Offensive Line

Discussion in 'Texans Talk' started by Spike, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. Spike

    Spike Veteran

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    I am finding myself extremely interested in how the offensive line is going to shake out this year. Last season I felt like we saw huge improvement in the line play (due in part to the play of our QB) and after some starters went down, it was good to see that we had some young, solid depth. This off-season we bring in Gibbs (who I understand may shake-up the system a bit) and add several new players to the mix.

    Looking at our roster, I am having a really hard time predicting what the two-deep will look like at the start of the year. We are going to have a lot of competition at most of these spots and several of these guys can play in more than one spot, which makes it harder to determine which 5 will make the field. My break-down is below - what do you think?

    Center - McKinney and Meyers, both of whom can also slide over to guard, could be starters. In limited action last year, Chris White played well and he can also slide over to guard. There is also a lot of excitment over Eslinger.

    Guard - I assume both Pitts and Weary are back and assume that they will have the first opportunity to win their starting spots, but I think Brisiel will compete for one of those spots. The coaches seem to like Studdard and he may be a good fit for Gibbs style.

    Tackle - Winston is the only starting spot I would be willing to bet on and I think Rahsad Butler backs him up. If Spencer can make it back, he will battle with Salaam for the LT spot. I had heard Frye was being moved to guard - but he is listed as a tackle on the roster. He may be a better fit for tackle under Gibbs system and with the log-jam at guard, he may have a better chance making the team here.

    My best guess:
    RT - Winston, Butler
    RG - Brisiel, Studdard/ White
    C - Myers, Eslinger/ White
    LG - Pitts/ White/ Studdard
    LT - Draft Pick, Salaam OR Spencer OR
    Salaam or Spencer, Draft Pick

    This two-deep would result in the following:
    (1) McKinney's injury and age, combined with the addition of Myers and Eslinger make him expendable - which I hate because he is a great part of the franchise.
    (2) I think we draft a LT in the first or third round, which ensures a roster spot. Assuming this is the case, you have to choose between Spencer or Salaam.
    (3) Frye misses the cut. If possible, placed on PS for one additional season.
     
  2. infantrycak

    infantrycak Mod. Staff Member

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    I think we will have three new starters on the OL, at least for most of the season, with little or no competition for the returning starters--Pitts and Winston.

    RT--Winston, Butler/Salaam
    RG--Spencer, Briesel
    C--Myers, (Eslinger or White)
    LG--Pitts, Studdard
    LT--rookie, Salaam/Butler

    Black gone--creating $500k in dead money but freeing up $1.3 mil in cap space.
    Okobi and Jackson gone.
    Frye and White should be practice squad eligible.
     
  3. badboy

    badboy Site Contributor

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    I am ok with this but you did not address McKinney.
     
  4. infantrycak

    infantrycak Mod. Staff Member

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    I am not sure about McKinney at all and think there is a chance he doesn't make the team. He isn't expensive relatively speaking and they would only save about $350k in cap space (and create $2 mil in dead money) if they let him go.
     
  5. DiehardChris

    DiehardChris You betcha!

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    I hope that if McKinney can only be depth, that he'd agree to re-work his contract instead of us releasing him. He's a great locker-room guy, and a solid player when he's healthy. I don't think it's out of the question that he could win a starting job as a guard - but even if he does, I can't imagine him being healthy all season.
     
  6. infantrycak

    infantrycak Mod. Staff Member

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    His contract is basically cheap and nothing can be done to re-work the signing bonus money he has already received.

    Why?--prior to last year he hadn't missed a game in five years.
     
  7. badboy

    badboy Site Contributor

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    But does his experience push him ahead of say Butler? Steve will be 33 October; not ancient for a O lineman but his knees may give Butler the spot.
     
  8. DiehardChris

    DiehardChris You betcha!

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    Is it cheap for depth, though? I'm sure they'd rather pay that amount to a younger player who's not coming off ACL surgery... but I know they also want to avoid dead money as much as possible.

    Because he's 32, and is coming off an ACL tear (I think it was an ACL), and the new system is going to require even more physicality than was required before. I'm not saying we should cut the guy or anything.
     


  9. infantrycak

    infantrycak Mod. Staff Member

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    Butler is a T so I doubt that is the way they would analyze it.

    Eeeh, kind of neither expensive nor cheap. Like I said above--recovery, youth and suitability for Gibbs may end up with him gone.
     
  10. prostock101

    prostock101 Mr. Big

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    This is probably off thread a bit but I've always been curious about why the big push to go full tilt with the ZBS.

    Is it that much better than the GB Power Scheme? Seems like we tried it when Kub first got here and were never able to get it done and eventually had to add the GB stuff. When we did, the running game got better.

    On top of that, it requires "special guys' just to run it.

    It just seems that with quality O lineman that difficult to find in this league, is the ZBS that much better when you have to have -

    1. Special Coach to teach it.
    2. Special OL to run it.
    3. Special RB to "one cut and run"

    Seems like a lot of work when we could just knock guys on their ass and run the ball.....
     
  11. badboy

    badboy Site Contributor

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    I was thinking of Brandon Frye when I typed Butler. I see Frye with upside but some think he may not have as much as I hope for. With our injury history, I think I'd rather have McKinney's ability over Frye's youth.
     
  12. AnthonyE

    AnthonyE Lurker

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    At the time, I don't think we were using the right personel.

    Winston wasn't starting, and we were basically using the same O-Line from Dom's regime.
     
  13. Ole Miss Texan

    Ole Miss Texan Hall of Fame

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    I think you kind of get what you get when you select a Head Coach or Offensive Coordinator. I think when hiring Gary Kubiak, we new we were going towards the ZBS only at that time we didn't have the right personnel. Kind of like going to a 4-3 on Defensive. Might not have the personnel but you know what your trying to go for and it just takes time to collect enough guys to play there, then start building it with the players you really want, etc.

    I don't know if it's any much better or not. It used to be more rare and you were able to find special players later in the draft consistently. With a lot more teams going towards the ZBS, more teams are looking to draft and sign these types of Ol players, so the conventional thought of "we can get all-pros in the the 6th/7th round" may not really be the case anymore b/c more teams are trying to get them and earlier.

    Personally I like the smash mouth kind of football too. I love seeing a big ol lineman popping the DL and LB's in the mouth knocking them over, and then the big ol RB running straight through a CB.
     
  14. Polo

    Polo Guest

    I think zoneblocking makes the offenses job easier. Talent isn't as big a factor in the ZBS. Normally when a guy goes down back-ups can come in a do the job just about as adequately as the starter did because it's mostly technique and scheme.

    All in all that equals continued success.

    And you don't really need a "special" RB or a "special" OL...I think disciplined is a better word...
     
  15. Ole Miss Texan

    Ole Miss Texan Hall of Fame

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    This will really be interesting to see how the OL develops and changes, personnel-wise.

    (1) I don't see a Rookie Left Tackle coming in and really starting for us right away. Even if we get Chris Williams, I think he grows into the position and probably start during the season but I don't think we're going to find a LT in the draft to start day 1. That's just me.

    (2) It sure would make it easy if Brandon Frye or Rashard Butler become our starting LT we want. What are the thoughts on who we already have on the roster? Butler is a really interesting case with his previous illness. He's only 3 years in the league and I think the only (or biggest) reason he was released from Carolina was because of his energy/weight caused by the illness- but it sounds like he's gotten help and that's corrected? I'm not too familiar with Frye/Butler but hope the learn a lot from Gibbs and can take over the spot- that would solve a HUGE problem! It'd be cool to have: LT Butler (Miami)- C Myers (Miami)- Winston (Miami) on our line.

    (3) I wonder about Spencer's recovery (I guess everyone does) and how that's going to effect his position on the team. Does he just flat out get cut!? or move to Guard. I would hope he could move to Right Guard and be a mauler of a guard for our running game. He'd be playing beside his "hardly-identical" twin Winston. (Picks #64 and 65 in the '06 draft)

    (4) If Myers turns out to be our C of the future, I'm really not worried about our OL that much anymore. This signing/trade solves a big problem and fills a huge hole. I'm really excited the see the improvement on the Line next year and think it's just going to keep getting stronger. It's not going to take as long as I initially thought.



    Long Term-wise:
    LT-I'd love Branden Alberts to be draft pick if we stay at 18 and become our long term fixture at Left Tackle. (If Frye and Butler are deemed to be quality back ups and not franchise LT's). I see Salaam starting most of next season with Alberts playing guard but transitioning to LT when he learns it well and good which could be well over a year. If he's just too good at G to even consider moving him, then I hope Frye/Butler develop into the LT spot.
    LG- I like Chester Pitts as our left guard, he's just a solid solid player.
    C- I hope Chris Myers becomes the Center we've been looking for an nails down this spot for another 10 years.
    RG- I hope Charles Spencer comes back completely healthy and is our right guard. I'd love for him to be a dominant run blocker next to Winston and really help our running game.
    RT- Eric Winston continues to develop and is our rock solid right tackle.

    That has a dominant line in my opinion! Within 5 years- Alberts, Myers, and Winston have all been to the pro bowl.
     
  16. infantrycak

    infantrycak Mod. Staff Member

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    The Texans ran predominately ZBS the last two years under Capers. They did not however believe in cut blocking.

    Given that Kubiak has already done it once, with a 3rd rounder at that, why couldn't it happen again, especially with a 1st rounder?
     
  17. nunusguy

    nunusguy Hall of Fame

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    Couple things: Here's hoping you're right about Spencer being fit enough and recovering quickly enough to be an effective starter this year. At any position
    in the OLine. But I'm just not that optimistic. If I should, I sure want to know why 'cause like everyone else I'd love to have him back.
    I don't think they are expecting much help from Eslinger, especially with the addition of Myers who can also play guard like White & McKinney while Eslinger
    can't.
    And I'm still trying to understand how the bruising but inert Casey Studdard gets a roster spot as a member of ZB guru Alex Gibbs OLine ? Unless he also
    was babysitting Gibbs kids (make it grandkids) up in Denver ?
     
  18. Ole Miss Texan

    Ole Miss Texan Hall of Fame

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    So are you saying we had the right personnel because we already ran the ZBS? It doesn't seem the OL was all that effective and Kubiak was going to get it taken care of. I guess install more of a Denver ZBS than Houston ZBS? But he is adding and will continue to add the right players.


    Like I said, I just don't think we're going to get a Rookie LT to come in a beat out Salaam on Day 1. Not saying it CAN'T happen- I'd be very pleased if it did, because it'd be saying 'we have a better player NOW and he's young!' I think there is going to be a guy learning at first and maybe pulls a Fred Bennett on us.

    Just b/c it's happened once doesn't mean it will happen again. I sure hope it does though! (but only b/c he wins the LT job because he's great, now b/c of injury)

    Do you think we could draft a rookie in the 1st or 3rd and he come in and start right away at Left Tackle? If so who and why? I would have said the same thing about Spencer 2 years ago, though, so take it for what it's worth.
     
  19. infantrycak

    infantrycak Mod. Staff Member

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    Let me put it this way--I think the right personnel for ZBS issue gets way too generalized to smaller OLmen. The real issue is can they move in space and have good feet. Pitts and Spencer for example have very good feet for their non-"normal" ZBS size. Sure Kubiak considered improving the players on the OL a priority as shown by his first draft. At the same time, that draft illustrated my point that size is not the predominate factor some make it out to be. Anyway, the real point of my quote above was somehow folks keep forgetting that Kubiak did not install ZBS in Houston and didn't even change what Houston was doing to incorporate the Denver/Gibbs style of including cut blocking.


    1st rounder--absolutely. Look at 1st round LT's taken in the last 5 years and you'll see the majority start as rookies. 3rd rounder is obviously less likely, but Kubiak has clearly demonstrated he does not have a philosophical problem with doing so. Heck, it might be that a rookie is coming in primarily to beat out Butler instead of Salaam. Kubiak has had some pretty strong statements about him as well.
     
  20. Ole Miss Texan

    Ole Miss Texan Hall of Fame

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    I hear you on both counts. The only thing about the rookie is looking at where we currently are at or potentially could trade down to and who may be available at these spots.

    1st round: Jake Long/Ryan Clady- long gone, Jeff Otah with Gibbs?, Chris Williams- best chance but easily could be gone. I think even Mayock suggested he may need to build more strength and not start right away but grow into the role during the year. Branden Albert (great guard but probably not right away at LT?). I think Williams is the only player we have a shot at selecting in the 1st round that might be able to start Day 1- I don't know if Otah or Albert would be able to. Again specifying it only for OUR team in our CURRENT situation.

    2nd round via trade down (or late first): Sam Baker (too weak?), Anthony Collins, Gosder Cherilous (RT?), Carl Nicks?..

    I'm getting into too many unknowns after this. Ugoh, McNeil, etc There are players all the time that go in and start but I'm just looking at our team and this draft. Again though, who knows really where these players are going to get selected!?
     

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