Analysis

Put It on the Line: Eagles Boast Best Offensive Line in 2023 NFL Postseason

To rank the playoff teams’ offensive line play, I watched game film with an emphasis on games that were recent and against quality opponents (other playoff teams). Minor adjustments were then made based on SIS data. All rankings assume players who are questionable will play.

>> Forde’s Defensive Line Rankings

OL Ranking

1.) Philadelphia Eagles

LT: Jordan Mailata
LG: Landon Dickerson
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Isaac Seumalo
RT: Lane Johnson

The Eagles earned a spot in the upper tier of these rankings with their effectiveness. You don’t have to tell me they have continuity within the group. It shows up on the screen, from passing off DL stunts in the passing game to combo blocks up to the second level in the run game. What puts them over the top and into the No. 1 spot, however, is their physicality. It starts with the consistent knockback they get, resetting the line of scrimmage. It commonly ends with the defender on his back. This style of play is tough to deal with for four quarters, testing both the physical and mental toughness of the opponent. 

2.) San Francisco 49ers

LT: Trent Williams
LG: Aaron Banks
C: Jake Brendel
RG: Spencer Burford
RT: Mike McGlinchey

This is an athletic group of big men who are able to get out and run, getting to and staying engaged on their blocks, whether at the line of scrimmage or into the second level of the defense. They won’t physically dominate the opponent, but they do create seams in the defense, allowing their talented ball carriers to get one-on-one opportunities with linebackers and safeties. If any position is susceptible, it’s their rotating RG spot, but they’re often able to cover it up with help from  Brendel or McGlinchey.

3.) Baltimore Ravens

LT: Ronnie Stanley
LG: Ben Powers
C: Tyler Linderbaum
RG: Kevin Zeitler
RT: Morgan Moses

The Ravens are a bit of a throwback in terms of the offensive line, as you often see small splits between maulers who get a solid push on double teams and look good coming around the horn on pulls. This style allows them to create ample room for their ball carriers to operate and make something happen. In addition, they allow plenty of time for the QB to make something happen when he drops back to pass. This is a stout group that works well together.

4.) Dallas Cowboys

LT: Tyler Smith
LG: Connor McGovern
C: Tyler Biadasz
RG: Zack Martin
RT: Tyron Smith

This is a physical bunch of players that will make sure you feel the punishment they doled out the next morning. It also doesn’t hurt when you can get in behind veterans Zack Martin and Tyron Smith on the right side of this line when you absolutely need a yard or two. They also hold up well in pass protection and aren’t phased by stunts. The group can sometimes struggle with getting to second-level blocks in the run game, which prevents them from breaking big ones with more frequency.

5.) Kansas City Chiefs

LT: Orlando Brown Jr.
LG: Joe Thuney
C: Creed Humphrey
RG: Trey Smith
RT: Andrew Wylie 

When you play with the odds-on favorite for league MVP, the priority is keeping him upright, and the Chiefs have taken huge strides in that department since their last Super Bowl appearance. This group allows Patrick Mahomes time to come up with some of the improvisations that make him so special and this team so good. While the running game certainly comes second in Kansas City, they are also capable in this aspect as well, particularly when trying to ice games.

6.) Buffalo Bills

LT: Dion Dawkins
LG: Rodger Saffold
C: Mitch Morse
RG: Ryan Bates
RT: Spencer Brown

The Bills’ OL gets a bit of a boost from the guy playing behind them, Josh Allen. I tried to keep that out of it, but it’s difficult to separate the unit from the environment it plays in, and the fact of the matter is that having No. 17’s running ability behind you makes defenses play you a little bit differently. In the passing game, they can keep him clean in part because defenders are more controlled in their rush, not wanting to abandon their rush lanes and see the QB scramble for another 15+ yards. In the run, the defense has to account for another threat, and the offense is able to gain an extra blocker. I’d like to see them be more physical in designed runs, but overall, they get the job done.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

LT: Donovan Smith
LG: Nick Leverett
C: Robert Hainsey
RG: Shaq Mason
RT: Tristan Wirfs

The Bucs are better at pass blocking than run blocking, but in their system, they use the short pass so frequently as an extension of the running game that the lack of push running the ball isn’t a major concern. It’s not an imposing group, but they were able to keep the GOAT upright and out of harm’s way, allowing the lowest pressure rate in the league while quietly throwing for nearly 4,700 yards this season.

8.) Jacksonville Jaguars

LT: Walker Little
LG: Tyler Shatley
C: Luke Fortner
RG: Brandon Scherff
RT: Jawaan Taylor

The Jags’ offensive line is a lunch pail group, clocking in, getting the job done, and clocking out. This O-line doesn’t jump out as particularly great at anything, but it is good at most things, which allows its young QB time to process and their ball carriers space to operate. They’re not world-beaters, but they also won’t get you beat in most matchups.

 

9.) Cincinnati Bengals

LT: Jonah Williams
LG: Cordell Volson
C: Ted Karras
RG: Alex Cappa
RT: Hakeem Adeniji

The Bengals completely retooled their offensive line this offseason after getting Joe Burrow rag-dolled in last year’s Super Bowl, and early returns were not promising. However, as the season has gone on, they have seemingly begun to gel and improve since around November. The biggest concern from the sample of games that I watched was that a significant portion of the pressure Burrow was still getting was coming from his blind side, which has the potential to be much more devastating.

10.) Seattle Seahawks

LT: Charles Cross
LG: Damien Lewis
C: Austin Blythe
RG: Gabe Jackson
RT: Abraham Lucas

The Seahawks have a couple of young, promising rookie tackles who haven’t looked like rookies for the better part of the year. That said, they are not without their rookie moments. In particular, RT Abraham Lucas seems to lose focus from time to time and can be picked on by a rusher with speed and bend. In the run game, the group has some nastiness to it, but they aren’t effective enough at getting push on a regular basis. I expect them to be moving up these rankings in the coming years, but for the 2022 playoffs, there is still too much green behind the ears to move them any higher.

11.) Minnesota Vikings

LT: Christian Darrisaw
LG: Ezra Cleveland
C: Garrett Bradbury
RG: Ed Ingram
RT: Olisaemeka Udoh

Christian Darrisaw has come into his own in his second season and brings some aggression to the group. The weak link shows up in this group between the C and the RG, as both struggle generating a push when running and struggle to keep the QB clean when passing. This is the kind of wart that will get exposed at some point in the playoffs. On the flip side, this group does have some athleticism and is better than average at getting out in front on screen plays.

12.) Miami Dolphins

LT: Terron Armstead
LG: Liam Eichenberg
C: Connor Williams
RG: Robert Hunt
RT: Brandon Shell

Free agent acquisition Terron Armstead is solid, however, the unit as whole leaves some to be desired. In the passing game, RG Robert Hunt gets caught playing a bit top-heavy, allowing defenders to get him off-balance and past him. In the run game, this unit is a bit of feast or famine, either hitting the big gainer or not getting much at all.

13.) New York Giants

LT: Andrew Thomas
LG: Nick Gates
C: Jon Feliciano
RG: Mark Glowinski
RT: Evan Neal

The quickest path to the quarterback is through the interior, and that is where the Giants struggle the most in pass protection. Blitz pickup is also an area of concern for the entire group. While their OT positions are more solid, they do struggle with consistency. All of this leads to a good team, like the ones you tend to see in the playoffs, throwing a monkey wrench into your game plan with pressure. 

14.) Los Angeles Chargers

LT: Jamaree Salyer
LG: Matt Feiler
C: Corey Linsley
RG: Zion Johnson
RT: Trey Pipkins

Missing Rashawn Slater, this group lacks a bit of identity. They’re leaky in pass protection and struggle to generate push for inside runs. If anything can be said to be a strength it’d be perimeter runs, as they’re able to get the edge for speedy RB Austin Ekeler. This unit needs to show marked improvement if the Chargers hope to make a postseason run.

 

What to Watch for Wild Card Weekend

Seahawks at 49ers

Advantage: 49ers 

Both of the 49ers’ units are among the best in the playoffs this year, while Seattle has outdone expectations in what many expected to be a rebuilding year. 

Something to watch for: I expect the 49ers will prefer to get Nick Bosa over Abraham Lucas or have him stunting inside against an OG in high-leverage passing situations. 

Chargers at Jaguars

Advantage: Jaguars

The Chargers have dealt with a lot of injuries this year, and Doug Pederson has his team playing inspired football as of late. In particular, I see a significant mismatch favoring the Jags when Los Angeles has the ball.

Something to watch for: Look out for the Chargers’ sub package in 3rd and long situations. They haven’t had all their best pass rushers healthy at the same time most of the season, and I suspect they might have some good stunts set up to help Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, Kyle Van Noy, and Morgan Fox hit home.

Dolphins at Bills

Advantage: Bills

The Dolphins just don’t have the horses in the trenches to deal with Buffalo right now.

Something to watch for: Miami to use the quick game as a way to neutralize Buffalo’s DL. Their skill position players have the skill sets to turn these into big plays, and it has the added effect of keeping Buffalo’s line from getting into a rhythm.

Giants at Vikings

Advantage: Giants

The interior of the Giants’ DL matches up great against the weakness in the Vikings’ offensive interior. The Vikings’ defense probably holds the edge over the Giants’ offense too, but the margin is much closer there.

Something to watch for: Dalvin Tomlinson lining up over RG Mark Glowinski in critical situations. Tomlinson overpowered Glowinski when given the opportunity in the last matchup, and I’d expect the Vikings to look for that matchup again.

Ravens at Bengals

Advantage: Bengals

The Ravens aren’t equipped to take advantage of the Bengals’ deficiencies in pass blocking, and the Ravens’ strength in run blocking is matched by a stout Bengals run D.

Something to watch for: Ravens blitzing when they need to generate pressure and leaving Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd in man coverage.

 

Cowboys at Buccaneers

Advantage: Cowboys

They might not be the same unit they were three or four years ago, but this is still a very good Cowboys offensive line and one that’s equipped to handle the Buccaneers’ personnel. Offensively the Buccaneers may have allowed a league-low pressure rate, but you don’t go against a rusher of Micah Parsons’ caliber each week.

Something to watch for: In high-leverage short-yardage situations, expect the Cowboys to run behind their vets on the right side of the line.

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