10 Best Offensive Line Units from the 2011 Season

Ryan Riddle@@Ryan_RiddleCorrespondent IMay 18, 2012

10 Best Offensive Line Units from the 2011 Season

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    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

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    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. 

     

     

     

     

    Category Rankings:

    Sacks: fifth

    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

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    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.

     

     

    Category Rankings:

    Sacks: first

    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

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    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.

     

    Category Rankings:

    Sacks: 13th

    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

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    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.

     

     

     

     

    Category Rankings:

    Sacks: 27th

    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

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    The high score of the Jets offensive line is primarily because of individual production led by Nick Mangold.

    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.

     

    Category Ranks:

    Sacks: 20th

    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

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    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.

     

     

    Category Ranks:

    Sacks: eighth

    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

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    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.

     

    Category Rankings:

    Sacks: 15th

    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

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    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.

     

     

     

    Category Rankings:

    Sacks: 12th

    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

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    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. 


    Category Ranks:

    Sacks: second

    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

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    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. 

     

     

     

     

     

    Category Rankings:

    Sacks: 11th

    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.