With the 2018-19 NFL season just around the corner a lot of changes are being made within the team rosters and their offensive and defensive schemes. The biggest question for many coaches at this time is, ‘what needs to change to be a playoff team?’ Many sports writers and fans tend to focus on Quarterbacks, Half-Backs, and Wide-outs. Though I pose a different view: A crucial part of a playoff team is a dominant offensive line. First we need to look at what makes a dominant offensive line.
Time as a Unit, the longer a unit is together the more dominant they will become. They understand the blocking schemes as a whole instead of just position wise. They also understand each others blocking tendencies. On pass protection for example the right guard understands how much depth the tackle and center will get, and is able to adjust accordingly. The Patriots, for example had a veteran unit last year, with Nate Solder being traded during the offseason, along with having an offensive line coach who has been with the team since 1982. With Nate Solder being gone, the Patriots will have to bring a new tackle into the unit, which will leave a sore spot on Brady’s blindside.
Blocking schemes, in the current state of the NFL teams elect to pass more often than running the ball, unless they have a stud running like Le’veon Bell and Todd Gurley. So the importance of a unit that can both run block and pass block is crucial for a team to make playoffs. Most importantly they need to be able to have top pass blockers on the outside, especially with defensive ends like JJ Watt, Joey Bosa, and DeMarcus Lawrence. Last years Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles had the perfect model for this. Going against the toughest DE and edge rushers in the league, the unit allowed 0 sacks this season, along with averaging around 5.1 yards per carry between their top 2 backs.
It’s not very hard to have a dominant offensive line, but to make it work effectively is a different story. In my opinion there are few that are capable of doing this. Coming into the 2018 season the Eagles O-line tops my list, followed by the Cowboys, Steelers, Vikings, and the Falcons. The patriots would have been higher up on my list but with the loss of veteran tackle, Nate Solder, they have a major hurdle ahead of them.