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LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

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  • LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

    LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

    "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.
    </p>


    </p>

    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.
    </p>


    </p>

    "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>
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1

  • #2
    Re: LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

    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.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

      Great read. Thank you RF!
      Emperor Tom

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

        So rbs aren't important anymore, lbs aren't important, & LTs soon to be irrelevant.....I see....

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

          [quote user="myles2424"]So rbs aren't important anymore, lbs aren't important, & LTs soon to be irrelevant.....I see....[/quote]

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

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

            Pretty soon It's gonna be a 8 on 8 passing drill for games.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION

              I'll take Joe Thomas on the gmen anyday.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: LEFT TACKLE IN THE NFL IS GRADUALLY BECOMING A LESS VALUED POSITION



                [quote user="NYG 5"]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.
                [/quote]</P>


                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>

                Comment

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