As NFL fans, we get caught up in the “exciting” part of the game. We tend to pay attention to those who have the mainstream stats, that are easy to quantify. Right now, Saints fans’ are anxiously, anticipating, watching the Jameis Winston led offense with the return of Michael Thomas and additions of Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry, to go along with one of the best running backs in the league, Alvin Kamara.
As exciting as it is, that the Saints have this plethora of weapons, it means nothing if the offensive line isn’t good. The offensive line is like oxygen to humans. We don’t see it and take it for granted, until we are gasping for air. When a team has a bad offensive line, both the passing and running game are suffocated.
New Orleans’ offensive line did a good job of protecting the quarterbacks last season, as they allowed 37 sacks last season. This was 12th best in the league. On the opposite end, the Saints were 27th in rush yards per attempt with 3.9 yards per rush. The line struggled to create holes for the running backs to go through.
A big part of that falls on the offensive line. Part of that falls on the running backs, maybe not seeing the holes that are there or knowing when to bounce the rushing attempt outside of the tackles. Another part of the game that definitely affected the run game was the lack of weapons on the outside. Teams were locked in on stopping the run. The addition of the weapons on the outside that were mentioned earlier, should help with opening the running lanes.
Terron Armstead held down the blind side of Saints’ quarterbacks and opened running lanes for the black and gold running backs, for the past nine years. Will the offensive line be able to overcome the lost of a multiple time pro-bowler at left tackle?
In the first round of the draft, the Saints drafted, Trevor Penning, out of Northern Iowa. It looks like either Penning or veteran James Hurst will be starting at left tackle. Whoever is picked to play left tackle, playing at least an average level, is the key to the Saints offense living up to their potential. New Orleans doesn’t need the replacement for Armstead to be as good as Armstead, that would be unfair to ask. They just need him to be “okay”. The rest of the offensive line will be returning starters who have built a connection with each other.
If the Saints offensive line, can continue to protect the quarterback. Improve on, opening up running lanes for Kamara and company. New Orleans will have a top five offense in the NFL, this season.
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