While the National Football League is a quarterback driven business and the franchise faces are the highest paid and asked to take on the larger portion of the responsibility of winning and losing – by all measure there is good reason that offensive linemen are coveted – and Week #1 of the 2017 NFL regular season slate offered evidence of why the aforementioned statement is fact.
Offensive linemen play in obscurity. Most NFL weekend warriors are unable to name the All-Pros at this position if asked. The larger number of NFL fanatics are unable to name their home team front-five (offensive line) without pause, if at all, and this is the positional group that ultimately protects their favorite – and the highest paid players – on Sunday afternoons.
Week #1 losses by teams expected to compete for a Super Bowl ring in 2017, like Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, saw their offenses sputter on in Week #1. Wilson was pressured on over 75 percent of his drop-backs and the “Hawks offense totaled just six points against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday afternoon. The primary reason for the lack of yards gained and points scored for Wilson and his teammates is because the Seahawks have holes and technical issues among their offensive line player personnel.
The offensively challenged Houston Texans, under the leadership of signal caller Tom Savage, were brutalized by the Jacksonville Jaguars front seven in Houston on Sunday.
The reason for the unsightly number of Houston quarterback take-downs last weekend?
The Texans lack of depth on the offensive line.
The best O-lineman on the Texans front five, Duane Brown, did not play in Sunday’s loss and the two top blocking tight ends for Houston left the game to head trauma.
Brown, a 32-year-old offensive tackle, didn’t reported to the team throughout training camp and preseason, and in Week #1 without Brown, the unit surrendering 10 sacks and 13 total quarterback hits. Needless to say the 29-7 loss to Jacksonville this past Sunday offered Brown all the contract negotiating leverage he every needed or believed he would have.
While most NFL pundits wholeheartedly believe that the second most important position on the National Football League field is the defensive pass rushing end. This author would argue that the offensive linemen, the unit who protect the highest paid player in the league, rate as the second most important position to fill on draft day.
In both the NFL and College Football the reliance of having a successful passing attack is what creates champions. In the 2016 NFL season quarterbacks set a record for most passes per game (36) with an average rating (QPR) of 88, second-highest in league history. This is indisputable evidence that the best teams are those that have the ability to protect the quarterback and effectively pass the football.
February’s Super Bowl representatives, the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, ranked No #1 and No #2, respectively, for passer rating during the regular season last year.
WestGate, the World’s Largest Race and Sportsbook updated their Odds to Win Super Bowl LII: