Quarterbacks Stunted Due to Offensive Line Deficiencies

Nick Davis
Kyler Murray let down by offensive line
Courtesy of Michael Chow – USA Today

Offensive lines are to be seen, not heard. They are the biggest guys on the field, yet the skill players receive all of the glory. When the skill players are racking up the yards and touchdowns, the offensive line is grinding in the dark trenches. The proliferation of film study has brought top performers to the forefront, but there’s always another side.

When the quarterback is on his back and the running back can’t get his 1000 yards, the offensive line is quick to take the blame. Most times, it’s rightly so. One of the biggest issues with not having a competent offensive line is the quick deterioration of the skill players’ health. When a quarterback is taking more than 35 sacks a year, you should hear warning bells to avoid that QB.

Kyler Murray

Murray is one of the QBs I’m mentioning that this is not a knock on his skill. I fully believe that Kliff Kingsbury will open up the offense and let Murray air-raid defenses. Kingsbury even went out and acquired DeAndre Hopkins, a legitimate weapon brought after a falling out in Houston.

But man, the Cardinals offensive line is one of the NFL’s worst. Murray was tied for the most sacks taken at 48 for 2019. Even with his world-class speed, Murray still took the most sacks. Considering his 5’10 (are we even sure about that?) frame, Murray is due for an injury. He is one blindside sack from some drooling defensive end a foot taller than him away from taking a serious injury. Unfortunately, Murray’s body is not built to take 40+ sacks year after year.

I wish Kingsbury would have grabbed a top-line OT instead of a WR. Hopkins is a shiny new toy, but with the batteries (offensive line), Murray might not reach his full potential this year.

Russell Wilson

I love Russell Wilson. He is gritty, a top-flight leader, and he can will his team to victory. Another QB’s talent I’m not knocking, but his offensive line will not give him any help. Wilson was tied with Murray and Matt Ryan for the NFL lead in sacks taken last year.

While the offensive line did improve from 2018 with 51 sacks to 2019 with 48 sacks, Wilson has taken 40+ sacks since his second year in the NFL. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing problem in Seattle. Wilson has been incredibly durable during his physical tenure at Seattle, not missing a game since joining in 2012. But even steel has a breaking point.

I hope that he will be Superman as always and lead Seattle to a respectable season. Imagine if Wilson had a competent line during his tenure. He would run the table with the MVP award. But in the real world, he doesn’t and Wilson is vulnerable to injury this year.

Carson Wentz

Wentz is the biggest boom or bust QB candidate in 2020. He has the contract, he has the ring (albeit a Foles run), he has the skills. Most importantly, Wentz has the organization’s backing that he is the Eagles QB of now and the future. On the other side of the coin, Wentz cannot complete an entire season back to back years. The Eagles literally have a 50% chance that Wentz will finish the year.

Even if Wentz can be healthy, his offensive line is not giving him a chance to stay healthy. Unfortunately, Wentz took 37 sacks last year. Even worse, in 2018, Wentz’s offensive line let him down 31 times… in 5 fewer games.

Wentz is good to take a late-round chance on in case your QB1 or QB2 goes down. Though, in the earlier rounds, focus elsewhere to make your team overall stronger.

Deshaun Watson

Watson’s issue is his previous ACL injuries. Watson has suffered ACL tears in 2014 (left knee) and 2017 (right knee). He has torn both knees in both college and the NFL. He has recovered from both injuries to produce respectable numbers, but how many more tears can his body take?

Watson’s offensive line gave up 44 sacks last year compared to 62 sacks in 2018. That’s an improvement… but still worse than three-quarters of the NFL. So his first three years in the NFL are knee injury, line leads NFL in sacks allowed, and sixth-most sacks allowed in the NFL. Yikes!

BOB needs to do more for Watson if he wants Watson for a decade. With high mileage on his tires, Watson could get knocked out if his offensive line does not figure out how to keep him upright.

Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill was a great story for 2019. He redeemed himself in a contract year and secured the Brinks truck of money from the Titans. But the Titans should have spent a little bit of that money on building the offensive line up.

Rodger Saffold is a respectable guard, but the Titans’ right side of the offensive line is weak. The Titans are a run-heavy team with Derrick Henry but what are they going to do? Are the Titans going to run off tackle behind the Lewan and Saffold pairing 300 times a year? That’s impossible.

Even worse, with Tannehill and Marcus Mariota in 2019, the Titans offensive line let up a total of 56 sacks in 16 games. If Tannehill lasts an entire year, he’s going to go through the gauntlet.

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