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Old 04-06-2013, 11:02 PM  
Ace Gunner Ace Gunner is offline
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LT: Left behind


Left behind
In today's pass-happy NFL, the image of the left tackle is taking a beating


Since Cleveland drafted Joe Thomas in 2007, its scoring offense has ranked above 24th only once.



IN APRIL 2008, the Dolphins were so eager to make Michigan left tackle Jake Long the No. 1 pick overall and the cornerstone of their franchise that they signed him to a $57.5 million contract four days before the draft. Long more than lived up to that deal, becoming only the fourth tackle in 50 years to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons -- before a triceps injury sent him to injured reserve last December.

Yet almost five years after the '08 draft, the Dolphins let Long -- who at 27 is entering his prime -- hit the open market without even offering him his $15.4 million franchise tag salary. Long ultimately became the 11th free agent offensive tackle to sign this offseason, inking a four-year deal with the Rams that could be worth as much as $36 million. But the contract came after he lingered on the market for a week, with his old team as the only other real suitor.

So why the dramatic drop in urgency and currency for such a productive player? Actually, it's not Long who has lost so much value -- it's his position. The left tackle, once considered an essential building block for every franchise, has seen its importance erode in this era of read-option spread offenses. That's something NFL teams with high draft picks need to consider on April 25, when two left tackles, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, are expected to be top-five picks.

Times have changed dramatically since 2006, when the Ravens' Michael Oher was the inspiration for The Blind Side. That best-selling book and eventual blockbuster movie helped mythologize the left tackle's role in protecting the quarterback's back. But in '06, the ideal QB still stood in the pocket and worked through his progressions before delivering the ball downfield. Today, QB drops are shorter, the ball comes out quicker, the passers are far more elusive and the pressure is coming from all over, not just the right defensive end. As a result, Oher doesn't even protect the blind side anymore. In Super Bowl XLVII, he started at right tackle.

Who would have ever predicted that when the Ravens made Oher their first-round pick in 2009? "If there's a great left tackle available, sure, people are still gonna take him," says Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl and former GM of the Browns. "But I absolutely think you're going to see more and more people rethink the idea of the left tackle as this top-notch, highest-paid, building block kind of player."

Savage's reversal on the position is telling. In 1996 he was the director of player personnel in Baltimore when the Ravens drafted left tackle Jonathan Ogden with the fourth pick overall. In 2007, while running the Browns' draft, Savage selected LT Joe Thomas third overall. It's hard to dispute the impact of either guy; Ogden, in fact, was just elected to the Hall of Fame. But there's no disputing this either: Of the 12 left tackles drafted in the top 10 since 2004 -- at a collective price of more than $500 million -- only three have a postseason victory, and not one has an NFL title to his credit (Ogden won a ring in 2000). And although Thomas and Long have been to 10 Pro Bowls between them, neither has won even a single playoff game.

Consider this also: In the first round of the 2007 draft, Savage bypassed Adrian Peterson, who last year had one of the greatest seasons by a running back in NFL history. To take Long in 2008, Miami passed over QB Matt Ryan, who has led the Falcons to the playoffs four times and took them to last season's NFC championship game. "I do not regret taking Jake Long," former Dolphins executive Bill Parcells told ESPN.com in April 2011. "But you always wonder if you should have taken a quarterback."

For decades, old-school thinkers like Parcells and former Colts president Bill Polian considered quarterback, left tackle and pass rusher to be the "holy trinity" of team building. Now the argument can be made that the correlation between victories and elite left tackles no longer exists. "When coaches talk about position hierarchy, left tackle isn't among the top few anymore," an AFC team exec says. "Now it's QB, pass rusher, cornerback, wide receiver. A guy like Joe Thomas shows that a great left tackle isn't nearly sufficient."

Nor is he necessary. After all, Eli Manning won two Super Bowl MVPs with former fifth-round pick and converted guard David Diehl protecting his backside. Aaron Rodgers sets up behind fifth-round pick Marshall Newhouse. And who can name Tom Brady's left tackle? How about Peyton Manning's? Considering that those two legendary QBs had the quickest releases in the league last season -- 3.03 and 3.04 seconds, compared with the league average of 3.46 -- do the names really matter? Linemen simply don't have to hold their blocks as long as they used to.

Meanwhile, to counter quick-strike passing attacks, defenses like the Giants' and Ravens' have started to take a shorter, more direct path to the quarterback by overloading pressure up the middle, which places more value on guards and centers. That's why Alabama's Chance Warmack could become just the seventh guard taken in the top 10 of the draft since 1988. And because running backs and especially tight ends are too valuable in the passing game to stay in and block -- catches by tight ends are up 16 percent since 2008 -- even the right tackle position is on the rise.

In the end, the importance of protecting the quarterback hasn't diminished; it's just that the responsibility and rewards are now more evenly distributed across all five O-linemen. "It used to be you found a great left tackle and built the rest of it from there," Savage says. "Now, because of defenses, you'd better be solid across the entire line. Instead of the super-elite left tackle, it's about five men who block well in a system. You could write a whole book about how the spread offense has impacted the NFL game."

In that book, the chapter about left tackles could be titled Blindsided.


http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/91...-espn-magazine
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Old 04-07-2013, 08:59 AM   #46
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I think the point is the illustration is that a left tackle by themselves will not make your team go to the playoffs. You need the quarterback then if you have a left tackle that is good he can make a difference.
I don't think anyone in history has ever argued that a LT could by themselves elevate a team to the playoffs. In my opinion a QB without a good LT is like a carpenter without a hammer. His job is much more difficult and the quality will not be great. On the other hand, a good LT is like a hammer without a carpenter.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:02 AM   #47
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I think the point is the illustration is that a left tackle by themselves will not make your team go to the playoffs. You need the quarterback then if you have a left tackle that is good he can make a difference.
did you read this or are you drunk.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:53 AM   #48
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You have to be able to counter whatever a defense brings, and the best defenses always have a guy of amazing athleticism and strength, that demands you need to be able to neutralize that power.

I'm of the opinion and the tackle positions are incredibly important. I think the Chiefs should have kept both Albert and Winston.
IMO, if Don Stephenson stayed in school for his senior season, he would be in the conversation for the first offensive tackle being selected this year. The guy is extremely athletic, has excellent feet and is prototype in terms of size.

Combine numbers for Big Don:

6'6"
312 lbs.
34 1/2" arms

40 yard: 4.94
Vertical: 35.5"
Broad: 114"

Those are absolutely ridiculous speed/burst numbers for a guy of that size.

The guy only needed another year of weight room time to build his strength up to the frame, which he's done with the Chiefs.

Personally, I thought it was a pick of the same level of Jamaal Charles when he came out early and we got him with a third. I said it when we drafted him, that if he (Charles) stayed in school, he would have had a legit shot at the Heisman and it was the steal of the draft. In fact, this (Stephenson) is the guy that Pissholi is going to hang his hat on for future jobs IMO. (Along with Houston.)

Stephenson is going to blow up this year. Book it.
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:54 AM   #49
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Left behind
In today's pass-happy NFL, the image of the left tackle is taking a beating


Since Cleveland drafted Joe Thomas in 2007, its scoring offense has ranked above 24th only once.



IN APRIL 2008, the Dolphins were so eager to make Michigan left tackle Jake Long the No. 1 pick overall and the cornerstone of their franchise that they signed him to a $57.5 million contract four days before the draft. Long more than lived up to that deal, becoming only the fourth tackle in 50 years to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons -- before a triceps injury sent him to injured reserve last December.

Yet almost five years after the '08 draft, the Dolphins let Long -- who at 27 is entering his prime -- hit the open market without even offering him his $15.4 million franchise tag salary. Long ultimately became the 11th free agent offensive tackle to sign this offseason, inking a four-year deal with the Rams that could be worth as much as $36 million. But the contract came after he lingered on the market for a week, with his old team as the only other real suitor.

So why the dramatic drop in urgency and currency for such a productive player? Actually, it's not Long who has lost so much value -- it's his position. The left tackle, once considered an essential building block for every franchise, has seen its importance erode in this era of read-option spread offenses. That's something NFL teams with high draft picks need to consider on April 25, when two left tackles, Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel and Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, are expected to be top-five picks.

Times have changed dramatically since 2006, when the Ravens' Michael Oher was the inspiration for The Blind Side. That best-selling book and eventual blockbuster movie helped mythologize the left tackle's role in protecting the quarterback's back. But in '06, the ideal QB still stood in the pocket and worked through his progressions before delivering the ball downfield. Today, QB drops are shorter, the ball comes out quicker, the passers are far more elusive and the pressure is coming from all over, not just the right defensive end. As a result, Oher doesn't even protect the blind side anymore. In Super Bowl XLVII, he started at right tackle.

Who would have ever predicted that when the Ravens made Oher their first-round pick in 2009? "If there's a great left tackle available, sure, people are still gonna take him," says Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl and former GM of the Browns. "But I absolutely think you're going to see more and more people rethink the idea of the left tackle as this top-notch, highest-paid, building block kind of player."

Savage's reversal on the position is telling. In 1996 he was the director of player personnel in Baltimore when the Ravens drafted left tackle Jonathan Ogden with the fourth pick overall. In 2007, while running the Browns' draft, Savage selected LT Joe Thomas third overall. It's hard to dispute the impact of either guy; Ogden, in fact, was just elected to the Hall of Fame. But there's no disputing this either: Of the 12 left tackles drafted in the top 10 since 2004 -- at a collective price of more than $500 million -- only three have a postseason victory, and not one has an NFL title to his credit (Ogden won a ring in 2000). And although Thomas and Long have been to 10 Pro Bowls between them, neither has won even a single playoff game.

Consider this also: In the first round of the 2007 draft, Savage bypassed Adrian Peterson, who last year had one of the greatest seasons by a running back in NFL history. To take Long in 2008, Miami passed over QB Matt Ryan, who has led the Falcons to the playoffs four times and took them to last season's NFC championship game. "I do not regret taking Jake Long," former Dolphins executive Bill Parcells told ESPN.com in April 2011. "But you always wonder if you should have taken a quarterback."

For decades, old-school thinkers like Parcells and former Colts president Bill Polian considered quarterback, left tackle and pass rusher to be the "holy trinity" of team building. Now the argument can be made that the correlation between victories and elite left tackles no longer exists. "When coaches talk about position hierarchy, left tackle isn't among the top few anymore," an AFC team exec says. "Now it's QB, pass rusher, cornerback, wide receiver. A guy like Joe Thomas shows that a great left tackle isn't nearly sufficient."

Nor is he necessary. After all, Eli Manning won two Super Bowl MVPs with former fifth-round pick and converted guard David Diehl protecting his backside. Aaron Rodgers sets up behind fifth-round pick Marshall Newhouse. And who can name Tom Brady's left tackle? How about Peyton Manning's? Considering that those two legendary QBs had the quickest releases in the league last season -- 3.03 and 3.04 seconds, compared with the league average of 3.46 -- do the names really matter? Linemen simply don't have to hold their blocks as long as they used to.

Meanwhile, to counter quick-strike passing attacks, defenses like the Giants' and Ravens' have started to take a shorter, more direct path to the quarterback by overloading pressure up the middle, which places more value on guards and centers. That's why Alabama's Chance Warmack could become just the seventh guard taken in the top 10 of the draft since 1988. And because running backs and especially tight ends are too valuable in the passing game to stay in and block -- catches by tight ends are up 16 percent since 2008 -- even the right tackle position is on the rise.

In the end, the importance of protecting the quarterback hasn't diminished; it's just that the responsibility and rewards are now more evenly distributed across all five O-linemen. "It used to be you found a great left tackle and built the rest of it from there," Savage says. "Now, because of defenses, you'd better be solid across the entire line. Instead of the super-elite left tackle, it's about five men who block well in a system. You could write a whole book about how the spread offense has impacted the NFL game."

In that book, the chapter about left tackles could be titled Blindsided.


http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/91...-espn-magazine

This article is complete BS. The Ravens were having O-line problems. When McKenzie came on board, Oher volunteered to move to right. Oher spent his rookie year at right tackle. The move made Flacco a better QB. In the same division as Von Miller, I'll take the bookend tackles.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:01 AM   #50
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"When coaches talk about position hierarchy, left tackle isn't among the top few anymore," an AFC team exec says. "Now it's QB, pass rusher, cornerback, wide receiver."

the point in this article is that the "trifecta" is void and the LT isn't even part of the equation anymore.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:12 AM   #51
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In fact, in considering Direckshun's yearning for Winston, I think that Jeff Allen has the potential to be a solid right tackle in the league. He's solid on pass protection and does a nice job of keeping his guy in front of him. Redardless of what Crennel/Pissholi thought, he's not a guard and has played both tackle positions in college at a high level.

He doesn't have Stephenson's length or athleticism, but he's fundamentally sound with good feet, has functional strength and will keep his defender in front of him. That's what you want out of a right tackle in this day and age.

Personally, I think drafting an offensive tackle early is a bit redundant at this point. They'll definitely take one in the draft (as well as an interior guy), but one early after drafting both Stephenson and Allen in the third and second rounds last year would be somewhat irresponsible.

Dream scenario would be Barrett Jones at the top of the third.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:19 AM   #52
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Originally Posted by Buzz_TinBalls View Post
"When coaches talk about position hierarchy, left tackle isn't among the top few anymore," an AFC team exec says. "Now it's QB, pass rusher, cornerback, wide receiver."

the point in this article is that the "trifecta" is void and the LT isn't even part of the equation anymore.
Then the point of the article is false. The spread option will eventually go the way of the 46 defense. You cannot consistently put your QB at risk in the NFL. Just look at the teams in the playoffs. Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers...none of them are ever going to run the spread option. You basically had RGIII, Kaepernick, and Wilson (sort of) and RGIII got hurt. This is typical lazy journalism by ESPN and it is what I have come to expect from the Worldwide Leader in hype.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:28 AM   #53
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Then the point of the article is false. The spread option will eventually go the way of the 46 defense. You cannot consistently put your QB at risk in the NFL. Just look at the teams in the playoffs. Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers...none of them are ever going to run the spread option. You basically had RGIII, Kaepernick, and Wilson (sort of) and RGIII got hurt. This is typical lazy journalism by ESPN and it is what I have come to expect from the Worldwide Leader in hype.
So, you are basically saying that approximately half the teams in the playoffs were operating out of a spread system (and Brady definitely runs a spread almost all the time - he's not a runner, but it most certainly is a spread type system that they employ in NE these days).

And it's not like there is a singular "system" at this point anyway. Most teams are utilizing variants of numerous systems on both sides of the ball. You'll see cover 2's, 46's, 43's, 34's, etc. out of one team.

It's not three yards and a cloud of dust with the best players on the best teams winning. Teams have been forced to employ various sets in order to counter the innovations that we've seen on both sides of the ball in the past decade.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:37 AM   #54
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did you read this or are you drunk.
Ehhh talk to text on my cell phone. It's usually fairly accurate.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:39 AM   #55
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This article is complete BS. The Ravens were having O-line problems. When McKenzie came on board, Oher volunteered to move to right. Oher spent his rookie year at right tackle. The move made Flacco a better QB. In the same division as Von Miller, I'll take the bookend tackles.
Over a good QB?

Fail.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:45 AM   #56
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So, you are basically saying that approximately half the teams in the playoffs were operating out of a spread system (and Brady definitely runs a spread almost all the time - he's not a runner, but it most certainly is a spread type system that they employ in NE these days).

And it's not like there is a singular "system" at this point anyway. Most teams are utilizing variants of numerous systems on both sides of the ball. You'll see cover 2's, 46's, 43's, 34's, etc. out of one team.

It's not three yards and a cloud of dust with the best players on the best teams winning. Teams have been forced to employ various sets in order to counter the innovations that we've seen on both sides of the ball in the past decade.
There is a difference between a spread option offense and using multiple wide receivers to spread out the defense. There are 12 teams that made the playoffs, and two used the spread option a majority of the time and Seattle used it some, but Wilson is more of a pocket passer that runs when he needs to. Having an upper echelon LT is still one of the most important positions in football and anyone suggesting differently is wrong. LT is definitely more important than CB in today's NFL.

The article even contradicts itself by saying pass rusher is important, but The LT's importance is diminished. Who do they think has the job of blocking these important pass rushers?
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:50 AM   #57
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There is a difference between a spread option offense and using multiple wide receivers to spread out the defense. There are 12 teams that made the playoffs, and two used the spread option a majority of the time and Seattle used it some, but Wilson is more of a pocket passer that runs when he needs to. Having an upper echelon LT is still one of the most important positions in football and anyone suggesting differently is wrong. LT is definitely more important than CB in today's NFL.

The article even contradicts itself by saying pass rusher is important, but The LT's importance is diminished. Who do they think has the job of blocking these important pass rushers?
It also says you need to be good across your whole front 5.

Spread concepts mean a spread out field, more receivers, faster throws, more space. That's why elite o-line isn't as important as elite pass rush, and coverage guys that neutralize the quick passing game.

The league is always changing, many people still see the NFL teams built in the 80's and 90's as how one builds a team today.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:57 AM   #58
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:58 AM   #59
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:59 AM   #60
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That's why elite o-line isn't as important as elite pass rush
This is a contradictory statement.
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