Oct 15, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints offensive linemen Zach Strief (64) and Chris Chester (65) celebrate a fourth quarter touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
OFFENSIVE LINE: D+
Terron Armstead might just be the best left tackle in the NFL this year, and the group still gets a D (plus). The reason for this is that what was advertised and expected was a unit who would create running lanes consistently for their backs and would keep Drew off his. Sometimes a single play can have a huge effect on a season, and if a group could get graded out for one play alone then Zach Strief getting Brees blasted against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is enough to fail the whole group. The play could have been that devastating to the team. However, Brees ended up being ok and the unit has played better the last few weeks.
Why such a harsh grade? The trade for Max Unger and getting rid of the ever disappointing Ben Grubbs was supposed to allow the line to become one of the strengths of the team. Unger was supposed to help create a dominant run blocking attack that would allow the Saints to dictate terms to their opponents. Up to this point that has simply not been the case. Unger has played well, but what has been missing from his game to this pint has been consistency. Certainly the offensive line more than any other unit has to gel, and that is part of it, but Unger has yet to have the impact we had hoped for.
Part of the struggles for this unit have been a result of injuries. Tim Lelito, Terron Armstead, first round pick Andrus Peat, and Jahri Evans have all missed time. Interestingly the only player who has yet to miss time is Zach Strief, who trails only Lelito in negative plays by my count (which is far from flawless mind you). Strief has actually played ok this year, but WHEN he gets beat its usually badly and his play in that game against Tampa got the starting quarterback hurt so that kills his grade.
All in all this group has been a major disappointment through the first half of the season. They certainly have the ability to get things together and get rolling in latter parts of the year. They need to gel together and become a true unit if they are to have any chance of living up to the expectations place upon them in the off-season. The Saints have a chance to maybe make a run at the playoffs, but the only way that happens is if the line steps up and is able to become not only effective, but consistent.