10 Worst NFL Offensive Lines in 2011
Welcome back to those who read the first part of the offensive line series counting down the 10 best offensive lines from last year.
Using a unique combination of sources and statistical information, I was able to generate a scoring system in order to determine the best and worst offensive lines in the NFL in 2011.
The ranking of each offensive line was accomplished by adding together numerous key statistics as well as factoring in individual productivity and success. The elements that were 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.
And so, I bring to you the 10 worst offensive lines of 2011.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars
Interesting that the Jaguars didn't draft a single offensive lineman this offseason despite ranking better than only nine teams up front. I also found it interesting that a group which helps Maurice Jones-Drew win the NFL rushing title last year would be ranked among the league's worst.
Yet, surprisingly, as a team, the Jaguars only ranked 12th in rushing yards and 22nd in average yards per carry.
Nevertheless, the Jags must improve in order for their young QB Blaine Gabbert to have any success. Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe was by far their best offensive lineman, but he alone proved to be nowhere near enough to make up for a poor overall unit.
QB Hits Allowed: 18th
Rush Yards: 12th
Rush Average: 22nd
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 16th
Total Power Percentage: 20th
Individual Production: 25th
9. Chicago Bears
The Bears won eight games last year. If they have any plans to improve, they better focus attention on their offensive line.
Clearly, they struggled to protect Cutler and had terrible individual production.
QB Hits Allowed: 28th
Rush Yards: 9th
Rush Average: 11th
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 12th
Total Power Percentage: 4th
Individual Production: 30th
8. Miami Dolphins
The Fins went 6-10 last year despite a very productive season from Reggie Bush. However, once they fall behind in games and resort to the passing game, they struggle. They were worse than even the Bears at protecting the QB.
Although it would seem the running game was effective overall, the big boys up front were the second- worst team in the NFL at converting those must-have short-yardage situations. This is a sign of a struggling offensive line and a big reason they rank No. 8 on the list of worst in the NFL.
Oh and yes...this is the team that has Jake Long, perhaps one of the best tackles in the league.
QB Hits Allowed: 29th
Rush Yards: 11th
Rush Average: 15th
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 10th
Total Power Percentage: 30th
Individual Production: 15th
7. Detroit Lions
This may be a QB-driven league. If that 's the case, the Lions appear to be in decent shape. But, despite winning 10 games and having perhaps the best season since the days of Barry Sanders, the Lions have to shore up their offensive line if they intend on keeping the oft-injured Stafford healthy.
This team consistently was forced to throw the ball on 3rd and short. And even though they were productive in the passing game, they can stand to use more help protecting their blossoming franchise QB.
Either that or get a really good backup.
QB Hits Allowed: 21st
Rush Yards: 29th
Rush Average: 13th
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 12th
Total Power Percentage: 29th
Individual Production: 32nd
6. New York Giants
This may spawn a new wave of team building. The strategy would be to find your offensive linemen late in the draft while building a solid core of pass-rushers, and having a Pro-Bowl caliber QB while surrounding your offense with talented skill players.
Something worth noting is the Giants did manage to be the best of the worst at protecting their QB. They were just so horrible at every other facet of offensive line play.
Chris Snee is the most notable member of a front five that also includes a fourth- and sixth-round pick.
QB Hits Allowed: 14th
Rush Yards: 32nd
Rush Average: 32nd
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 31st
Total Power Percentage: 32nd
Individual Production: 19th
5. Seattle Seahawks
Throughout the season the Seahawks failed to protect the QB, run the ball and prevent negative plays. So what did the Hawks do this year in the draft? They completely ignored this glaring weakness.
Perhaps this was a result of the Giants' success, or perhaps they already invested an early pick the last two years with Russell Okung in 2010 (who is their best linemen) and James Carpenter in 2011.
It could also be they saw enough progress in their offensive production later in the season. Evidence of this is the way Marshawn Lynch came on strong and their No. 1 ranking in "total power percentage."
Seattle will be bringing 15 offensive linemen to camp this year. So it seems there should be good battles for starting spots on the fifth-worst unit in the NFL.
QB Hits Allowed: 31st
Rush Yards: 21st
Rush Average: 24th
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 32nd
Total Power Percentage: 1st
Individual Production: 26th
4. San Francisco 49ers
When you think of the 49ers, the first things that should come to mind is their toughness up front and ability to run the ball while controlling the clock. After all, they have invested some very high draft picks in recent years on the offensive line.
So, how did the 49ers actually make this list?
Well, even though they rarely threw the ball, they still managed to give up a large number of sacks and QB knockdowns.
But at least they were a tough bunch of guys who can get a decent push against the defense, right?
They wound up in the bottom half of the league in average yards per carry (20th) and ranked as one of the worst teams at getting that crucial yard when it matters (28th).
The 49ers ranked 26th in the league in total yard, which is not good at all for a team that ended up one game away from the Super Bowl.
Let this be a testament to just how good that defense really was.
QB Hits Allowed: 24th
Rush Yards: 8th
Rush Average: 20th
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 27th
Total Power Percentage: 28th
Individual Production: 21st
3. Washington Redskins
When your offensive line does little to nothing well, it makes sense that this unit would be ranked so low. The Skins really struggled to gain rushing yards, which is a rare occurrence for any Mike Shanahan-style offense.
Yes, this team had issues and inexperience at almost every skill position, but this still doesn't get the hogs off the hook.
The Redskins went 5-11 last year with this front five, which may explain why they spent one-third of their draft picks last April on offensive linemen.
QB Hits Allowed: 30th
Rush Yards: 25th
Rush Average: 23rd
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 17th
Total Power Percentage: 22nd
Individual Production: 27th
2. Arizona Cardinals
Not a whole lot went right for the Arizona Cardinals' offensive line last year. Only one team gave up more sacks or ranked lower in individual production. The Cardinals also struggled to run the ball with any consistency.
If this team is to take its game to the next level and into the playoffs, it is going to have to find some big-name players to bolster the offensive line.
That is the reason Arizona drafted three promising tackles in the draft. Hopefully, at least one of those guys can turn into the dominant force they've been seeking.
In the meantime, these new additions should at least upgrade one of the worst pass-protection teams in the league.
QB Hits Allowed: 27th
Rush Yards: 24th
Rush Average: 17th
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 24th
Total Power Percentage: 11th
Individual Production: 31st
1. St. Louis Rams
Perhaps the most telling statistic for the Rams' offensive line was ranking last in converting on 3rd- or 4th-and-short or short-yardage goal-line plays. They also finished last in QB sacks allowed, QB hits allowed and struggled to run the ball successfully.
The Rams may have been the worst team in the NFL last year and clearly have a lot of holes to fill. This offseason, they lost veteran Jacob Bell to free agency and didn't add any experience (besides Scott Wells) to the front unit to replace him or upgrade in general. Furthermore, they didn't draft an offensive lineman until the fifth round, and he was the only offensive lineman they drafted.
It should be interesting to see if this unit can improve with what looks to be virtually the same group that ranked so poorly this past year.
Let us bow our heads and say a prayer for the lowly Rams.
At least the Rams have a couple of young rising stars in Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith. They will need to improve and stay healthy if this team is to have any chance of a successful season.
It was also brought to my attention, by comments of this article, that it should be mentioned the Rams had several key injuries up front throughout the 2011 season and should be at least somewhat improved next year based on the healthy return of some critical members.
Only time will tell if next year will bring better days for the Rams big five.
QB Hits Allowed: 32nd
Rush Yards: 23rd
Rush Average: 19th
Big-Play vs. Negative-Play Ratio: 23rd
Total Power Percentage: 31st
Individual Production: 23rd