The O-Line Calamity Index: Who’s in trouble up front?

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Updated: September 13, 2017

7:10 AM ET

The Offensive Line Calamity Index highlights NFL teams with the most riding on offensive lines that could be their undoing. In basic terms: Otherwise good teams that could be broken by O-line play.

No team can match the Seahawks in that regard, but they have company. Several teams with legitimate or at least semi-legitimate postseason aspirations can point to their offensive lines as the one thing that might ruin everything.

We start with an in-depth look at Seattle through the trained eyes of a veteran line coach who, perhaps surprisingly, sounds optimistic.


1. Seattle Seahawks

This is basically a championship team … if the line is even average. The starting five is a younger group with new faces in new places, so any realistic assessment says this line needs weeks — not days — to hit stride. But who has weeks when the offense can’t crack double digits on the scoreboard during a 17-9 loss at Green Bay?

“Their entire team rides or dies with that line, in terms of how far they go,” an evaluator from another team said.

That was already a somewhat scary proposition before left tackle George Fant suffered a season-ending injury during preseason. Fant himself was a project, but his improvement and athleticism were promising, at least.

The Packers pressured Russell Wilson 14 times on 32 pass plays. The 44 percent pressure rate exceeded Wilson’s league-high 36.5 percent rate from 2016, when he limped through portions of the season with ankle and knee injuries.

Poor pass protection is a bigger problem on the road than at home, which at least partly explains why Seattle finished 2016 with a losing record away from CenturyLink Field — a first since Wilson was a rookie in 2012. If Seattle’s loss to the Packers winds up costing them home-field advantage in the playoffs, they’ll have even more riding on their line’s improvement.

“Everyone said they are going to win the division, but I was like, ‘How?'” a general manager said. “They have no offensive line. [Ereck] Flowers at left tackle is rough, and it’s not his fault. He is a right tackle, a power guy only. That is not going to change. It will get worse from the standpoint of confidence because he is young and the media is after him there in New York.”

The Giants’ performance Sunday marked their seventh consecutive game without reaching 20 points. That includes their 38-13 playoff loss at Green Bay last season.

“I always felt offenses should click by about Week 4 or Week 5,” an evaluator said, “so if [the Giants] still look like this at that point, not good.”


3. Houston Texans

Opinions are mixed over whether the Texans are good enough overall to appear on this list, but they did win the AFC South last season, and they do have talent on defense. But with left tackle Duane Brown holding out, Houston gave up 10 sacks to Jacksonville in the opener. Ten!

The 2016 Texans gave up their 10th sack during their fifth game of the season. Former Texans starter David Carr took nine sacks in his second career game back in 2002. He never took 10. The mere fact that we’re mentioning David Carr in relation to the 2016 Texans cannot be good.

“You give up 10, there is no way in the world you can fix that,” a former GM said. “This is a disaster waiting to happen. They have talent on the roster and could be a solid team, but if you can’t pass protect, what happens is, you try to run and they put 8-9 guys in the box like the Rams did the other day against Indy.”