Duane Brown is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season as the Texans left tackle and he may be having the worst season of anyone on the line. Judging offensive linemen is typically a pretty subjective process, but there are a few things that we can look at to get a pretty good feel for it.
It typically takes several years of playing at an elite level to garner much recognition, but the Texans unit may be on its way there if they can keep up their play. One of the best ways to statistically measure an offensive line is by the Adjusted Line Yards that Football Outsiders provides.
The Texans interior offensive line ranks as the best in the NFL. However, if you were to go ask most of the talking heads to name the Texans interior line they probably wouldn't be able to name any of them. Despite that, Wade Smith, Chris Myers, and Mike Brisiel have been fantastic this year. They have opened up enormous holes for Arian Foster, Ben Tate, and now Derrick Ward.
There have only been six teams in NFL history that have had two backs go for over 1,000 yards but the Texans may be well on their way to doing just that. Arian Foster should be able to get to 1,000 yards in his sleep. He is currently at 740 yards on the season and with five games left he should have no problem hitting 1,000. Tate obviously gets fewer carries while Foster is healthy and running well but if he can average just 52 yards per game he will break the 1,000 yard mark in his first NFL season.
Through the first 10 games, there have only been three games that Tate has not had at least 52 yards. That is due in large part to right tackle Eric Winston. The Texans rank seventh when they run behind Winston and sixth as they get to the outside on the right side. The Texans run to the right hand side of the line the 4th highest percentage of the time in the NFL, following only Green Bay, Dallas, and Chicago.
The Texans are 7-3 for the first time in franchise history and they couldn't be here without the stellar play of their offensive line. They control the line of scrimmage, create lanes for their running backs, protect Schaub and as important as anything, they give this team an attitude. For the first time the Texans are nasty, tough, and in your face; that all starts up front.