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Old 05-16-2008   #1
Phil03
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Default Offensive Line

I'm currently working on a new fantasy football website and looking to write an offensive line analysis for every NFL team. I'm looking for information on the Texans offensive line such as the :
-Projected 2008 starters
-Little blurb on each starter and the top backups (better at pass or run blocking, strong, agile, good or bad 2007 season)
-Best guys on the line
-Weak links on the line (if any)
-Why could the line be better in 2008?
-Why could the line be worse in 2008?

I'm basically looking for any information and would really appreciate if you could help me out.

Thanks very much,
Phil
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Old 05-16-2008   #2
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Default Re: Offensive Line

I found most of the information I needed looking around the board in older threads so here's the article I wrote for those interested. Feel free to post any comments or suggestions.

2008 Projected Starters:
Left Tackle: Ephraim Salaam / Duane Brown
Left Guard: Chester Pitts
Center: Chris Myers
Right Guard: Mike Brisiel / Fred Weary / Charles Spencer
Right Tackle: Eric Winston

2007 Injuries:
C Steve McKinney: Weeks 4 to 17
G Fred Weary: Weeks 14 to 17

Overview:
The Houston Texans had their best season in franchise history last season with eight wins, their first season without David Carr. Matt Schaub came in from Atlanta and did a very good job and the offense ranked in the top half of the league in yards and in points for the first time ever. The offensive line had a lot to do with it as the number of sacks allowed dropped from 43 to only 22 but the running game stayed slightly below league average at 3.8 yards per carry.

The battle for the left tackle position will probably be the most interesting in camp between the soon to be 32 year old Ephraim Salaam and the 2008 first round pick Duane Brown. Salaam has been the starter for the Texans for the past two seasons since being acquired as a free agent from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Salaam did an adequate job last season but at 32 years old he is starting to lose some mobility and will get beat to the outside by quick defensive ends. He did not give up many sacks but had many holding penalties and false starts called against him because his feet were not quick enough. Salaam is still capable of playing in the NFL but does not have the physical abilities to play all 16 games. He will likely be used to ease first round pick Duane Brown into action this season. Brown has good size at 6’4” and 315 lbs and is quite athletic with quick feet. He has the ability to play both left and right tackle but is a better fit on the left side because of his pass protecting skills. He still needs to gain some strength and become more physical in order to be an effective run blocker in the NFL. Just like most 22 year old linemen, he still has to improve his technique but he has excellent work ethic and should improve very quickly. Starting at right tackle is the 2006 third round pick Eric Winston who started all 16 games last season and was by far the best lineman on the team. Winston was recruited as a tight end in college and moved to offensive tackle in his sophomore season but suffered a torn ACL as a junior and was not the same player when he came back the following year. Winston had the potential to be a top ten prospect before his injury but dropped to the third round and has now regained the strength he had before the injury. He is a very physical and smart blocker who will occasionally get beat to the outside because of his slower feet. He is very intense and a perfect fit for the right tackle position in the NFL because of his very good run blocking abilities and above average pass protecting skills.

Starting at left guard will be former second round pick Chester Pitts who has not missed a start since being drafted in 2002. Pitts was originally drafted as a tackle and played his first two seasons at left tackle but was moved inside for the 2004 season where he is a better fit. Pitts took awhile to adjust to the much more physical guard position but he seems to have improved over the last few seasons. He will occasionally make mental mistakes in pass protection but his strength allows him to open up some holes in the running game. Pitts has been with the team for a long time and although he has never been good enough to improve the whole line, he was never the problem. He still has a few years left in him and will improve if he is surrounded by better players. On the other side of the line will be a fierce competition between the 30 year old Fred Weary, the 2006 undrafted free agent Mike Brisiel and former tackle Charles Spencer. Weary has had a lot of injury problems and has never started more than 12 games in a season since bring drafted in 2002. Last season he started the first 12 games of the season and then suffered a leg injury and was replaced by Brisiel for the final four games. Weary is good in pass protection and will take very few penalties but he does not have the strength to create a push in the running game which this line desperately needs. In the final four games of the season the Texans averaged 4.2 yards per carry as opposed to 3.7 in the first 12 and allowed only four sacks with Brisiel at right guard. Brisiel is a better run blocker but both remain average at best and could be upgraded in the near future. If healthy, at 6'4" and 340 lbs, Charles Spencer is probably the best candidate for the starting job at right guard. Spencer was third round pick in 2006 but suffered a severe leg injury in his second NFL game and has not played since then. Spencer was drafted to play at left tackle but his size and strength would be a perfect fit for the guard position and would help the line open holes in the running game. Spencer was cleared to return to practice but it is uncertain at this point if he’ll be able to return to the level of play he was at two years ago.

Starting at center for the Texans will be the 26 year old Chris Myers who was acquired from the Denver Broncos in a trade this off-season. Myers played five games at guard last season for the Broncos and then moved to center for the rest of the season when Tom Nalen went down with an injury. The Denver line struggled with Myers in the lineup but it was not an easy task for him to replace a five time Pro Bowler in the middle of the season. He is a good fit for the Houston zone blocking scheme and should continue to improve as he gains experience. He is an average center at best but he is an upgrade over McKinney and Flanagan who struggled to create anything in the running game last year. The 25 year old Greg Eslinger who has spent the last two seasons on different practice squads will likely be on the roster this year and provide depth at center. He is small for the NFL and likely to get overpowered in the NFL but he is a very hard worker who should improve and will be an asset on special teams.

2008 Outlook:
The Texans offensive line will have quite a few interesting battles in training camp. The left tackle position should be upgraded with first round pick Duane Brown and even if he does not start, the added competition should push Salaam to perform better. Both guard positions should stay the same as last year but the running game would see a big upgrade if Spencer is fully healthy. The biggest upgrade should be at center with Chris Myers who was not great with Denver but will create some consistency at the position this season. This line also has some good depth and should be able to deal with injuries to any of its linemen other than Eric Winston. The biggest change for this line this season will be the zone blocking scheme that new assistant head coach Alex Gibbs will install. Gibbs has previously held the same position with the Denver Broncos from 1995 to 2003 and with the Atlanta Falcons from 2004 to 2006. Gibbs created a dominant running game with both of those teams and should finally be able to allow the Texans to run the ball even with smaller linemen who are not particularly strong. Overall the line remains much better in pass protection but with added competition and the upgrade at center, the line can only improve this season.

Thanks
Phil
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Last edited by Phil03; 05-17-2008 at 11:28 AM.
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Old 05-16-2008   #3
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Default Re: Offensive Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil03 View Post
I found most of the information I needed looking around the board in older threads so here's the article I wrote for those interested. Feel free to post any comments or suggestions.

2008 Projected Starters:
Left Tackle: Ephraim Salaam / Duane Brown
Left Guard: Chester Pitts / Chris Spencer
Center: Chris Myers
Right Guard: Mike Brisiel / Fred Weary
Right Tackle: Eric Winston
That would be Charles Spencer
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Old 05-16-2008   #4
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Default Re: Offensive Line

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Originally Posted by corrosion View Post
That would be Charles Spencer
Oops, called him Charles in the rest of my article, thanks for spotting.
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Old 05-16-2008   #5
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Default Re: Offensive Line

i think its a little harsh on chester but fair overall
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Old 05-16-2008   #6
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Default Re: Offensive Line

I think you've hit the high points pretty well.

I'm not sure if Eslinger is going to be the backup C or if it's going to be Chris White. I'm not sure how White projects to a zone blocking scheme but he was our backup last year and even went in at Guard until he was injured.

We've got several young guards that are going to be pushing for a spot. You mentioned Brisiel and Spencer but there's also Kasey Studdard and Brandon Frye. Kasey Studdard got a chance to play last year and didn't step up; I believe he may have been injured. Brandon Frye is listed as a tackle but Kubiak has said that Frye was drafted to be a guard. Frye was injured in training camp last year and IR'd. He's athletic and could be a good fit for the ZBS. They liked Scott Jackson last year in training camp but he's unlikely to make the team.

At tackle, you missed Jordan Black... and for good reason. I doubt he's on the opening day roster. But Rashard Butler was our backup tackle all of last year. I don't know how good or bad he is because he wasn't with us during training camp last year. I don't think he should be totally ignored but he could be the odd man out. But, if Brown looks really good and Butler plays well, Salaam could be the odd man out because of his age.
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Old 05-16-2008   #7
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Default Re: Offensive Line

Pretty fair. You might want to mention the addition of ZBS "guru" Alex Gibbs, with the Texans changing from a ZBS/power hybrid to probably exclusive ZBS this year, two reasons to think the o-line will be more effective in the run game. The Texans ran more zone in the last two games of the season.

Weary wasn't really injured until last season, he just wasn't used by the previous coaching regime.
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Old 05-16-2008   #8
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Default Re: Offensive Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil03 View Post
2007 Statistics:
LEFT END LEFT TACKLE MID/GUARD RIGHT TACKLE RIGHT END Passing
ALY Rank ALY Rank ALY Rank ALY Rank ALY Rank Sacks Rank
4.92 4 4.35 15 4.21 13 4.67 5 4.1 15 22 6
ALY (Adjusted Line Yards): It is an alternate measure for yards per carry developed by Football Outsiders that takes into account various factors including down, distance, situation and opponent.
Source: www.footballoutsiders.com

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Wouldnt this make Salaam our best run blocker?
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Old 05-16-2008   #9
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Default Re: Offensive Line

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Originally Posted by kravix View Post
Wouldnt this make Salaam our best run blocker?
It could but a lot of times on those end rushes his job is only to seal the end and a guard or the center pulls outside to block so it's a little hard to say.
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Old 05-16-2008   #10
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Default Re: Offensive Line

How can you do a write up about the Texans upcoming O-line and not talk about the addition of Alex Gibbs or the new blocking scheme will be running?
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Old 05-16-2008   #11
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Default Re: Offensive Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polo View Post
How can you do a write up about the Texans upcoming O-line and not talk about the addition of Alex Gibbs or the new blocking scheme will be running?
Oh come on now, Polo. He asked for advice in his initial post and noone helped him as far as I can see. Insight started coming in after the article was written. I'm sure he'll maybe take in everyone's insight and possibly add it into the article. Maybe not.

Personally, I loved the writeup. The noob took the time to analyze the line and I'm certainly appreciative of it. Sure, he's missing a few things such as Gibbs and the scheme as you implied but that's a heckuva article he wrote there. A lot better than the one you wrote... oh wait...

Quit being so harsh on newbies who at least make an effort.

Good job, Phil. Rep your way.
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Old 05-17-2008   #12
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Default Re: Offensive Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by Polo View Post
How can you do a write up about the Texans upcoming O-line and not talk about the addition of Alex Gibbs or the new blocking scheme will be running?
I meant to add it but I got this mental template I follow for most teams and forgot to throw it in there. I'll edit my article tomorrow but writing articles about 32 offensive lines, 31 of which I don't see more than twice a year or follow that much in the off-season isn't easy and I do forget a thing or two

Thanks for pointing it out though
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Old 05-17-2008   #13
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Default Re: Offensive Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil03 View Post
I found most of the information I needed looking around the board in older threads so here's the article I wrote for those interested. Feel free to post any comments or suggestions.

2008 Projected Starters:
Left Tackle: Ephraim Salaam / Duane Brown
Left Guard: Chester Pitts / Charles Spencer
Center: Chris Myers
Right Guard: Mike Brisiel / Fred Weary
Right Tackle: Eric Winston

2007 Injuries:
C Steve McKinney: Weeks 4 to 17
G Fred Weary: Weeks 14 to 17

2007 Statistics:
LEFT END LEFT TACKLE MID/GUARD RIGHT TACKLE RIGHT END Passing
ALY Rank ALY Rank ALY Rank ALY Rank ALY Rank Sacks Rank
4.92 4 4.35 15 4.21 13 4.67 5 4.1 15 22 6
ALY (Adjusted Line Yards): It is an alternate measure for yards per carry developed by Football Outsiders that takes into account various factors including down, distance, situation and opponent.
Source: www.footballoutsiders.com

Overview:
The Houston Texans had their best season in franchise history last season with eight wins, their first season without David Carr. Matt Schaub came in from Atlanta and did a very good job and the offense ranked in the top half of the league in yards and in points for the first time ever. The offensive line had a lot to do with it as the number of sacks allowed dropped from 43 to only 22 but the running game stayed slightly below league average at 3.8 yards per carry.

The battle for the left tackle position will probably be the most interesting in camp between the soon to be 32 year old Ephraim Salaam and the 2008 first round pick Duane Brown. Salaam has been the starter for the Texans for the past two seasons since being acquired as a free agent from the Jacksonville Jaguars. Salaam did an adequate job last season but at 32 years old he is starting to lose some mobility and will get beat to the outside by quick defensive ends. He did not give up many sacks but had many holding penalties and false starts called against him because his feet were not quick enough. Salaam is still capable of playing in the NFL but does not have the physical abilities to play all 16 games. He will likely be used to ease first round pick Duane Brown into action this season. Brown has good size at 6’4” and 315 lbs and is quite athletic with quick feet. He has the ability to play both left and right tackle but is a better fit on the left side because of his pass protecting skills. He still needs to gain some strength and become more physical in order to be an effective run blocker in the NFL. Just like most 22 year old linemen, he still has to improve his technique but he has excellent work ethic and should improve very quickly. Starting at right tackle is the 2006 third round pick Eric Winston who started all 16 games last season and was by far the best lineman on the team. Winston was recruited as a tight end in college and moved to offensive tackle in his sophomore season but suffered a torn ACL as a junior and was not the same player when he came back the following year. Winston had the potential to be a top ten prospect before his injury but dropped to the third round and has now regained the strength he had before the injury. He is a very physical and smart blocker who will occasionally get beat to the outside because of his slower feet. He is very intense and a perfect fit for the right tackle position in the NFL because of his very good run blocking abilities and above average pass protecting skills.

Starting at left guard will be former second round pick Chester Pitts who has not missed a start since being drafted in 2002. Pitts was originally drafted as a tackle and played his first two seasons at left tackle but was moved inside for the 2004 season where he is a better fit. Pitts was however disappointing last season and needs to step up his game. His pass protection was below average and he is not strong enough to create a push in the running game. Pitts has been with the team for a long time and has never been particularly good. He will likely remain a below average guard for a few more years until the Texans decide to replace him but could be improved if he is surrounded by better players. There is a possibility that the 6’4” and 340 lbs Charles Spencer could be Pitts’s replacement at left guard. Spencer was third round pick in 2006 but suffered a severe leg injury in his second NFL game and has not played since then. Spencer was drafted to play at left tackle but his size and strength would be a perfect fit for the guard position and would help the line open holes in the running game. Spencer was cleared to return to practice but it is uncertain at this point if he’ll be able to return to the level of play he had two years ago. Spencer could also compete at right guard but the battle in camp will likely be between the 30 year old Fred Weary and the 2006 undrafted free agent Mike Brisiel. Weary has had a lot of injury problems and has never started more than 12 games in a season since bring drafted in 2002. Last season he started the first 12 games of the season and then suffered a leg injury and was replaced by Brisiel for the final four games. Weary is good in pass protection and will take very few penalties but he does not have the strength to create a push in the running game which this line desperately needs. In the final four games of the season the Texans averaged 4.2 yards per carry as opposed to 3.7 in the first 12 and allowed only four sacks with Brisiel at right guard. Brisiel is a better run blocker but both remain average at best and could be upgraded in the near future.

Starting at center for the Texans will be the 26 year old Chris Myers who was acquired from the Denver Broncos in a trade this off-season. Myers played five games at guard last season for the Broncos and then moved to center for the rest of the season when Tom Nalen went down with an injury. The Denver line struggled with Myers in the lineup but it was not an easy task for him to replace a five time Pro Bowler in the middle of the season. He is a good fit for the Houston zone blocking scheme and should continue to improve as he gains experience. He is an average center at best but he is an upgrade over McKinney and Flanagan who struggled to create anything in the running game last year. The 25 year old Greg Eslinger who has spent the last two seasons on different practice squads will likely be on the roster this year and provide depth at center. He is small for the NFL and likely to get overpowered in the NFL but he is a very hard worker who should improve and will be an asset on special teams.

2008 Outlook:
The Texans offensive line will have quite a few interesting battles in training camp. The left tackle position should be upgraded with first round pick Duane Brown and even if he does not start, the added competition should push Salaam to perform better. Both guard positions should stay the same as last year but the running game would see a big upgrade if Spencer is fully healthy. The biggest upgrade should be at center with Chris Myers who was not great with Denver but will create some consistency at the position this season. This line also has some good depth and should be able to deal with injuries to any of its linemen other than Eric Winston. Overall the line remains much better in pass protection but with added competition and the upgrade at center, the line can only improve this season.

Thanks
Phil
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The discussion of Chester Pitts sounds like you have been reading someone's posts who do not know what they are talking about. Pitts has traditionally been one of the more reliable and effective athletes on the line.

Other commenters are correct in saying that you can't talk about the Texans line without talking about Alex Gibbs and the switch to more of a ZBS of the Denver style.

I'm not sure that Myers is an upgrade. He is a question mark.
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Old 05-17-2008   #14
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Default Re: Offensive Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texans_Chick View Post
The discussion of Chester Pitts sounds like you have been reading someone's posts who do not know what they are talking about. Pitts has traditionally been one of the more reliable and effective athletes on the line.
I agree with this also. Since day one, Pitts has been consistantly good with some bad moments...but overall he isn't even close to 'the problem' on the line. He is a big strong player with great feet. He is strong enough for the run game....his problem has been in the mental breakdowns during pass protection and has taken a while getting used to the hand fighting inside at Guard. He was always a Tackle till his second season here and while he hasn't proven to be an elite Guard he plays well most of the time...well enough to say he does a good job on balance.
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Old 05-17-2008   #15
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Default Re: Offensive Line

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I agree with this also. Since day one, Pitts has been consistantly good with some bad moments...but overall he isn't even close to 'the problem' on the line. He is a big strong player with great feet. He is strong enough for the run game....his problem has been in the mental breakdowns during pass protection and has taken a while getting used to the hand fighting inside at Guard. He was always a Tackle till his second season here and while he hasn't proven to be an elite Guard he plays well most of the time...well enough to say he does a good job on balance.
Alright thanks guys, will make adjustments
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Old 05-17-2008   #16
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Default Re: Offensive Line

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Alright thanks guys, will make adjustments
Good luck and you get my respect for coming in and doing some homework and listening to the fans....I'm sure you pump out good work.
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Old 05-17-2008   #17
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Default Re: Offensive Line

made the changes to the article above.

Thanks very much everyone for the comments, made the article a lot better and more accurate. I checked out Gibbs with Denver and Atlanta and his impact on both of those teams when he got there and when he left was about 0.5 YPC, maybe a little more.
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Old 05-17-2008   #18
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Thanks for pointing it out though
Quote:
Originally Posted by NitroHonda View Post
Quit being so harsh on newbies who at least make an effort.
Wasn't be hard on you...

Just pointing out that the Alex Gibbs hire is probably THE biggest addition to our offense in general; specifically the O-line...

Not including him in the write-up is selling everyone short, especially you--the writer. Was just trying to help you make a more complete write-up, not pointing out errors...apologies if it came out that way.
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Old 05-19-2008   #19
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Default Re: Offensive Line

I think you might want to do a little more research on Duane Brown. From everything I have read you have his skill set entirely backwards. He is supposed to be very quick and athletic and, thus, very effective run blocking, especially in the zone scheme. His athleticism allows him to make his block and get into the second level. But, he supposedly has a long way to go in pass protection. His technique is very raw and he gets beat a lot in pass pro.

You might want to look into that more because what you have written is opposite of everything I have read on him.
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Old 05-19-2008   #20
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Default Re: Offensive Line

there was a video analysis of Brown that says he has a hard time with the run blocking and gets confused by stunts. I don't know where that source got it's information but that analysis is out there. I'm sure it's all relative to the blocking scheme though.

Thats the beauty of the ZBS, you're always looking for a different skill set for that scheme so you can pick guys that other more traditional blocking schemes will pass up or regard as week points in a players skill set. It helps to have THE GURU hand picking these guys as well!
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