Maybe the Houston Texans offensive line is not as bad as everyone thinks it is. The numbers from 2016 tell a different story than what most have said about the group heading into 2017.
Heading into training camp, much of the discussion will be focused on the offensive line and how they will handle the new season. Now, if you have been paying attention to the offensive line discussion since the end of the 2016 season, most would say that this Houston Texans unit is near the bottom of the NFL.
The offensive line was mainly comprised of Duane Brown, Xavier Su’a-Filo, Greg Mancz, Jeff Allen and Chris Clark. Kendall Lamm The injured Derek Newton and now departed Oday Aboushi also played parts in the line production. Much was said of their play as a unit and of the individual performances of particular players, which was not always glowing.
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Closer Look at the Offensive Line
In 2016, the Texans offensive line gave up 32 sacks on the season, ranking them tied for 11th in the NFL. Their 97 quarterback hits allowed ranked them 22nd in the NFL.
A look at the running game showed a little more substance on how the line is not as bad as many seem to think.
The Texans rushed for 1,859 yards last season, which ranked them 8th in the NFL, and their 4.1 yards a carry had them in the middle of the pack tied for 18th.
This graphic was shown by Jeff Ratcliffe of Sirius XM Radio and CBS SportsNet. The graphic shows yards before contact per attempt by each offensive line during the 2016 season.
This graphic is pretty eye opening for quite a few reasons. The Texans were ranked 6th in the NFL on yards before the running back ran into contact with 2.01 yards.
To the left behind Brown and Su’a-Filo, the Texans has 2.21 yards before contact, ranking them 7th in the NFL.
To the center behind Mancz and either Su’a-Filo, Aboushi, or Allen, the Texans ranked 9th in the NFL with 1.83 yards.
To the right behind the Allen, Aboushi, Newton, and Clark combination, the rushing game ranked 8th in the NFL with 2.02 yards.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
With those stats, it is pretty clear that the Texans are above average in opening up holes and getting running backs to where they need to be, leading to the question of why is there not more production from the running game?
It could be a missed block on the second level from a lineman or another skill player, or a running back not creating or breaking tackles from defenders. The proof is in the numbers, especially against the league average. that the offensive line’s performance might not be as bad as some feel this unit is outside of Houston.
There is improvement needed still, but the offensive line might not be too far from being a top five or top ten unit in the NFL if they can improve on their numbers from 2016.
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