Looking at the NFC East right now, you could probably make a convincing argument that the weakest unit on all four teams in that division is the offensive line.
In New York, Eli Manning's blind side is in trouble with Will Beatty hurt and Mark Sanchez's front side is in jeopardy as the Jets look for a right tackle solution not named Wayne Hunter.
Have you heard? The Patriots' offensive line issues could derail their season and the Colts are on a mission to fix their shaky offensive line. Cleveland's offensive line is struggling, but so is Chicago's, St. Louis's, Jacksonville's, Baltimore's, Minnesota's, Arizona's, Atlanta's, San Francisco's, Pittsburgh's and San Diego's.
So if everyone's line sucks, I suppose nobody's line sucks. Or maybe we should rethink the criteria that determines how sucky a line is. Maybe, as passing becomes more prominent and pass rushers become more in-demand, pass protection is more difficult than it was before.
Six quarterbacks passed for 4,600 yards last season. Prior to 2001, only four pivots had ever accomplished that feat in NFL history. Last year was also the highest-scoring season in NFL history, and more yards were gained on a per-play basis than any previous year in history.
There are thousands of intricate factors that make good teams good and bad teams bad, but everyone in this league knows that to win you need to throw a lot and sack a lot. Period.
“At the NFL level,” said former lineman Ross Tucker last fall, “maybe you’re not meant to pass block 40 or 50 times a game.”
Maybe this is just the new reality.