Last week was a tough one in terms of surprise injuries: guys that played the week prior, and seemed good to go on Wednesday, when this article is written, but ended up missing the game. But that's life in the league for the big men. The #offensiveline, week 11, let's get after it!
How does a line go from low-tier to high-tier in a week? Lose 4 starters to injury and then gain them all back in a similar fashion. Washington's offensive line was at full strength last week for their home loss to Minnesota. Left tackle Trent Williams is still playing through an injury that requires season-ending surgery, but it turns out that 75% of Williams is better than 100% of T.J. Clemmings, who is the backup while Ty Nsekhe continues to rehab his groin. Chase Roullier started his third consecutive game at center, but Roullier yielded to Spencer Long as the game progressed. With the usual gang back in the starting lineup, Washington's offensive line soars up the latest rankings.
Veteran right guard Larry Warford rejoined New Orleans' starting lineup in time for last week's big road win at Buffalo. Warford and rookie right tackle Ryan Ramcyzk formed an effective duo in the run game. While it true that the Bills' rush defense has not looked the same since trading Marcel Dareus, the Saints' line has been trending upward generally. The line has been mauling defenders, and the unit has been helped by the improved health of left tackle Terron Armstead and the still elite play of center Max Unger. The Saints' offensive line grade out as a top-tier unit as the season heads into the stretch run.
The Buccaneers' offensive line dodged a bullet in Week 10 as they were expected to be without left tackle Donovan Smith and possibly right guard J.R. Sweezy due to injury. But both veterans were healthy enough to start and the line did a good job protecting backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in last weeks' home win over the New York Jets. The Buccanneers' line is now one of the few enjoying a full cohesion score and that plus their recent uptick in form is worth a mid-tier grade in the latest rankings.
Left tackle Tyron Smith missed last week's loss to Atlanta and, as most of the football world knows by now, his replacements Chaz Green and Byron Bell gave up a million sacks. It was actually more like 6 sacks all to Adrian Clayborn, with one being a scramble run. Still, the offense clearly wasn't good without Smith, who has been dealing with a nagging back injury and had played through it most of the season. Without their star, the Cowboys' offensive line grade falls from super elite to merely very good. They are still a top-tier unit, however. Most quarterbacks get 2.5 seconds in the league to make a decision. Just because Dak Prescott used to get 5 doesn't mean the Cowboys' line is suddenly garbage.
Right guard Kyle Long was active but only played one snap in last week's loss to Green Bay. Long has been battling a nagging finger injury. While that is the official explanation, one has to wonder if Long's earlier fighting with teammates (and other shenanigans) has him in the coach's doghouse. Without Long, the team moved usual center Cody Whitehair to guard and elevated Hroniss Grasu to play center. Grasu is a talented young player and despite the lack of recent fantasy fireworks, the Bears' offensive line remains a top-tier option.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn missed the Week 10 loss to New Orleans with his lingering foot/ankle injuries. In his place, rookie Dion Dawkins had an excellent game. Dawkins has started five games this year and is slated to make his sixth this week. This downgrade is mostly due to cohesion, as Dawkins and right tackle Jordan Mills have both been good in recent weeks. Right guard Vlad Ducasse remains a mauler in the run game. This Bills' offensive line falls to the mid-tier for now but is playing well overall. It would not be surprising if the offense gains momentum with the quarterback change. It also would not be a shock if Dawkins continues to gain experience and "Wally Pips" Glenn's left tackle job long term. In the short term these tackles face a tough matchup this week when the team travels to Los Angeles to face the Chargers' high impact pass rush duo of Melvin Ingram III and Joey Bosa.
The Jaguars' offensive line got some good news when right guard A.J. Cann returned to the line up for the win against Cincinnati. But there was surprise bad news as right tackle Jermey Parnell missed the contest with a knee injury. Josh Wells got the start in Parnell's place. Left guard Patrick Omameh started the game but left with a leg (quadriceps) injury. Neither Omameh nor Wells are practicing this week. Tyler Shatley, who has done a heroic job this season starting multiple games at center for Bradon Linder, finished the game for Omameh and could get the start again this week. The coaches like Shatley, who was forced into duty as the emergency long snapper last week on field goals. This downgrade is mostly on the difference between Parnell and Wells. Wells is a good run blocker but he seems more natural on the left side for whatever reason and had trouble with his pass protection last week. The Jaguars' run-first unit falls to the mid-tier while their usual right tackle is on the mend.
Right tackle Ju'Wuan James was placed on the injured reserve list prior to last week's Monday Night Football loss to Carolina. The official explanation is a left hamstring injury. And while certainly, a hamstring injury could be serious enough to warrant injured reserve, this move could also be a nod to the future, where James is unlikely to factor into the team's long-term plans. In James' place, Jesse Davis got the start at right tackle. Davis is a converted defensive lineman who is a physical specimen, but as one would expect, he is technically still quite raw. The coaches like Davis, who had been starting at left guard for Anthony Steen. Ted Larsen got that left guard start while Davis moves out to right tackle. The Dolphins' line grades out as a low-tier unit in the latest rankings.
Right guard T.J. Lang was a surprise scratch last week against Cleveland as he was placed in the concussion protocol. Lang had been battling back injuries in prior weeks and had not been 100%, but, at this point in the season, few players are 100%. In Lang's place, Corey Robinson got his first start of the year. The usual swing tackle, Robinson was decent in the spot start. It will be interesting to see if Chicago game-plans against Robinson this week. Without their usual right guard, the Lions' offensive line falls to the low tier.
Right tackle Joe Barksdale was questionable last week with a turf toe, but his participation in practice led these rankings to believe he'd get the start. This was not the case. Instead, Barksdale missed his fourth straight start while Michael Schofield continued to fill-in Barksdale's place. This turf toe injury continues to linger, Barksdale will be kept out of the ranks until proven otherwise. Some believe this Chargers' shuffled offensive line to be underrated. Certainly, this week will be a stern test if starting quarterback Phillip Rivers is out of action.
|3||WAS||32||29||30.55||A||A+||A-||All WAS starters played Week 10.|
|4||DAL||1||-3||30.48||A||A+||A-||LT Smith (Green/Bell) .|
|5||NO||11||6||30.28||A||A||A||RG Warford returned.|
|7||CHI||4||-3||29.78||A-||A||B+||RG Long (Grasu).|
|8||TEN||7||-1||29.63||A-||A||B+||LG Spain (Schwenke).|
|13||BUF||6||-7||28.98||B+||A-||B||LT Glenn (Dawkins)|
|14||JAX||10||-4||28.9||B+||A-||B||RT Parnell (Wells).|
|16||NE||15||-1||28.78||B||B||B||RT Cannon (Waddle)|
|17||TB||24||7||28.78||B||B||B||LT Smith returned.|
|18||CAR||17||-1||28.6||B||B+||B-||C Kalil (Larsen)|
|19||MIN||19||0||28.6||B||B+||B-||RT Remmers (Hill).|
|23||MIA||16||-7||28.18||B-||C+||B||RT James to IR (Davis). LG Steen (Larsen).|
|24||DET||18||-6||28.1||C+||C+||C+||RG Lang (Robinson).|
|25||GB||25||0||28.1||C+||C||B-||RT Bulaga (McCray)|
|28||NYG||28||0||27.98||C||C+||C-||RT Pugh (Hart).|
|29||DEN||29||0||27.93||C||C||C||RT Watson (Barbre/Stephenson).|
|30||CIN||30||0||27.9||C||C+||C-||RT Fisher to IR (Smith).|
|32||LAC||22||-10||27.78||C-||C-||C-||RT Barksdale (Schofield)|
If there are any questions about a team or lineman not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via Twitter.
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