Finally, week one is in the books and we have some real film to examine! The rankings held up fairly decently but there is one major upgrade and several teams with serious injury news. The big men, the o-line, let's get after it!
With Sunday's games in the books, fellow Footballguy guru Jeff Haseley pointed out that 4 out of the bottom 5 ranked offensive lines in these rankings had lost their games. The Minnesota Vikings were yet to play and were ranked 32nd in last week's rankings. Twitter user Alan Thicc stated that "Minnesota can't be worse than Cinci." And he was right. In fact, the Vikings' offensive line showed serious signs of life against the New Orleans Saints' defensive front. Rookie center Pat Elfein played like a veteran at the pivot and the line had a nice moment on 3rd and 1 getting push in short yardage. Pass protection gave quarterback Sam Bradford time in the pocket to make his throws. The new tackles held up better than expected. It should be noted that Bradford played lights out, and not only was it at home but it was the opener. Overreaction is a risk. Still, we are upgrading for the Vikings' offensive line, who go from the basement to within sight of the mid-tier. If they keep playing this week, they will be a mid-tier line in no time.
AZ - 2
Left tackle D.J. Humphries was injured in last week's game against the Detroit Lions. Dr. Jene calls it a "right MCL sprain" and predicts that Humphries will miss at least a month, but it could be closer to two. John Wetzel took the left tackle spot in relief of Humphries and he struggled. Wetzel usually is one of the league's better backups and a decent spot starter but he's not the first round talent that Humphries was and Wetzel can be beaten with speed around the edge. The Cardinals' line takes a small but notable hit to their grade without their starting left tackle, and they grade out as more of a mid-tier unit at this time.
The struggles of right guard John Jerry continued as the entire Giants' offensive line looked out of sync in the Week 1 loss at Dallas. Quarterback Eli Manning only took four hits on the night but three of them were for sacks. Manning looked rattled all night against a fairly mediocre Cowboys' pass rush.Certainly, the absence of Odell Beckham hurt the Giants' offense, but there are other problems lurking below the surface. Right tackle Bobby Hart played the entire game with a limp, and the coaches are "uncertain" that he will start Week 2 against Detroit. D.J. Fluker would be the next man in for Hart, who did not look effective last week. Overall the Giants' offensive line is still a decent group but it's not accurate to label them top-tier until their play improves.
Right tackle Denzelle Good played the loss at Los Angeles, but he left the game during the contest. Jeremy Vujnovich took his place but he also was hurt during the contest. This week it was announced Good will be placed on injured reserve with a wrist injury. With Vujnovich also limited, in Good's place likely steps Le'Raven Clark. Clark has some experience but lost the job in the preseason. The team also worked out former Chiefs' backup Jah Reid. Left guard could be manned by Joe Haeg if Vujnovich cannot go. The coaches do not know what the lineup will be. Center Ryan Kelly is no longer wearing a walking boot but is still not practicing. Overall the Colts' line grade out as a low-tier unit, but they should get better when Kelly (and quarterback Andrew Luck) return to health.
The week's worst downgrade is saved for the New Orleans' Saints, who lost right tackle Zach Strief for at least several weeks with an MCL sprain (knee). In the loss at Minnesota, Streif was replaced by Senio Kelemete, who is really more of a backup interior lineman than a tackle. Still, the team is out of options as Ryan Ramcyzk struggled at left tackle in place of Terron Armstead. Bryce Harris is the next backup in after Kelemete and the team worked out free agent Eric Winston among others this week. The Saints' line could be in trouble in the early part of the year, at least until Armstead returns to health. They grade out as a low-tier unit in the latest rankings.
|13||AZ||11||-2||29.08||B+||B+||B+||LT Humphries out 4 weeks (Wetzel)|
|14||NYG||9||-5||28.98||B||B||B||RG Jerry downgrade, RT Hart ankle.|
|25||MIN||32||7||28.35||C||C||C||Great debut vs. NO.|
|27||IND||25||-2||28.2||C+||C-||C||RT Good knee surgery, placed on IR.|
|28||HOU||28||0||28.1||C||C||C||LT Brown still holding out.|
|29||NO||12||-17||27.4||C-||D+||C-||RT Strief injured MCL (multiple weeks).|
As usual, if you have a question about a team not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via Twitter.