10 Best Offensive Line Units from the 2011 Season
Get ready NFL fans! Using a unique combination of several sources and statistical information, I was able to generate a very thorough scoring system in order to determine the best and worst offensive line units in the NFL for the 2011 season.
The total ranking of each offensive line was accomplished by ranking and adding together numerous key statistics as well as factoring in individual productivity and success. The elements that have been considered for the total scoring system are:
- —Sacks allowed
- —QB hits allowed
- —Total rush yards
- —Average yards per carry
- —Negative play to big play ratio (total rushing plays for a loss of yards vs. total rushing plays of 10-plus yards)
- —NFL.com's power percentage average. (Percentage of rushes on third or fourth down with two or fewer yards to go that achieved a first down or TD. Also includes rushes on 1st-and-goal and 2nd-and-goal from the opponent's 2-yard line or closer.)
- —Individual player production created from combining profootballfocus.com, Matt Miller's Bleacher Report rankings of the top offensive linemen in the NFL and Pat Kirwan's article "Protect and Serve: NFL's Best O-linemen Come in All Forms"—which took opinions from three NFL offensive line coaches to go along with his own.
All of these individual elements were brought together with a formula adding greater weight to more applicable categories to create a total score for each team's offensive line unit. And so, I bring to you the 10 best offensive lines in the NFL from the 2011 season.
10. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders O-line is a good group of guys that have little to no weaknesses as a whole despite virtually no individual stars up front.
QB Hits Allowed: seventh
Rush Yards: seventh
Rush Average: seventh
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: eighth
Total Power Percentage: 10th
Individual Production: 29th
9. Buffalo Bills
Led by Andy Levitre and Eric Wood, Buffalo was ranked No. 1 in QB sacks and ranked near the top at average yards per carry.
In fact, a lack of individual stars and an inability to get the tough yards when you must ended up being the main reasons the Bills were not ranked higher in 2011 as a group.
QB Hits Allowed: 10th
Rush Yards: 13th
Rush Average: fifth
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: 11th
Total Power Percentage: 25th
Individual Production: 17th
8. Baltimore Ravens
The highest ranked member of this group surprisingly is Marshal Yanda. The Ravens' O-line generally ranked above average in every category rather than being elite at any one thing.
But a unit with no weaknesses proves valuable enough to get the Ravens ranked all the way up to 8th overall.
QB Hits Allowed: 20th
Rush Yards: 10th
Rush Average: 14th
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: 13th
Total Power Percentage: 16th
Individual Production: seventh
7. Minnesota Vikings
Led By John Sullivan and Steve Hutchinson, the Vikings were one of the best teams in the league in the "power" running category while also struggling to protect their young QB.
Interestingly enough, having the seventh-best offensive line in the league did not prevent the Vikings from winning only three games last year.
The Vikings ran the ball very well and managed to have lots of big plays in the run game with relatively minimal negative plays.
QB Hits Allowed: 17th
Rush Yards: fourth
Rush Average: second
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: seventh
Total Power Percentage: second
Individual Production: 11th
6. New York Jets
The Jets were not a good rushing team in general, but when they needed one yard for that first down or touchdown (total power), they ranked among the highest in the league.
QB Hits Allowed: 11th
Rush Yards: 22nd
Rush Average: 29th
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: 22nd
Total Power Percentage: sixth
Individual Production: fifth
5. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers' O-line of 2011 was a group that rarely allowed opposing defenses to put their hands on Rivers.
They were also very good in the "total power" category and had no weaknesses despite lacking elite individual stars.
QB Hits Allowed: third
Rush Yards: 16th
Rush Average: 12th
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: fourth
Total Power Percentage: seventh
Individual Production: 14th
4. Carolina Panthers
When the panthers needed a yard for a first down or a touchdown, no team in the league was more successful than the Panthers. Led by Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil, Carolina was one of the best rushing teams in 2011.
Clearly, having two talented running backs and a big athletic QB factors heavily into their success, but the value of a solid front should not be left unnoticed.
Ultimately, this squad was able to finish in the top 10 in all categories except sacks allowed were they finished in the middle of the pack.
QB Hits Allowed: sixth
Rush Yards: third
Rush Average: first
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: first
Total Power Percentage: third
Individual Production: ninth
3. Houston Texans
Chris Myers is one of the highest rated and most consistent linemen in the league. The Texans successfully ran and threw the football while protecting the QB effectively.
QB Hits Allowed: ninth
Rush Yards: second
Rush Average: eighth
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: ninth
Total Power Percentage: 14th
Individual Production: second
2. New Orleans Saints
In 2011 the Saints had everything going for them in terms of their O-line finishing in the top six in every category except for "total power percentage."
The results were: top ranked QB protection, great numbers in the running game, lots of big plays from scrimmage and very few negative plays and a group of very productive individuals with ever strengthening reputations.
QB Hits Allowed: first
Rush Yards: sixth
Rush Average: fourth
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: sixth
Total Power Percentage: 13th
Individual Production: third
1. Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles did everything well as a front unit. Not only do they have the best offensive line in the league, they also have the best individual player in Jason Peters who will most likely miss the entire 2012 season with his second torn Achilles injury.
QB Hits Allowed: 13th
Rush Yards: fifth
Rush Average: third
Big Play vs. Negative Play Ratio: fifth
Total Power Percentage: ninth
Individual Production: first
Stay tuned for the 10 worst offensive lines in the NFL.