The Tennessee Titans are clearly emphasizing keeping their highly touted offensive line in check this offseason. Tennessee signed starting right guard, Josh Kline, and gave starting left guard, Quinton Spain, a qualifying offer sheet. Despite questions about how well Spain fits into the new zone blocking scheme, he still offers cohesive experience to the unit. After two seasons on the job, General Manager Jon Robinson clearly sees something in this offensive line that’s worth retaining.
Ranking the Offensive Line
Last season, the Titans finished the season rated as the fifth best offensive line in football. Zoltan Buday, from Pro Football Focus, described the unit as the most balanced unit in the league. Buday said that the tackles performed slightly better than the interior but the gap between performers is small.
The strength of the Titans offense is clearly running the football. Last season, this offensive line averaged 2.12 yards before the first contact, which was good enough to rank third in the league. Putting that into perspective, the league average was 1.56 yards before the first contact. On the season, the Titans rushed for 1833 yards, which ranked 15th in the league.
The middle of the pack rush rating, however, is no reflection on just how well the offensive line played. On top of being an elite unit at creating separation for the running backs, the pass protection was also elite. The unit recorded a pass-blocking efficiency rating of 82.3, which was tied for third in the league. Out of 553 pass blocking snaps, the unit surrendered 126 total pressures and just 14 sacks. Unfortunately, due to multiple injuries to the offensive “skill players”, this didn’t translate to a stout pass attack. The passing game recorded just 3191 yards, which ranked 23rd.
Looking Into the 2018 Crystal Ball
Robinson clearly wants to keep the unit together and continue to build on the strengths of quarterback Marcus Mariota. The zone blocking scheme is expected to create more running lanes for running backs, Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. This scheme will also help Mariota thrive with more designed runs and play action looks. This schematic change is setting up to be an equation for success. Simple, effective run blocking, plus a power running game, and an accurate mobile quarterback equals an explosive 2018 offense.
Things continue to come together for the Titans after making strides last season. This Titans offense is going to take a giant leap forward in 2018, and it all starts with the men up front.
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