the only Minnesota lineman to start every game. With Hutchinson next to him, the 6-8, 343-pound McKinnie might be part of the best left-to-center starting battery this season.

9. Miami Dolphins

If there's one thing you know about Dolphins coach Nick Saban, it's that he'll do his best to address the fundamentals. From his mentor Bill Belichick, Saban learned the value of good assistant coaches, and he put that education to good use when he hired line coach Hudson Houck away from the Chargers in January of 2005. Houck has been rebuilding front fives since 1983 and is best known for his time in Dallas in the 1990s, when he helped build one of the best lines in NFL history,. The players under Houck's leadership in Miami aren't household names, but they did their jobs in 2005 — Miami ranked fifth in sacks allowed with 26.

Center Seth McKinney re-signed with the team in March — the four-year veteran started the first 13 games of the 2005 season before a knee injury in December put him in the injured reserve list. Left guard Jeno James was the most durable and consistent Miami lineman in 2005, while right guard Bennie Anderson has great strength at the point of attack. Left tackle Damion McIntosh is another good player who benefits from the overall scheme — although he'll be competing for his job with former Cleveland left tackle L.J. Shelton. This is a team that will reflect the advantages of good coaching more and more over the next few years.

10. Atlanta Falcons

For the second consecutive season, the Falcons led the NFL in rushing. Atlanta's line ranked seventh in Adjusted Line Yards, and 24th in sacks allowed, Of course, any sack total with a quarterback as mobile as Michael Vick is misleading, as Vick will run himself into sacks trying to make things happen far more often than a field general more predisposed to releasing the ball before something bad occurs.

There will be a new name teaching this line in 2006 — mastermind Alex Gibbs remains in a consultant's role, and former UCLA offensive coordinator Tom Cable will be calling (some of) the shots. The prominent challenge for the Falcons will be replacing left tackle Kevin Shaffer, who signed with Cleveland. Former Saints LT Wayne Gandy, acquired in an April trade, will provide a good short-term option. The 13-year veteran is a savvy pass-protector. The Falcons have spent so much money and energy refurbishing their defense; one tends to wonder when the offensive line will suffer from a relative lack of attention. Gandy is the only notable name, though the dominance of Gibbs' blocking blueprint tends to overwhelm many personnel issues.

11. Pittsburgh Steelers

What kind of offensive line does it take to win a championship? In 2005, the Steelers ranked 12th in Adjusted Line Yards, 15th in 10+ Yards and 23rd in sacks allowed. These numbers fairly represent their strengths as a run-blocking unit, and their relative liabilities in the pass protection game. However, it's important to remember that Football Outsiders' offensive line stats cover the regular season — and not the postseason, when the Steelers went on quite the tear. And as previously mentioned, Pittsburgh's "hot knife through butta" playoff run was dependent on many factors. If your defense is playing at a dominant level, you can get away with sometimes questionable line play, and that is what the Steelers did in 2005.

Alan Faneca remains one of the NFL's best guards. (Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images)

Guard Alan Faneca is the one Steelers lineman whose play is above reproach. Named to five consecutive Pro Bowls, Faneca is strong enough to bull up against the run, and agile enough to handle any pass blocking assignment. Center Jeff Hartings is the line's second-best player. Left Tackle Marvel Smith missed time with ankle injuries and was temporarily replaced by rookie Trai Essex. Pittsburgh's late-season three-game losing streak took place with Smith out of the lineup.

Last year, the right side was the problem, as guard Kendall Simmons and tackle Max Starks struggled through slings and arrows — both players have heard whispers that replacements are in order. Simmons has been battling adult onset diabetes, and Starks is still learning his position after two full years in the league.

12. Carolina Panthers

Yet another offensive line that gets lost in the wake of a brilliant defense. This is an underrated unit that ranked 13th in Adjusted Line Yards last year. While that doesn't sound too impressive, remember that a lower ranking in 10+ Yards generally means that the line is more accountable for a good ground game than the backs. The Panthers ranked 26th in 10+ Yards (yards gained further and further away from the line), so you know where their bread is buttered. John Fox prefers a power running game, and that doesn't happen without an effective line.

RT Jordan Gross is the "name" and the rock here — he hasn't missed a start since being drafted by the Panthers in 2003. Gross has played on both ends, moving back to the right side in 2005. Travelle Wharton, drafted in the third round of the 2004 draft, is an effective player whose development has been encouraging. He became the team's full-time left tackle in 2005 after moving from the left guard position. Left guard Mike Wahle is one of the best pulling guards in the league, just as he was in Green Bay prior to 2005.

13. San Diego Chargers

When discussing the Chargers' line, special attention must be paid to the value of LaDanian Tomlinson, considered by many to be the NFL's best running back. But Football Outsiders' stats tell us that the team ranked 8th in Adjusted Line Yards, and 11th in 10-plus Yards — and this would lead us to the conclusion that LT isn't the whole story. San Diego also ranked 13th in sacks allowed with 30. Line coach John "Jack" Henry has an impressive history with New Orleans and Detroit. This will be his third year at the head of a line featuring center Nick Hardwick, who signed a six-year contract with San Diego in the off-season. Guard Mike Goff is a veteran leader, who has helped youngsters like Hardwick and tackle Shane Olivea fill out a line that could become a top ten unit very soon.

14. Cleveland Browns

After watching the Browns rank 21st in Adjusted Line Yards and give up 46 sacks (26th in the league) in 2005, Romeo Crennel and his front office got busy redefining the line. In doing so, they landed the two best offensive line free agents of the past off-season: ex-Saints center LeCharles Bentley, and former Falcons left tackle Kevin Shaffer. Drafted in 2002, Bentley has earned a Pro Bowl berth at two separate positions — once as a guard and once in the middle. Shaffer replaces L.J. Shelton, who signed with the Miami Dolphins. He's a try-hard guy who plays tougher than his scouting reports and started all sixteen games at left tackle last year for Atlanta.

15. New York Giants

"It was horse(bleep) on my part. I let the team down. Embarrassing. That's what I call that - embarrassing. Embarrassing to my team, to my family, to everybody. Ridiculous. I can't tell you why." — Giants' left tackle Luke Petitgout, after drawing five false start penalties in the team's 24-21 overtime loss to Seattle, November 27, 2005

So ... isn't coach Tom Coughlin supposed to be the NFL's No. 1 "discipline guy"? And if that's the case, how can the Giants' line, under the direction of their good general, display such a wayward sense of order? The G-Men ranked second in the NFL in false starts with 24, with 11 alone in the aforementioned loss to the Seahawks, and were tied for third in the league with 24 holding penalties.

Petitgout is the prime offender, though he's better than average when he's going at the snap (instead of before it). Fellow tackle Kareem McKenzie is serviceable against the run and the pass. Guard Chris Snee flashes perhaps the most potential — the Boston College grad was a Pro Bowl alternate in his second season. It's worth mentioning that the Giants' line ranked 10th in Adjusted Line Yards, but first in 10+ Yards. Although not entirely conclusive, this statistical leaning favors Tiki Barber over the line as the primary reason for the success of their running game. That, and the "tackling prowess" of the Kansas City Chiefs.

16. Philadelphia Eagles

If any team rivaled the Vikings, Jets and Browns in their off-season line focus, it would be the Eagles. No surprise there, since head man Andy Reid is a former trench resident himself. In 2005, Philly passed the ball 621 times out of a total 986 offensive plays - 63 percent of the time. Such imbalance required a stout pass protection to pay off, and the Eagles didn't have it. Ranking 17th in sacks allowed, this line was a factor in the team's first losing season since 1999, though other, more obvious gremlins took center stage. With a more balanced attack, and a year removed from several soap operas, this line could have a decent short-term rebound. It's the extended view that's obviously the priority.

The Eagles identified youth as a prime concern at several key positions. Guard Shawn Andrews, regarded as a potential Pro Bowler, was signed to a contract extension through the 2015 season. While there are no fixed numbers in NFL contracts beyond signing bonuses, this showed the team's commitment to their 2004 first-round pick. The recent death of a close friend has reportedly shown Andrews the light regarding his past conditioning issues. The Eagles also reward deserving veterans, giving 11-year right tackle Jon Runyan a new three-year deal. In the draft, USC tackle Winston Justice and Georgia guard Max Jean-Gilles joined the unit in the second and fourth rounds. The Eagles have indicated that Justice will take the bulk of the snaps at left tackle early in training camp, replacing Tra Thomas, who is struggling with recurrent blood clots in his right leg.

17. New Orleans Saints

New coach, new system, new training camp site …after one of the weirdest and most tragedy-filled seasons any team has ever endured, in which their city was almost wiped off the map, the Saints are looking to bounce back with the draft's biggest prize and one of the most impressive free agents. Up front, who will be creating lanes for Reggie Bush and Drew Brees? Center Jeff Faine, acquired from Cleveland in a draft-day trade, is a smart and quick player whose lack of prototypical size (291 pounds) has him getting overwhelmed by big men at times. 2004 Outland Trophy winner Jamaal Brown will be moving from right to left tackle this season, and the Saints will need Brown to continue his development. He has elite potential.

18. Chicago Bears

If Brian Urlacher weren't a Bear, Chicago center Olin Kreutz might be the team's best player Kreutz is a punishing but intelligent veteran, and he's probably the best center in the game. Left tackle John Tait is another valued veteran with solid technique and a great work ethic. Guards Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza, and right tackle Fred Miller, may have been the question marks here. Chicago finished the 2005 season 15th in Adjusted Line Yards, but fourth in 10+ Yards. Getting the backs away from the line seemed to be the key to success. A passing game in transition such as this one lightens the blame of the 31 sacks the line allowed — considering the quarterbacks on the field, and the receivers they had in their sights, let's just say it's a group issue.

19. Dallas Cowboys

And now, it's time for "Where's the Discipline, Part Two", starring a very atypical Bill Parcells team. For Dallas, the discipline went the way of the depth chart. The ‘Boys led the league with 28 holding penalties, and that number was weighted toward the right side of the line. Rookie RT Rob Petitti drew 11 total penalties and appeared about as overwhelmed as your average rookie. That the team was playing a newbie sixth-round pick on the line in the first place tells you a lot about their depth. The line took a major hit in October, when tackle Flozell Adams was lost for the year with a knee injury. To beef up for the future, Dallas signed former Jets tackle Jason Fabini. The obvious loss to this line was the departure of future Hall of Fame guard Larry Allen, who signed with the 49ers after twelve years and ten Pro Bowl trips in Big D. However, Allen was pretty much on his last legs. Tight ends will play a bigger part in the team's blocking schemes, and this is why Dallas signed former Seahawk Ryan Hannam, one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL.

The Cowboys gave up 52 sacks in 2005. While this is due in part to quarterback Drew Bledsoe (who will never be classified as a "quick release" guy), such numbers are anathema to a franchise used to the all-time great lines of the 1990s. In 2005, Dallas was as far away from those days as Parcells is from outrunning T.O. in a short shuttle.

20. Baltimore Ravens

Finishing 28th in Adjusted Line Yards and 19th in sacks allowed won't get the job done — especially in a system that wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders. Steve McNair may not be done proving how tough he can be.

Just a few years ago, there was little question as to who were the three best left tackles in the league — everyone always mentioned Baltimore's Jonathan Ogden, St, Louis' Orlando Pace and Seattle's Walter Jones in the same breath. In 2005, the Ravens' line had a lot to answer for, but Ogden wasn't the problem. Football Outsiders' Michael David Smith penned a fascinating study of two matchups between Ogden and Indy DE Dwight Freeney. The December 2004 battle recap can be found here, while the September 2005 follow-up is here. Ogden may not be what he used to be, but he's still pretty special. Guard Edwin Mulitalo isn't a bad player, but the options after that tend to dwindle. This line could be in for a freefall if they're not careful. Ogden keeps them from a lower rank.

21. Jacksonville Jaguars
For Jacksonville, the real story lies with the defensive line, and its two mauling DTs, John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. For the offensive line, there's a far less definitive tale to tell. Tackles Khalif Barnes and Stockar McDougle have potential but haven't taken that real step forward yet. Exiled Seahawk Wayne Hunter is trying to overcome his own personal demons. With Matt Jones as the team's only real offensive weapon after Jimmy Smith's retirement and Fred Taylor's seemingly endless injury history, this team will struggle to improve on that side of the ball. What they need is a true difference-maker on the line — the kind of player who can direct a unit where it needs to go. New line coach Andy Heck and offensive assistant Mike Tice will try to pick up the slack.

22. Buffalo Bills/23. Oakland Raiders/24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers/25.Tennessee Titans

Nothing special here — none of these teams made very discernible moves to improve their lines. Buffalo gave up 42 sacks, good for 27th in the league. Oakland's hope for the future of their line, Robert Gallery, has been a disappointment. Al Davis is probably hoping that coach Art Shell, one of the greatest tackles in NFL history, can somehow suit up. Tampa Bay's line has been holding the team back for years — even during their Super Bowl year of 2002, the Bucs' line ranked 24th in Adjusted Line Yards and gave up 42 sacks. Tennessee has an aging Kevin Mawae in the middle and up-and-coming tackle Michael Roos, who will move to the left side.

26. Detroit Lions

Like most things involving the Lions and fundamentals in 2005, the team's line was a big mess. In 2006, new coach Rod Marinelli will try to instill the toughness he brought to the Tampa Bay defensive line. The left side, featuring tackle Jeff Backus and guard Ross Verba, could be better than decent. Verba and right tackle Rex Tucker were added in the off-season. If right guard Damien Woody can beat the battle of the bulge, he will combine with Verba to give Detroit its best guard combo in years.

27. New York Jets

This may go down as one of the best ever O-line drafts for any team if LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold play to their great potential. Ferguson is an incredibly nimble player for his position and may well be the next great left tackle. Mangold is a tough guy and a natural leader. Both players could wind up starting right away — that's probably not so good in the short term, but the Jets' line got old in a big hurry last season. Something needed to be done. Jettisoning Kevin Mawae and moving Adrian Jones from left to right tackle so that the rookies can start learning right away was the way to go. The Jets ranked 24th in Adjusted Line Yards and 30th in Adjusted Sack Rate, so anyone arguing "stay the course" was easily outvoted. This offense will be in Severe Rebuilding Mode under new head coach Eric Mangini, but you might see the line shoot up the charts over the next couple of years.

28. St. Louis Rams

Ladies and gentlemen, it's "Where's the Discipline — Championship Round!" The Rams' line led the league in false starts with 46; no other line was close (the Giants finished second with 35, and 11 of those were in one game). If you liked the Luke Petitgout False Start Festival, you're going to love Alex Barron's 18 flags -- more penalties were called on St. Louis' right tackle than on any other player in the league. LT Orlando Pace is the only standout. Right guard Adam Timmerman played through a lot of injuries in 2005, and proposed starting left guard Richie Incognito has lived up to his name thanks to his own injury issues. If Steven Jackson rushes for 1,500+ yards behind this line as some pundits predict, give the man the MVP award no matter where the Rams finish. That's over 2,000 most anywhere else.

29. Green Bay Packers

Ahhh ... the Bonus Round. "I'll take Really Questionable Personnel Decisions for $1,000, Alex!"

When the Packers allowed both their starting guards to test the free agent waters before the 2005 season, what exactly were they thinking? Leaving the fate of this offense in uncertain hands during what was the first of many Brett Favre Final Seasons was a curious move, at best. Nonetheless, new GM Ted Thompson let Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera walk to Carolina and Dallas respectively, and the results were disastrous.

Ahman Green ran into a brick wall; the back who had gained more rushing yards (6,848) and more total yards from scrimmage (9,036) than any other back from 2000 through 2004 was lost for the season with an October quadriceps injury after a far from torrid start. Favre exhibited a quick release as always, but threw a career-high 29 picks. Sometimes sack totals, such as Green Bay's 27 (third-lowest in the league), are misleading. Take a look at the team's Adjusted Line Yards: 30th in the NFL. Brett, your second farewell tour might be less than you imagined.

30. San Francisco 49ers

Sometimes, it's the "talent" around you. Sometimes, you're the problem. Then, there are those rare situations, where everyone's at fault to a truly abysmal degree. It took a concerted effort, with the contributions of all involved, for the 2005 49ers to rank as the worst offense Football Outsiders has ever tracked using our advanced DVOA ratings (which go from 1997-2005). San Francisco's front five ranked 29th in Adjusted Line Yards, and allowed more sacks than any team but the Texans.

New left guard Larry Allen can be a great mentor and might have just enough left in the tank to provide brief flashes of his former greatness. Left tackle Jonas Jennings has the key responsibility — he missed 13 games last season with a shoulder injury after signing a fat contract. Center Jeremy Newberry will try to return from knee surgery.

31. Houston Texans

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here ... especially if thou art a quarterback. Especially if thou art David Carr, a young man who could teach a certain Mr. Manning a thing or three about not throwing his linemen under a bus. Football Outsiders, as part of our game-charting project, tracks blown blocks that lead directly to sacks. Houston far exceeded any other team, racking up 40 blown blocks ("whiffs", you might call them — St. Louis was second with 29). The truly frightening number: 8.1 percent of Houston's pass plays resulted in a blown block sack. New head coach Gary Kubiak will bring his knowledge of Denver's zone blocking system to Houston, but who are the guys who are supposed to implement it?

Right tackle Zach Weigert, left tackle Seth Wand, guards Chester Pitts and Steve McKinney, and center Mike Flanagan will be directed to drop weight and get quicker in the new schemes that require them to get out of the blocks quickly and get to the second level. Overseeing this progression will be former Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman, Kubiak's right-hand man on the offensive side. One bit of encouraging news is that Houston improved to eighth in Adjusted Line Yards in 2005, but that won't make up for another season of historically woeful pass-blocking.

32. Arizona Cardinals

In Indianapolis, running back Edgerrin James was a treasured part of a virtuoso ensemble. The Colts' offense hit on all cylinders, providing enough blocking acumen to hurtle James and his flashy cohorts to the top of the league. In Arizona, James could find himself a veritable Yo-Yo Ma surrounded by a junior high school band. In 2005, there were no statistics that provided a favorable impression of the Cardinals' run-blocking abilities ... not a single one. Arizona ranked dead last in the NFL in traditional stats: yards per game (71.1), touchdowns (2) and yards per attempt (3.2). They fared no better with Football Outsiders' proprietary numbers: dead stinkin' last in Adjusted Line Yards, Power Success and Run Stuffs. Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington didn't stand a chance. How will James do?

It's hard to say there's reason for encouragement. In 2005, Oliver Ross and Alex Stepanovich struggled through injuries, Elton Brown was a rookie, and left tackle Leonard Davis simply hasn't become the player demanded by his position — he's more of a road-grading guard type. They acquired a free agent guard, Milford Brown, who used to play for the Texans (hmmm ...). They drafted a good guard in Deuce Lutui from USC, who will probably be horrified to find himself in the middle of a line with less ability than he one he was a part of in college. The Cards' line gets the bottom spot here because their pass-blocking was worse than the Texans' run-blocking. Still, that's like praising the 1962 New York Mets because they had a better record than the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.

07-26-2006, 10:39 AM
The Broncos? Give me a ****ing break

Kylo Ren
07-26-2006, 10:40 AM
Blah, blah, blah.......

07-26-2006, 10:42 AM

These rankings are BS, BSPimpDude.

07-26-2006, 10:43 AM
The protection of Jake the Fake....

The ability to plug in any RB and get 1000 yrds/year....

Still maybe it's the D line they are facing.

Steelers put them on ice AFC championship.

let's hope they don't recover from it.

07-26-2006, 10:49 AM
I used to care what these reporters opinions were but I can care less any more. I care more about results.

07-26-2006, 11:00 AM
I found these rankings to be bogus as well. I guess having a ProBowler or former ProBowler at every possible Oline position isnt good enough to be ranked number.

For years we have been hearing the age factor and until it shows that Roaf and Shields cant play anymore, then I will believe them.

07-26-2006, 11:36 AM
No love for Brian Waters? Die Milkface!

07-26-2006, 11:43 AM
This should make for some locker room material. How many probowlers on our line last year? What? Three? Really? Three? What? That's more than all of the other teams?

This douche didn't even mention our best O-lineman and the best guard in football, Brian Waters.

Hopefully Roaf, Shields, Waters, Weigman and Turley see this article and develop a chip upon thou shoulder.

Rain Man
07-26-2006, 12:16 PM
Yeah, this person obviously can't count to three. Three Pro Bowlers means we have the best line in the business.

07-26-2006, 12:31 PM
Yeah, this person obviously can't count to three. Three Pro Bowlers means we have the best line in the business.
Yeah, but we lost Welborn, who wasn't even supposed to start there, but facts be damned...

07-26-2006, 12:38 PM

07-26-2006, 01:02 PM
MeatRoaf cares not what he's ranked.....

Stupid media shit.....

Garcia Bronco
07-26-2006, 01:20 PM
I think that if you have the Denver O-line or the KC o-line as a team that you're well off. But you can hardly balk at the Broncos being number1...I would balk at the number 5 ranking...KC is no worse than 2-3

07-26-2006, 01:23 PM
The Broncos deserve to be up there.. but the Colts? The Colts have a decent O-line but they were getting abused at the end of the season. Then abused after the season as Manning threw them under the bus.

07-26-2006, 01:26 PM
Mr. Von Oelhoffen would like to argue the validity of #2

Thig Lyfe
07-26-2006, 01:27 PM
Broncos probably cheated to get #1.

07-26-2006, 03:41 PM
Yup, the Invesco line is special, so special that only they can find five small white guys out of 250 million to hold, and that's why no other team in the league adopts their "strategy".

I'm just glad we got past the Oscar McFloppey BS PI calls.

07-26-2006, 03:43 PM
The Broncos deserve to be up there.. but the Colts? The Colts have a decent O-line but they were getting abused at the end of the season. Then abused after the season as Manning threw them under the bus.

Agreed. They were starting crap that couldn't even make our squad as a sentimental hometown favorite (Lilja), who by the way, still has Merriman's cleat marks on his chest.

07-26-2006, 04:37 PM
I think that if you have the Denver O-line or the KC o-line as a team that you're well off. But you can hardly balk at the Broncos being number1...I would balk at the number 5 ranking...KC is no worse than 2-3

exactly what he said. . .cant hate on denvers O-line

Rain Man
07-26-2006, 04:41 PM
exactly what he said. . .cant hate on denvers O-line

Pol Pot really reduced pollution in Phnomh Penh, too.