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Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 2

Updates on injuries and other offensive line related news, prior to week two of the regular season.

After one week of regular season action, there are several changes to starting lineups due to injury. In addition there are a couple of performanced based upgrades, and an exciting new feature, "weekly matchups of note". Let's get right into it:

UPGRADES

Kansas City plus 5.

The Kansas City Chiefs offensive line had an outstanding day against the Houston Texans in Week one. Center Mitch Morse was flat out dominant against nose tackle Vince Wilfork, and this player is making a name for himself in the league as one of the better young centers in the league.  Right tackle Eric Fisher was a late scratch with an ankle injury, but recently acquired swing tackle Jah Reid did an admirable job against J.J. Watt. Fisher is not expected to be ready by this week’s Thursday night game, but in the light of Reid’s performance, and the way the offense produced against a decent Texans defense, the line ranking doesn’t deserve to be downgraded in the model. Left tackle Donald Stephenson had an uneventful day, which is what you want out of left tackles. With Morse and Stephenson playing well, this is a small upgrade to the Chiefs' line. Overall the Chiefs’ line is upgraded five spots and currently check in at 13th in the latest offensive line rankings.  They are still just outside of top tier, but gaining ground.

Atlanta plus 5.


It's been a while since he was a rookie but Jake Long is more than just Kyle's older brother. Pending physical fitness, Jake Long has been the biggest name free agent offensive lineman on the market. The Falcons announced on Monday night that Long has signed. Long is obviously coming off of injury, but it's feasible to count on him as a backup if Jake Matthews is injured. In a couple weeks, after learning the verbiage, perhaps he is a viable alternative to right tackle Ryan Schraeder. Maybe he gets on the field at guard or extra tight end in "jumbo" package. It's not exactly clear where Long will play or when but the model rewards players that have done it before and it rewards teams that prioritize the position. The Falcons’ depth is helped greatly by this move. They get a five slot upgrade, checking in at 22nd in the latest offensive line rankings. This team is still in the lower tier but they are getting closer to mid tier with the addition of Long. He and recently acquired left guard Andy Levitre are run-first guys that are more comfortable going forward than in pass protection. The could translate into additional production for running back Tevin Coleman, who had 80 yards on 20 carries in his debut against a talented Philadelphia defensive front seven. 

Downgrades:

Baltimore minus 9.

 

The Ravens lost left tackle Eugene Monroe after only one drive against the Broncos, and the diagnosis was a concussion. It is not clear if Monroe will be ready for the week two contest. The verbiage has been negative and these rankings are assuming he will be out at least one week. In his place, James Hurst struggled with the Denver pass rush. Quarterback Joe Flacco was pressured on almost 65% of his drop back attempts. If Monroe’s injury becomes a longer term concern, the team might want to shuffle the line further, and perhaps move Marshal Yanda to the blind side. Starting right tackle Rick Wagner also had a tough day, and he doesn’t have the excuse of being injured. The Ravens’ offensive line remains a top tier unit but concerns about their tackles have forced their ranking down nine spots, to 11th in the latest offensive line rankings.  Should Monroe come back and demostrate his health, they should return to the top 5 of the rankings.

San Diego minus 4.

 

Right guard D.J. Fluker was rolled up on in blocking and was carted away from the game against Detroit. The injury is being reported as a high ankle sprain.  While Fluker has not been officially ruled out of the game at Cincinnati, beat writers are predicting that this player could miss “considerable time” likely in the range of 4 to 6 weeks. In his place, Chris Hairston (who never played guard at any level) did a decent job filling in for Fluker. He needed the constant instruction of center Chris Watt to help him through the contest, and Watt may have been distracted, recording both a high snap and a holding penalty. Last year’s right guard starter Johnnie Troutman is almost fully recovered from an arm injury, and could be available for Week 3. Without Fluker, the Chargers drop four spots to 27th overall in the latest offensive line rankings.  Keep in mind however that Phillip Rivers is used to operating behind a make shift offensive line, and this down grade is probably more relevant to the rushing production, and players such as Melvin Gordon III.

Jacksonville minus 9.

Fresh off of our recent upgrade of this unit, the line gave up five sacks in the loss against Carolina. Key to understanding this situation is the injury to left tackle Luke Joeckel, who was seen after the game in a walking boot. Joeckel has not officially been ruled out of the week two contest, but is expected to miss several weeks. His replacement, Sam Young, was beat for two sacks and is the type of player who is only employed because of his size. He’s just a bad player by any standard and this line is in real trouble without Joeckel. Young needs to leave the lineup. Without their starting left tackle, the Jaguars drop nine spots in our latest ranking, to 28th overall, again a low-tier grade in the latest offensive line rankings.

Tampa Bay minus 4.

 

Despite the pressure on the quarterback last week, the Buccaneers offensive line isn’t that bad in terms of talent. I still grade them out as a mid-tier unit and stand by that grade. The problem is too many penalties and it just looks unsettled. The rookie quarterback is not great at beating the blitz, and teams are blitzing. Ironically the team's best performer was the rookie guard, Ali Marpet out of Division III Hobart College. The team signed center Joe Hawley as a depth name but still this line gets a modest down grade, down four spots to 18th in the latest rankings. This is a small correction due to current playing form, but in terms of personnel they remain a mid-tier unit. They have talent, just have to play to their talent. They could bounce back however, it's unclear that the line alone can right this ship. It's alot easier for offensive lines when their quarterback is a franchise level player. Jameis Winston might get there one day but it's been a terrible start for the 2015 1st overall pick. 

Week 2 Matchups Of Note

 

Positive matchups to lean upon:

  • 8th CIN O-Line vs 30th SD defensive front seven (+22).
  • 3rd PHI O-Line vs 25th DAL defensive front seven (+22).
  • 10th MIA O-Line @ 28th JAX defensive front seven (+18).
  • 14th CHI O-Line vs 31st AZ defensive front seven (+17).

Positive matchup but shaky QB:

  • 2nd CLE O-Line vs 20th TEN defensive front seven (+18).
  • 18th TB O-Line @ 32nd NO defensive front seven (+14).

NEGATIVE MATCHUPS BUt Great QB:

  • 26th NE O-Line @ 4th BUF defensive front seven (-22).
  • 25th IND O-Line vs 11th NYJ defensive front seven (-14).   

Negative matchups to avoid:

  • 31st MIN O-Line vs 10th DET defensive front seven (-21).
  • 24th BUF O-Line vs 1st NE defensive front seven (-23).
  • 32nd STL O-Line @ 15th WAS defensive front seven (-17).

A look back at Week 1's matchups

This week I added a caveat about the quality of the quarterbacks. A team with a franchise caliber quarterback can overcome bad line play. A team with a shaky quarterback can make life harder. This can be seen in the performances of Matt Ryan and Phillip Rivers. These players can overcome terrible matchups, and were the inspiration for the middle ground categories. 

Going back to the Week 1's Matchups of note, the fade ATL and SD calls weren't great. However, this is a learning experience, and more positively, there was some valuable information in the first batch.

Green Bay did in fact run wild, in both the running and passing game, that was a great call. Also, it was smart to recommend staying away from both Seattle and St. Louis. Marshawn Lynch will have much better days than 18 carries for 73 yards (and a resounding stuff on 4th and 1 in overtime).  On the other side of the football, Rams quaterback Nick Foles had fantasy points but St. Louis did not have any running game of which to speak. 

Other news

New England started David Andrews at center.

With starter Bryan Stork placed on the IR-DFR list with a (presumably serious) concussion, and Ryan Wendell still banged up, the team turned to undrafted rookie David Andrews out of Georgia. Andrews played extremely well considering his lack of experience. Listed at 288 pounds, Andrews is somewhat undersized for the position and presumably will be targeted going forward. No change to their ranking at this time but this is a situation that bears further observation. The New England line is actually a bit of a mess but the quarterback play covers up alot of the ills of that team. Buffalo, with Marcel Dareus returning from suspension, should be a much sterner test this week. 

Detroit’s right guard and right tackle were late scratches.

Ascending right guard Larry Warford did not play last week due to a high ankle sprain. His linemate LaAdrian Waddle was also a late inactive. This left Manny Ramirez and Cornelius Lucas to start. Warford and Waddle have been spotted playing table tennis this week, so look for them to return to the lineup. No downgrade to the Lions’ offensive line at this time.

Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers injured his ankle.

Flowers played hurt on Sunday nighta and was sent for an MRI on Monday. It’s not clear that this player will miss any time, but this situation bears further observation.

Carolina right tackle Daryl Williams sprained his MCL.

Rookie Daryl Williams, who is currently not a starter, was diagnosed with a sprained knee and should miss two to four weeks. The coaches are high on this player and if healthy, Williams could push for a starting position later in the season.

Chicago moved  Kyle Long To right tackle, Vlad Ducasse started at RG.

Following up on last week's upgrade, the Bears did indeed move Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long to right tackle, and he got his first start against the Green Bay Packers. Long did well but his replacement at right guard, Vlad Ducasse was flagged for a false start penalty that took the team out of the red zone. There’s no downgrade to the line at this time.

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 or in the Shark Pool. 

OL Rankings in PDF Format

 

  Rank Team Old Diff Score Grade Run Pass Notes             
TOP TIER 1 DAL 1 0 32.9 A+ A+ A  
2 CLE 3 1 32.6 A A A-  
3 PHI 4 1 31.73 A A A-  
4 GB 5 1 31.6 A- A- A-  
5 NO 6 1 31.4 A- B+ A-  
6 HOU 7 1 30.98 B+ A- B  
7 WAS 8 1 30.9 B+ B+ B-  
8 CIN 9 1 30.65 B+ A B-  
9 NYJ 10 1 30.35 B+ A- B-  
10 MIA 11 1 30.3 B B+ B-  
11 BAL 2 -9 30.15 B B B Monroe concussion. 
MID TIER 12 OAK 12 0 29.78 B B+ B-  
13 KC 18 5 29.65 B B- B+ Morse looking great. 
14 CHI 13 -1 29.65 B B B  
15 DEN 15 0 29.23 B- C+ B  
16 PIT 16 0 29.15 B- B- B  
17 DET 17 0 28.98 B- B- B-  
18 TB 14 -4 28.9 B- B B-  
19 TEN 20 1 28.6 C+ C+ C+  
20 CAR 21 1 28.35 C+ C+ C  
21 SF 22 1 28.23 C+ B- C  
LOW TIER 22 ATL 27 5 28.05 C- C- C-  
23 AZ 24 1 27.95 C C- C+  
24 BUF 25 1 27.9 C C+ C-  
25 IND 26 1 27.85 C- C- C  
26 NE 28 2 27.73 C- C- C+  
27 SD 23 -4 27.65 C C- C+ Fluker ankle sprain. 
28 JAX 19 -9 27.65 D+ C- D+ Joekel ankle sprain. 
29 SEA 29 0 27.53 D+ D+ D+  
30 NYG 31 1 27.1 D D+ D  
31 MIN 30 -1 27.1 D D+ D  
32 STL 32 0 26.48 D D+ D-  

DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN RANKINGS: WEEK TWO

RANK TEAM                NOTES                                          
1 New England  
2 Seattle  
3 Kansas City  
4 Buffalo  
5 Philadelphia  
6 St. Louis  
7 Baltimore  
8 Carolina  
9 Miami  
10 Detroit  
11 New York (A) Richardson suspended
12 Denver  
13 Minnesota  
14 Houston  
15 Washington  
16 Cincinnati  
17 Tampa Bay  
18 Green Bay  
19 Indianapolis  
20 Tennessee  
21 Pittsburgh  
22 Oakland  
23 New York (N)  
24 San Francisco  
25 Dallas Hardy, McClain suspended
26 Cleveland  
27 Atlanta  
28 Jacksonville  
29 Chicago  
30 San Diego  
31 Arizona  
32 New Orleans