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Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 12 - Footballguys

Offensive line related news, injuries and updates, prior to week twelve of the regular season.

UPGRADES

Dallas up eight slots.

The team fired offensive line coach Paul Alexander mid-season and elevated former Boston College great Marc Columbo to Alexander's old job. The line has been much improved under Columbo, who has recently found a capable lineup. Left guard Xavier Su'a-Filo, who replaced the injured rookie Connor Williams over the last two games, has been a force in run blocking. Williams started the year well but (as is common for rookies), he struggled to control larger defensive tackles at the point of attack. Williams' knee injury and subsequent arthroscopic surgery gave the opportunity for Su'a-Filo to win the confidence of the coaches. Su'a-Filo has bounced around several rosters but he is a more natural fit at guard than Williams, who played tackle in college. While both are listed at 310 on team's official website, Williams was 296 at the combine while Su'a-Filo looks to be carrying around at least 320 if not more. The rushing attack has been more rugged of late, and the improved line is a big part of their recent success. In other news, left tackle Tyron Smith suffered a stinger during last week's win over Atlanta. Smith only missed four snaps (he was replaced by Cameron Fleming) and was able to re-enter the game. Assuming Smith is ready to play this Thursday against Washington, this Cowboys' line once again grades inside the top-tier of the latest rankings.

Seattle up two slots.

The Seahawks' offensive line was called for four false starts last week during the game over Green Bay, to make a total of sixteen on the season to date. This is a troubling trend and usually not how upgrade blurbs start, but the Packers were reportedly faking snaps, or in other words, calling out their defensive signals in a style which mimics the offense's snap count. The officials shut down the practice in the second half and the Seahawks' larger, more physical offensive line was able to wear down the Packers' defense. This is the recipe for the rushing offense so far this season: rely upon larger players such as right tackle Germain Ifedi, eligible-tight end George Fant, right guard D.J. Fluker, and the undrafted starter from two weeks ago, Jordan Simmons, to overpower or neutralize defenders. This line looks good and at this point in the season, they have to be considered among the more devastating groups.

Washington up 17 slots.

After missing the last two games with a fractured thumb, left tackle Trent Williams has been practicing in a limited fashion at practice this week. Head coach Jay Gruden told the press he was optimistic Williams would be ready for the team's Thursday game at their divisional rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Big time players tend to get healthy for games on the big stage, and there are few stages as big as playing on Thanksgiving. The model expects Williams to cast it up and start the contest. While he might have some trouble grabbing onto the opposing defenders, this game is too big and too important for Williams to miss. The line is a solid mid-tier group with their best player, but only a low-tier line without him.

Detroit up four slots.

After giving up sixteen sacks in the two weeks prior, the Lions' line only allowed one sack during last week's game against the Carolina Panthers. Pass protection looked to be greatly improved and veteran right guard Kenny Wiggins had his best performance since joining the team, throwing key blocks on both of Kerryon Johnson's touchdown runs. Wiggins is starting for TJ Lang, who was placed on injured reserve. This modest upgrade is technically due to an increase in cohesion between Wiggins and the rest of his team, but the result is more time in the pocket for quarterback Matthew Stafford to make decisions. The Lions' line is trending upward, and they grade out exactly average in the latest ratings at 16th overall.

NY Jets up two slots.

Center Spencer Long has had the bye week to heal his dislocated finger and he has been practicing with the team this week. Long is projected to get the start for the team's home game against New England. While Long's recent struggle with shotgun snaps made big news, he is a Nebraska alum and an adequate player when healthy. It should be noted Long has also struggled with a knee injury, so assuming his full health this week, or at any point this season, may be overly optimistic. Still, Long is a veteran and better than the alternative, Jonotthan Harrison, and not just on paper. Harrison got the start at the pivot during the team's blowout loss to Buffalo and did not look good. Assuming their starting center returns, Jets' line grades slightly higher in the latest rankings.

NY Giants up four slots.

The Giants have won two games since acquiring Jamon Brown off of waivers from the Los Angeles Rams and giving him the starting right guard position. Brown has solidified the spot in between Spencer Pulley and Chad Wheeler and the offense looks greatly improved in both run blocking and pass protection. This recent form could be fool's gold, the result of favorable matchups against weaker defenses such as San Francisco and Tampa Bay. But giving this unit the benefit of the doubt (and a cohesion upgrade), the Giants' line is trending upward. Their grade technically qualifies them as mid-tier, a welcome change from their usual grade of the cellar in the rankings.

DOWNGRADES

Atlanta down ten slots.

The Falcons' offensive line has not had a good year injury-wise, losing two starting guards (Brandon Fusco and Andy Levitre) to injured reserve. But the players who remain in the lineup are underperforming. Fellow Footballguy Matt Waldman noticed the breakdown of the Falcons' tackle play after their Week 10 loss to Cleveland. While Jake Matthews' struggles with star defensive end Myles Garrett can be understood, right tackle Ryan Schraeder's recent play has been particularly troubling. To quote the speculation of a Falcons' beat writer, "Ryan Schraeder is either playing hurt or the team needs to look at replacing him." Although there is no clear explanation of Schraeder's current form, the former All-Pro tackle has to be individually downgraded in the latest rankings. Once a top-tier line, the Falcons are playing more like a mid-tier unit.

Indianapolis down six slots.

During the fourth quarter of the win against Tennessee, starting center Ryan Kelly was forced from the game with a knee injury. Kelly had an MRI this week and is questionable. All signs point to Evan Boehm, a journeyman on his third team this season, to make his first start at center since his senior season at Missouri. Boehm is actually a decent backup who should be fine, but there will be a downgrade from Kelly. The Colts' coaches have called Kelly the best center in football this year, and while this statement is debatable, it is true Kelly and the Colts' line have been playing at an elite level, as quarterback Andrew Luck has not been sacked for over a month. The team looks for the streak to the continue this week against Miami. But assuming Kelly is out, the line falls a few spots in the latest rankings.

Houston down three slots.

Both starting guards Senio Kelemete (ankle) and Zach Fulton (shoulder) were forced from the away win at Washington. Each is questionable but included in this week's model against Tennessee. Greg Mancz and Martinas Rankin were the replacements last week, and while Mancz is a decent interior backup, the rookie Rankin has been an easy target for opposing defenses all year. The cohesion downgrade is based on the uncertainty. The guards could attempt to start this game but not be able to finish it, leaving the overmatched backups to see crucial snaps late in the contest. The Texans look to build upon their active seven-game win streak, but the offensive line has been a gamble all season.

Jacksonville down seven slots.

Right guard AJ Cann was forced from the home loss against Pittsburgh with a hamstring injury. This was an aggravation of an existing strain and he appears unlikely to be ready to play this week. As Dr. Jene Bremel's articles every week will attest, setbacks to existing hamstring injuries need additional time (usually multiple weeks) to recover. The timetable for a lineman will be shorter than an offensive skill position or linebacker, but still, the model leaves Cann out of the latest rankings. If he makes a quick recovery, they rank 24th. If not, Chris Reed replaced Cann in the game and would be expected to get the ninth start of his career this week at Buffalo. Last week's lineup did well in run blocking but struggled with pass protection. With Ereck Flowers as the fourth starting left tackle of the season and Tyler Shatley subbing for Brandon Linder at center, the Jaguars offensive line has been snake-bit by injury and in the low-tier of the latest rankings.

OTHER NEWS

AZ - Seventh-round rookie Korey Cunningham got a start. The rookie earned the praise of his coaches after the loss against Oakland but the model assumes the usual starter D.J. Humphries will be ready for the away contest against the Los Angeles Chargers.

BAL - LT Stanley & LG Lewis playing hurt. LT Ronnie Stanley (high ankle sprain) started against Cincinnati but couldn't finish (Jermaine Elumunor replaced Stanley for the final ten snaps). Left guard Alex Lewis also briefly left the game (Bradley Bozeman replaced) but Lewis was able to return. James Hurst is still nursing a back injury. The model assumes Stanley and Lewis will play this week against Oakland but then again, the team could decide to rest these veterans against the Raiders' anemic pass rush.

DEN - Billy Turner & Elijah Wilkinson get starts. Turner especially looked good in his first start at left guard (he had started the previous five games at right guard). Both he and Wilkinson have converted to guard from tackle, and the Broncos' offensive system appears to be trending toward more power run blocking. This line is a candidate for an upgrade in the near future.

MIN - Tom Compton & Danny Isidora split reps. LG Tom Compton started last week's game against Chicago but was forced from the contest in the third quarter with an apparent injury. Danny Isidora took about half of the left guard snap (36-31, in favor of Compton). Remmers also hobbled through the game with a bad back. The model assumes they all play.

PHI - C Jason Kelce has an elbow injury. Kelce was forced from the blowout loss to New Orleans with a hyperextended elbow. If Kelce misses time, this line falls to the mid-tier.

FULL RANKINGS

Rank
Team
Old
Diff
Score
Overall Grade
Run Grade
Pass Grade
Cohesion
Notes
1
LAR
1
0
32.3
A+
A+
A
5.0
2
PHI
2
0
32.0
A+
A+
A
3.5
3
GB
4
1
31.0
A
B+
A
4.5
4
PIT
3
-1
30.7
A
A+
A-
4.5
5
DAL
13
8
30.3
A
A+
A-
4.0
LG X. Su'a-Filo run block upgrade over injured rookie Connor Williams.
6
SEA
8
2
30.1
A
A+
A-
5.0
LG J.R. Sweezy run block upgrade.
7
LAC
6
-1
30.0
A-
A
B+
5.0
8
SF
7
-1
30.0
A-
B+
A
4.5
9
BAL
9
0
29.8
B+
A-
B
4.0
10
NO
10
0
29.8
B+
B
A-
5.0
LT Terron Armstead likely to miss several weeks with a shoulder injury (J. Bushrod).
11
TEN
12
1
29.6
B+
A-
B
4.5
12
CLE
14
2
29.5
B+
A-
B
4.5
13
OAK
15
2
29.2
B
A-
C+
4.0
14
WAS
31
17
29.2
B
B+
B-
4.0
Assuming LT Trent Williams is ready for Thursday (#32 line without Williams).
15
ATL
5
-10
29.1
B
B+
B-
3.0
RT Ryan Schraeder individual downgrade / overall cohesion downgrade.
16
DET
20
4
29.0
B
B
B
4.5
17
IND
11
-6
28.9
B
B-
B+
4.5
C Ryan Kelly might miss time (Evan Boehm). #11 line with Kelly.
18
NE
16
-2
28.9
B-
C+
B
5.0
19
CIN
17
-2
28.8
B-
B
C+
4.0
20
CAR
18
-2
28.6
C+
C+
C+
4.0
21
MIN
19
-2
28.6
C+
C-
B
4.5
22
TB
21
-1
28.5
C+
C
B-
4.0
23
NYJ
25
2
28.5
C+
B
C-
4.0
Assuming C Spencer Long is ready for Sunday.
24
NYG
28
4
28.5
C+
B
C-
4.5
RG Jamon Brown run blocking upgrade / overall cohesion upgrade.
25
CHI
22
-3
28.3
C+
B-
C
4.5
26
HOU
23
-3
28.2
C
B-
D+
4.5
27
KC
26
-1
28.0
C
C-
C+
3.0
C Mitch Morse in concussion protocol (Austin Reiter at C). #10 line with Morse.
28
BUF
27
-1
28.0
C
C+
C-
4.5
29
MIA
29
0
27.8
C-
C
D+
4.5
30
AZ
30
0
27.5
C-
C
D+
4.5
31
JAX
24
-7
27.4
C-
C+
D
3.5
RG A.J. Cann forced from game (Chris Reed). Ereck Flowers starting at LT.
32
DEN
32
0
27.3
C-
C
D+
4.0

If you have a question about a player, team or matchup not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact the author via Twitter.

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