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The Future of the Offensive Line
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Texas_OutLaw7


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:50 pm    Post subject: The Future of the Offensive Line Reply with quote

Editors Note - If you think this is somehow an indictment on the current administration, or just need a place to vent your frustrations about the inability to attract someone for some midnight exploration, please - look to the thousand and one other threads you can foam at the mouth over.

Has the all Offensive Line fallen behind the rest of NFL's positions and do we now need to see a shift from everything we used to know about OLines?

I should preface this all by saying I like having big OLins that will just out muscle you. Think 90's. As someone who played on both sides of the line, there was something so exhilarating about physically demolishing your opponent. The Tackles started becoming those fancy guys who were shifty - but the interior trenches were still BAMF.

Is it time to change that theory? Not just change it - but blow it up?

We have seen a rise in the success of dominant pass-rushing DL. The Melton's, the Geno Atkins of the world are starting to change popular thought. DL are no longer Tubbies fighting other Tubbies and stopping the run. They are physical specimen. And they get the advantage of moving around to create more avenues. So, then, should we consider see a shift in OL and getting thinner, more athletic OL?

Nicks this year has be decent but not the dominant guard he has been. Just last week Grubs got tossed around like a red-headed-step-child. Yanda got abused by a rookie.

Have dominant Interior Linemen not kept up physically with the new wave of DL? Refer to pictures below:











Versus










Of course, this kind of blows up my theory:



But I guess what my point - or thought rather - is that we know the NFL goes in cycles. And we are now in a heavy passing league. As a result pass-rushers have become a premium - what then becomes the best way to restrict these beasts?
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Desperado82


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lighter, quicker, stronger offensive lineman. Laughing

Garrett is trying to get those types of players in here. Look at Smith, Kowalski and Arkin. I suppose Livings could be used as an example as well.
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Texas_OutLaw7


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Desperado82 wrote:
Lighter, quicker, stronger offensive lineman. Laughing

Garrett is trying to get those types of players in here. Look at Smith, Kowalski and Arkin. I suppose Livings could be used as an example as well.


Is that good for the NFL as a brand though? And is that the right direction for any given team?
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Desperado82


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Texas_OutLaw7 wrote:
Desperado82 wrote:
Lighter, quicker, stronger offensive lineman. Laughing

Garrett is trying to get those types of players in here. Look at Smith, Kowalski and Arkin. I suppose Livings could be used as an example as well.


Is that good for the NFL as a brand though? And is that the right direction for any given team?


You almost have to if you expect to compete with a more physical, agile defensive lineman.
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buckwild


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Desperado82 wrote:
Lighter, quicker, stronger offensive lineman. Laughing

Garrett is trying to get those types of players in here. Look at Smith, Kowalski and Arkin. I suppose Livings could be used as an example as well.


So can we officially rule Arkin a bust considering he has been through a whole off season program, and the GM thought so much of him he signed 2 OG in the off-season. Not to mention that in training camp with all the injuries they signed a OG off the street rather than giving Arkin a shot.
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Desperado82


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

buckwild wrote:
Desperado82 wrote:
Lighter, quicker, stronger offensive lineman. Laughing

Garrett is trying to get those types of players in here. Look at Smith, Kowalski and Arkin. I suppose Livings could be used as an example as well.


So can we officially rule Arkin a bust considering he has been through a whole off season program, and the GM thought so much of him he signed 2 OG in the off-season. Not to mention that in training camp with all the injuries they signed a OG off the street rather than giving Arkin a shot.


Eh?

Arkin started the majority of the pre-season at center, a position he had never played before in his life, and did fairly well. He showed progression.

The staff doesn't feel he's ready yet, however, to start during the regular season. I would not rule him a bust because of that. If anything, this extra time to learn and grow both physically and mentally is only going to help him come next year.
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TheStarStillShines


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Desperado82 wrote:
Texas_OutLaw7 wrote:
Desperado82 wrote:
Lighter, quicker, stronger offensive lineman. Laughing

Garrett is trying to get those types of players in here. Look at Smith, Kowalski and Arkin. I suppose Livings could be used as an example as well.


Is that good for the NFL as a brand though? And is that the right direction for any given team?


You almost have to if you expect to compete with a more physical, agile defensive lineman.


Too bad the playcalling, especially the running game, doesn't reflect the actual strengths of the OL. The Boys' OL is pretty athletic, but Garrett still asks them to play like this was the Boys' OL of the 1990s.
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Desperado82


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheStarStillShines wrote:
Too bad the playcalling, especially the running game, doesn't reflect the actual strengths of the OL. The Boys' OL is pretty athletic, but Garrett still asks them to play like this was the Boys' OL of the 1990s.


As T_O has pointed out many times, this is why the team needs to start the game out passing and going for the big plays, and utilize the no huddle offense.

We have a quick, agile offensive line. They aren't maulers. So open up the passing game. Of course, this requires the receivers to actually catch the football. If they can do that, and we can drive down the field and tire an opposing defense, it would allow us to run the ball and let the offense control the tempo of the game.
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TheStarStillShines


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Desperado82 wrote:
TheStarStillShines wrote:
Too bad the playcalling, especially the running game, doesn't reflect the actual strengths of the OL. The Boys' OL is pretty athletic, but Garrett still asks them to play like this was the Boys' OL of the 1990s.


As T_O has pointed out many times, this is why the team needs to start the game out passing and going for the big plays, and utilize the no huddle offense.

We have a quick, agile offensive line. They aren't maulers. So open up the passing game. Of course, this requires the receivers to actually catch the football. If they can do that, and we can drive down the field and tire an opposing defense, it would allow us to run the ball and let the offense control the tempo of the game.


My point is that the running game is still utilizes one-on-one blocking and a lot of runs between the tackles. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, get the OL in space and use their athleticism to their advantage. Run more stretch plays, sweeps, etc. Call a between-the-tackles run once in a while to keep the defence honest.

However, Garrett constantly calls runs between the tackles or an off-tackle run that requires the OL to hold the point of attack. They've shown time and time again that they can't do this.
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GeneralDissaray


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isn't the counter to those athletic DL, pounding the ball up the middle. Let's examine our own DL. Our run D is absolutely more stout with Brent and Lissemore rotating at DT. While Ratliff is more athletic, and a gap shooter, to me he is tailored for passing downs. I just think it depends upon your offense philosophy, and being committed to it. If you are Green Bay, and could give a crap about the run, then yes go get more 'wirey' Olineman. If you want to be around 50-50 pass/run, and do a lot of play action, get some beasts in the middle. I will concede that the offensive tackles must be very athletic.
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Texas_OutLaw7


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheStarStillShines wrote:
Desperado82 wrote:
TheStarStillShines wrote:
Too bad the playcalling, especially the running game, doesn't reflect the actual strengths of the OL. The Boys' OL is pretty athletic, but Garrett still asks them to play like this was the Boys' OL of the 1990s.


As T_O has pointed out many times, this is why the team needs to start the game out passing and going for the big plays, and utilize the no huddle offense.

We have a quick, agile offensive line. They aren't maulers. So open up the passing game. Of course, this requires the receivers to actually catch the football. If they can do that, and we can drive down the field and tire an opposing defense, it would allow us to run the ball and let the offense control the tempo of the game.


My point is that the running game is still utilizes one-on-one blocking and a lot of runs between the tackles. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, get the OL in space and use their athleticism to their advantage. Run more stretch plays, sweeps, etc. Call a between-the-tackles run once in a while to keep the defence honest.

However, Garrett constantly calls runs between the tackles or an off-tackle run that requires the OL to hold the point of attack. They've shown time and time again that they can't do this.


Coach Callahan was clearly brought into change the direction of the OL, which is strange since as has been discussed in other threads, we don't run plays that would appear to be more conducive to our current personnel and fit accurately with the Callahan model. I still don't think this is the right way to go, but drunken discussion of the subject is what brought this point to my attention. Maybe this is the way of the new NFL.

If this is the case, then I think we are going to see a subtle shift in who we draft in terms of OL.
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Northland


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lord knows the oline is an issue. And like TO7, I like the big mauling wear you down O line. I really don't think it matters that it is a pasing league. I think you need to identify what your philosophy, or style of offense is, and draft/acquire players to fit your style be it running or passing. I still think with proper coaching, development, and execution any style can win.

Attached is an interview with John Harbaugh where he talks about the same thing that I just mentioned - run or pass, just execute, don't turn the ball over and play solid defense. Truth be told I did not influence Harbaugh, rather I stole his philosophy in the opening of my position. I know some of you were probably ready to give me credit. Seriously his position really struck a chord with me. Play solid football, fundamentally sound, don't make mistakes and execute. Following is a passage from the interview.

JK: And you don't need a Patriots or Saints pass-crazy offence to win in the NFL today, do you? You guys have proved that.

JH: "I think we know what good football looks like. It's irrespective of how you move the ball. It pertains to good football. Good, solid, field-position football. You don't make mistakes. You play solid defence. You don't turn the ball over. You get first downs, and you control the clock.

"And you can do that any way you want. You can do it throwing, you can do it running, you can do it blitzing, you can do it playing (zone) coverage. That stuff is more relative to your personnel. "We're all for having the top offence in the league, and we're going to try to get there. But we're mostly for being the winningest team in the league."


Check it out.

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/08/19/harbaugh-reflects-on-ravens-rice-and-michigan
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Ace5


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First and foremost, any good coach is going to scheme to the strengths of his lineman. Trying to do things they're not good at is tantamount to waving the white flag of French resistance. Therefore, at the most basic level, it comes down to personnel, and any attempt to find causation in the actions of NFL coaches when it comes to scheme is, at it's core, foolish.

If, however, we take this as TO is suggesting, and look at the offensive line as an evolving position where many new things are being tried and many old philosophies are being phased out (as viewed in the long term; eg, several years), then this topic demands attention. There is no denying that the general build of NFL players is, generally speaking, getting bigger, stronger, leaner and faster. Therefore, the question becomes whether you prefer to match speed and agility on speed and agility or strength and size on speed and agility. These questions apply mostly to the running game.

If you match speed on speed, you're hoping for perfect execution, and running plays such as sweeps, traps, counters, stretches, etc. You then want agile, mobile, smaller lineman who can move in space. Also important becomes smart lineman, who understand the pacing of the play, the importance of film study to know your opponent's habits, and the exact spacing needed to allow the play to flourish. This, in today's NFL, is commonly used in the form referred to as the zone blocking scheme, and rarely has one on one blocking. Interior running is limited to draw plays and the occasional HB lead. Plays are more explosive, and lead to bigger scores, bigger gains and bigger mistakes when they do happen, but with less plays to a drive, less opportunity for mistakes to be made.

If you prefer to match strength on the speed of your new age DL, you're looking for road grader monsters. Gym rats. Players who bench press small trucks, and do so easily so they have the stamina to do it for four quarters. This results in less runs to the outside and more dives, leads, draws and seams. Rather than a 3 dimensional battle of spacing and position, you create a spartan phalanx of massive bodies, pushing forward with a stubborn runner who prefers to get in the back pocket of his lineman and push. Commonly referred to as three yards and a cloud of dust, it is an older running philosophy that relies on long, sustained drives and disciplined lineman who know the snap count and are in good enough shape to beat up an opponent and grind them to dust. You neutralize the strength of your opponent (speed and agility) by condensing the field to a small area between tackles, forcing them to punch it out with men as much as twice their size. This results in close games, and requires discipline, but will often result in late wins.

I personally prefer option two when I'm forced to choose, but again, it all depends on who you have at your line positions. If option one fits better, than do it. Truly great teams will fuse the two, and are capable of finding and drafting the rare players who are capable of fitting in both schemes. I doubt that ever changes.
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Northland


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a good topic. I think the Cowboys need to clearly identify what their offensive philosophy is and then draft/acquire players accordingly. The question I have is how much do the Cowboys value drafting OL high, particularly interior OL, and are they prepared to do this?

Generally speaking the interior OL prospect from a big time school, even one with a pro style offense is going to have some transition issues in the NFL. The kid from nowheresville state is going to have an even bigger challenge (i know there have been exceptions to this rule but I am speaking in generalities). It gets back to what premium do the Cowboys place on the interior OL? Higher picks, more of a draft focus, or free agents and lower round picks? Do we try to plug holes for a year or two, or develop some long term solutions?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I think we are witnessing, for the first time, the culmination of a new style of defense that is a direct result of teams going pass happy. It has only been 4 weeks but I have seen many teams this year, more often than not, give up close to double digit sacks in 1 game.

The rule used to be, if a team blitzes, catch them in a blitz with a delayed draw or screen pass. Well, D.C.'s have found a way to sniff them out, get to the QB and cover from their DB's.

It all starts up front and the name of the game is speed. You see, when offenses swithched to the short passing game/ RAC yards (Wes Welker), the defenses really didn't have an answer. LB's were to slow and DB's had their hands full with WR's. If you had a stout line and an accurate QB, you win that match up almost every time.
So in recent years, the teams that have moved to drafting speedy and big D linemen are flourishing now. (NYG won 2 superbowls with this) And when I say speedy, I mean they can run down a WR or RB from 10 yards up the field. These guys are FAST!

It is now up to the O.C.'s to figure out what type of player they need to draft to combat this approach. Strength and Size does not matter anymore if the O lineman cannot catch his opponent.

I have never seen D linemen this fast or this successful in the past and on so many teams. We are seeing and aberration, the culmination of a new breed of defensive athletes.

This is why Dallas, in my opinion, continues to suffer as a mediocre team. They are way behind in the direction NFL teams are going. J.J. has built from the outside in, ignoring what has become the foundation of the new league. He spent all of his money on DB's and how many INT's do they have this year? Z-E-R-O! A big fat goose egg!
Why? Because our D line (which has been ignored since we drafted Russell Maryland in 1990 or 91-I forget) just dosent have that type of personel to do the job.

In short, whatever they decide to do with the O line, they better do it right. Anymore of this "old School" mentality and this team will fall from mediocrity to abysmal, if they havent already.

Again, just my opinion.
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