This is a rare week in offensive line news, one where the upgrades vastly outnumber the downgrades. A number of key starters are regaining health just in time for week six. We also have a mailbag question to answer about the Dallas Cowboys' rating. The big men. The #offensiveline. Let's get after it!
ATL + 6
Right tackle Ryan Schraeder cleared the league's concussion protocol on Monday and is expected to rejoin the starting lineup this week when the Falcons host Miami. Ty Sambrailo had been starting, and while the run blocking has been fine, the pass protection took a hit with Schraeder out of the lineup. The Falcons' offensive line was already a top-tier unit, but the return of their starting right tackle boosts their rating even higher.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga returned to the lineup last week, and his blocking was key to securing the win over Dallas. Bulaga had been battling an ankle injury. He and Jahri Evans can be road graders together on the right side. On the left side, David Bakhtiari is still out with a hamstring injury (but he is nearing full health). Lane Murphy has done a heroic job sliding from left guard to left tackle in the last two contests. Overall the Packers' line is getting healthier. They have clawed their way out of the low-tier in the latest ratings.
Center Ryan Kelly made his season debut in last week's win over the San Francisco 49ers. Ryan had been out about a month after undergoing foot surgery in the preseason. It was a mixed first game back as quarterback Jacoby Brissett was sacked six times last week. However, with Kelly back and left tackle Anthony Castonzo playing at a high level, this line should be trending upward as they regain cohesion. Playing musical chairs at the center position had been holding this young but talented unit back from their potential.
NYJ + 5
Right tackle Brandon Shell returned to the lineup last week during the win at Cleveland. Shell had missed one game with a shoulder injury but he and right guard Brian Winters combined to have a very strong game in pass protection, despite both committing false start penalties. Center Wesley Johnson has been struggling but overall the Jets' line is trending upward ever so slightly. They are still a low-tier unit but they are moving in the right direction.
BUF - 11
Right guard John Miller missed last week's loss, leaving journeyman Vlad Ducasse to get the start in his place. While Ducasse and the rest of the line have no problem run blocking, the pass protection has been poor this season for the Bills' offensive line. Left tackle Dion Dawkins continues to start, even though Cordy Glenn was active last week. It is not clear if Glenn is still ailing or if this is a permanent lineup change. Either way, the Bills' line looks disjointed and quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been under a ton of pressure this season. With the latest rating the Bills are a low-tier line going into their bye week.
A reader emailed asking if the high grade on the Dallas offensive line was accurate, given the team's win-loss record. The bottom line is yes. The Cowboys' offense has scored four touchdowns and lost at home two weeks in a row. There are those critiquing the guard play of Zack Martin (and maybe that's fair) but the offensive line has a ton of talent and that talent should rise to the top as the season progresses.
|3||ATL||9||6||31.05||A+||B+||A||RT Schraeder returns.|
|9||PIT||8||-1||29.65||B+||B+||B+||RT Gilbert (Hubbard).|
|MID TIER||12||NO||12||0||29.03||B+||B+||B+||LT Armstead (Peat) RT Streif (Ramcyzk).|
|16||GB||31||15||28.85||B||B-||B+||RT Bulaga returns. LT Bakhtiari (Murphy).|
|20||IND||25||5||28.63||B-||B-||C||C Kelly returns.|
|21||CAR||19||-2||28.6||B-||B||B-||C Kalil (Larsen)|
|LOW TIER||22||HOU||20||-2||28.6||B-||B||B-||LT Brown holding out.|
|23||NYJ||28||5||28.48||C+||C+||C+||RT Shell returns.|
|25||KC||23||-2||28.28||C+||B-||C||C Morse (Fulton) & RG Duvernay. (Devey)|
|27||BUF||16||-11||28.1||C||C+||C-||RG Miller (Ducasse).|
|28||CIN||26||-2||27.9||C||C+||C-||LT Smith rotating at both OT spots.|
|30||AZ||29||-1||27.7||C-||C-||D+||LG Boone (Holden).|
|31||NYG||30||-1||27.6||C-||C-||D+||RT Hart returns.|
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.