Offensive Line of the Week: Colts drive Marlon Mack's career day
In today’s fantasy-obsessed football world, it’s easy to overlook the contributions of one position group: offensive line. Well, NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O’Hara is here to fix that. Following each batch of games, O’Hara will revisit the O-line performances of all the teams that played and ultimately select that week’s top five units, headlined by a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The rankings that you see below reflect O’Hara’s pecking order for Week 7 and Week 7 alone. This is NOT a running O-line Power Rankings for 2018. This is NOT a projection into the future. The goal of this weekly column is to answer one simple question: Which five offensive lines stood out above the rest in last week’s action?
Without further ado, the Week 7 winner is …
The Colts got off to a fast start by scoring three first-half touchdowns, which helped them achieve season highs in both points (37) and rushing yards (220) AND snap a four-game skid. Quarterback Andrew Luck threw for four touchdowns — including those three first-half scores — and was pressured three times in the win over the Bills. Luck had himself a day, but the story of this game was the dominant performance of the offensive line.
The unit helped the team amass 220 rushing yards, the most in a game by the Colts in the last 10 seasons. Playing in just his third game of the season after dealing with hamstring issues, Marlon Mack recorded the first 100-yard rushing game of his career, finishing with 126 yards and a rushing touchdown on 19 carries (he also added a receiving TD). Thanks to major help from the O-line, Indy’s running backs led the NFL with 114 yards before contact, per Pro Football Focus. What a day for this rushing attack.
Center Ryan Kelly and left guard Quenton Nelson put on a combo-blocking clinic, as time and time again, they got hip-to-hip and finished their blocks. Right guard Mark Glowinski had his best game of the season, while left tackle Anthony Castonzo gave up just two pressures in a solid effort. Primarily a guard, Braden Smith also did a good job sliding out to right tackle. For their performance, the Colts were named the second-best run-blocking unit and the third-best pass-blocking unit of Week 7 by PFF.
The rest of the top O-lines from Week 7
Denver Broncos: In a beatdown of the Cardinals on "Thursday Night Football," the Broncos had a 45-point explosion thanks, in part, to some defensive scores. A 35-point lead at halftime allowed Denver to lean on the rookie running back duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. Denver amassed 131 rushing yards, led by Lindsay’s 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line was PFF’s fifth-best run-blocking unit and fourth-best pass-blocking unit of Week 7. After Ron Leary went on IR last week with a torn Achilles, Max Garcia replaced him and was stout in the run game. Tackles Garett Bolles and Billy Turner didn’t allow a single pressure in the game, and Matt Paradis continues to be one of the most consistent centers in the league.
Detroit Lions: The Lions scored a touchdown on their opening drive for the first time in their last 14 games. That helped them defeat the Dolphins and pick up their third win in four games. Detroit had 457 yards of total offense (209 passing, 248 rushing) and held the ball for seven more minutes than Miami, and its whopping 248 rushing yards were the most Detroit has had in a game since 1997, when Barry Sanders ran the rock. Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson continued to roll Sunday with 19 carries for 158 rushing yards (leading the league in Week 7), aided by a 71-yard run in the second quarter.
Tackles Taylor Decker and Rick Wagner did a good job in pass protection, as each gave up one pressure. The interior offensive line, featuring left guard Frank Ragnow, center Graham Glasgow and right guard T.J. Lang, was phenomenal and didn’t allow a single pressure. Two total pressures is the least amount allowed in a game by the Lions’ front this season.
New England Patriots: The Patriots got their first road win of the season, improving to 5-2 at the top of the AFC East. While they were outgained by the Bears, the Patriots were aided by a pair of special teams touchdowns. They managed 108 rushing yards mostly without rookie Sony Michel, who exited in the second quarter. But more importantly, the offensive line wasn’t credited with a sack or quarterback hit, keeping 41-year-old Tom Brady clean all game. Tackles Trent Brown and LaAdrian Waddle, who started in place of Marcus Cannon on the right side, each allowed a pressure. Right guard Shaq Mason didn’t give up a sack or quarterback hit for the third straight game, helping the Patriots become PFF’s second-best pass-blocking unit of the week. This is pretty remarkable against a Bears’ pass rush that features Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Roquan Smith and Leonard Floyd.
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New Orleans Saints: The Saints escaped Baltimore with a win, thanks to a missed extra point by Justin Tucker, his first miss in 223 tries. (That’s going to sting for a while.) New Orleans withstood the NFL’s top-ranked defense and amassed 339 total yards (205 passing, 134 rushing). For the most part, Drew Brees was kept upright against a blitz-happy defensive line, as the Saints’ O-line wasn’t credited with a sack but did allow a quarterback hit and three total pressures, per PFF. That’s a solid outing, considering the Ravens blitzed on 56.7 percent of dropbacks, the highest blitz rate of any defense in a game this season, according to Next Gen Stats.
Saints tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk didn’t give up a single pressure in pass protection and were excellent in the run game, while the interior struggled with the movement of the Ravens’ D-line. Already down Andrus Peat, the Saints’ O-line depth was again tested when left guard Josh LeRibeus went down with an ankle injury. Cameron Tom filled in for LeRibeus and was solid.
Follow Shaun O’Hara on Twitter @ShaunOHara60.
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