The Saints have always prided themselves on a strong offensive line, and with Hill starting four games this season, they were put under a lot of stress this season.
However, New Orleans definitely didn’t have as strong of an offensive line as normal.
Sacks are a quarterback statistic, but finishing middle of the pack with sack percentage isn’t what we have come to expect from this offensive line, and it is clear that Brees’ ability to get rid of the ball quickly guided them tremendously.
Specifically, the interior offensive line struggled mightily this season, while their inability to protect Hill proved costly against the Eagles. Brees was also under more pressure than normal, which may have contributed to some of his struggles.
Where the offensive line did make a noticeable impact, however, was in the running game. They finished as a top-ten rushing offense by almost every metric, and their dominance became evident down the stretch.
They have rushed for 160+ yards in their past three games, and since we are well aware that they play much more of a role in rushing production than the running backs themselves, we need to give credit where credit is due.
With some injuries on the offensive line, in addition to a rookie starter in Cesar Ruiz, they certainly had to deal with adversity. The overall tackle play was excellent, while James Hurst was even able to step in admirably for Terron Armstead.
The main issues were on the interior offensive line, as Andrus Peat continued to struggle and Nick Easton wasn’t much better while rotating with Ruiz. Hopefully, the progression from Ruiz, in addition to continuity, will lead to more stability in the trenches in the future.
Overall Offensive Line Grade: B-
Pass-Blocking Grade: C
Run-Blocking Grade: B+
Offensive Tackles: B+
Interior Offensive Line: C-