06-21-2012, 10:42 AM
LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nfl--left-tackle-in-the-nfl-is-gradually-become-a-less-valued-position.html;_ylt=Ag.QnK4ixFiZmjQ3vkCOHJZDubYF)

"Quarterback Tom Brady tried his best, unsuccessfully, to talk former New
England Patriots left tackle Matt Light out of retiring.

The question is how much Light's presence truly mattered. </p>

As the NFL moves further into the era of wide-open passing attacks featuring
quarterbacks who either get rid of the ball quickly (like Brady) or create time
with their scrambling ability (like the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers), an
interesting trend is developing: </p>

The left tackle's importance is decreasing. </p>

A position once known for graceful athletes and a spot Bill Parcells once
considered part of his "holy trinity" of building a team (to go with quarterback
and left cornerback) has become like lighter fluid at a barbeque. You could use
it, but you can get by without it. </p>

To wit: </p>

Of the top four scoring teams in the NFL last season
(Packers, New Orleans Saints, Patriots and Detroit Lions), only the Lions
featured a former first-round pick at left tackle (Jeff Backus). And Backus is
hardly a great player. In 11 seasons, he has never made a Pro Bowl. Light has
retired, Chad Clifton (Packers) was released in April and Jermon Bushrod
(Saints) is a former fourth-round pick most often described as "solid" by NFL
personnel men. </p>

Only once in the past 11 seasons has the starting left
tackle for the Super Bowl champion been a first-round pick. That was Tarik Glenn
for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2006 campaign. In fact, former fifth-round
pick David Diehl, a converted guard who lacks the prototypical lateral quickness
viewed as necessary for the position, has helped the New York Giants win two of
the past five Super Bowls. </p>

Of the 11 offensive tackles taken with top-10 draft picks
from 2004 to 2011, only one has helped his team get to the Super Bowl. That was
Levi Brown of the Arizona Cardinals, and Brown started at right tackle in the
championship against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the '08 season. Conversely,
highly regarded left tackles such as Jake Long and Joe Thomas of the Miami
Dolphins and Cleveland Browns, respectively, have mostly been relegated to
watching the postseason from afar.


In short, there is ample reason to question the value of a position that once
seemed essential. Over a four-year span from the 1997 to 2000 seasons, the Super
Bowl was won by teams featuring some of the greatest left tackles ever. Hall of
Famer Gary Zimmerman (a supplemental first-round pick in 1984) helped the Denver
Broncos to back-to-back titles ('97 and '98 seasons). He was followed by Orlando
Pace (the No. 1 overall pick in 1997) when the St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl
XXXIV and finally by Jonathan Ogden (No. 4 overall in 1996) with the Baltimore
Ravens a year later. </p>

Even later contenders that never won a Super Bowl, such as the Seattle
Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars, put a premium on great left tackle play with
the likes of Walter Jones and Tony Boselli. </p>

"The great tackles you're talking about were both great pass protectors
and great run blockers, guys who were in-line maulers," Carolina
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "A guy like Pace or Ogden, if they got out on
top of you, they were going to wipe you out. But they could also control anybody
coming in on the blind side." </p>

Giants defensive end Justin Tuck took it a step further, essentially arguing
that style of play has made the left tackle less of a factor. </p>

"The game has changed and I know the quarterbacks are not going to like
this but it's making the game easy on the quarterbacks," Tuck said. "The ball
comes out a lot faster. The rules on the [secondary] as far as what we can do to
wide receivers, all these things allow quarterbacks to be way more potent than
they used to be. It's handcuffing defensive players and I don't know if it has
any correlation to offensive tackles, but I would like to see a graph of how
long quarterbacks sit in the pocket now. </p>

"You can have a great rush by the defensive lineman, but you can't get there
because the ball is gone. I watch old films. You see how long Joe Montana held
the ball, [John] Elway, those guys. They sat in the pocket a little more and had
more time. When I first came in the league, we said that three seconds is the
time you have to get there. I would like to see how many times the quarterback
held the ball three seconds against us." </p>

Ultimately, more teams are utilizing precision passing attacks that require
quarterbacks to get rid of the ball much faster than ever before. With clubs
using variations of four-receiver and/or two-tight end sets, quarterbacks don't
necessarily need their linemen to hold their blocks as long. Increasingly, teams
are devoting more resources at guard to keep the quarterback from getting rushed
quickly up the middle. </p>

"The pass rush is more about straight lines now," New York Jets coach Rex
Ryan said. "In the past, you would loop an end inside, take a longer route, to
confuse the blocking scheme, but you don't have time for that now. It's get
there and get there fast." </p>

Ryan's approach is a great example. Many of his best pass-rush schemes are
"overloads," where he may only bring three or four rushers, but they all come
from the same side of the offensive formation. </p>

The Patriots are a great example of how protection is now focused on the
middle of the line rather than the classic "blindside" protection led by the
left tackle. New England's best offensive lineman is Pro Bowl guard Logan
Mankins, who teamed with veteran Brian Waters on the inside. New England
suffered most on offense last season when it was forced to replace injured
center Dan Koppen. Tuck indicated there's an obvious reason for that.


"The time we kept Brady in the pocket and didn't allow him to step up, that's
when we had the most success against him," Tuck said. "Now, that's any
quarterback, but it's especially [true of] Brady. All he needs is one step. Not
even one step, just be able to plant that front foot and deliver and he's a
different quarterback. </p>

"You can rush him off the edges all you want and he'll slide and step forward
away from that. You have to have forward pressure in his face." </p>

Likewise, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has benefitted in recent years
from the play of guards Jhari Evans and Carl Nicks. The interesting question for
Brees, whenever he signs a new contract, is what impact the loss of Nicks to
free agency will have. The Saints signed veteran Ben Grubbs to replace him. </p>

The bottom line: The premium that used to be paid for a left tackle is no
longer the case. When the Minnesota Vikings took left tackle Matt Kalil with the
No. 4 overall pick this year, many executives understood the logic but
questioned the importance. </p>

"Kalil is a good player, but he's not one of those guys you're talking about,
like Boselli or Pace or Ogden," an NFC executive said. "You look around and
there are some good ones still, like Jake Long and Joe Thomas. But what does it
matter if you have one of them?" </p>

The executive pointed out that in the nine combined seasons that Long and
Thomas have played, they have yet to win a playoff game and have played in only
one. </p>

"It's a luxury position," the executive concluded. </p>

Or as Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey said: "We [all the teams in the NFL]
throw about 62 percent of the time right now. It's not just the left tackle you
have to worry about now. You have good pass rushers everywhere and the defense
isn't just going to leave those guys over on the left side. They're going to put
them wherever they think they can get to you fastest. So you better get rid of
it fast." </p>

06-21-2012, 05:37 PM
especially since teams run out of the shotgun way more often now, the QB has less of a blindside.

i think the LT is more important a run blocker now. as the article says, pass protection is less important. i mean, the giants won two super bowls with dave diehl at LT.

06-21-2012, 06:27 PM
Great read. Thank you RF!

06-21-2012, 11:49 PM
So rbs aren't important anymore, lbs aren't important, & LTs soon to be irrelevant.....I see....

06-23-2012, 08:23 PM
So rbs aren't important anymore, lbs aren't important, & LTs soon to be irrelevant.....I see....

Neither of which has lost relevancy, the nature of the positions have just changed.

06-24-2012, 04:30 AM
Pretty soon It's gonna be a 8 on 8 passing drill for games.

06-25-2012, 12:02 PM
I'll take Joe Thomas on the gmen anyday.

06-25-2012, 12:32 PM
especially since teams run out of the shotgun way more often now, the QB has less of a blindside.

i think the LT is more important a run blocker now. as the article says, pass protection is less important. i mean, the giants won two super bowls with dave diehl at LT.

Yeah, DD at LT, and everyone on this board was bashing the daylights out of him for not protecting Eli better. Yes, the postion has changed, somewhat, but when Eli is laying flat on his back because our LT got beat, everyone, including me, will want his head.</P>