Top 10 combinations of offensive and defensive lines in 2018
The game of football has evolved over the last decade-plus. Fullbacks have disappeared, wide receivers are getting paid big bucks, teams use a variety of guys in the backfield and everything is just so much more about getting your playmakers the ball in space.
While all these things might be true and everybody knows the names of the superstars with the ball in their hands, to me there’s no doubt that the game is still won and lost in the trenches. If you can dictate the pace of the game and set the tone up front, you put yourself in a very good position to succeed.
Therefore I wanted to take a look at which teams have the most dominants fronts on both sides of the ball. I expect about eight of these ten teams to make the playoffs in 2018.
#1 Philadelphia Eagles
Offense: LT Jason Peters, LG Stefen Wisniewski, C Jason Kelce, LG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson; Bench - Halapoulivaati Vaitai & Chance Warmack
Defense: LE Brandon Graham, 1-tech Timmy Jernigan, 3-tech Fletcher Cox, RE Derek Barnett, Bench – Michael Bennett, Chris Long, Haloti Ngata
This team is number one by a wide margin for me. There’s a good argument for both the offensive and defensive line of the Eagles being the premiere units in the league. And guess what – they got even better this offseason.
We are talking about the quarterbacks and skill-players all the time, but the key to this offensive attack is the work they do up front. Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce are the top players at right tackle and center respectively, while this duo of guards trumps what any other team puts out there.
Stefen Wisniewski is a former center, who is often forgotten when talking about this O-line, but he and Kelce are in constant communication and putting the team in perfect position. Brandon Brooks at the other guard spot was one of the most highly rated players at his position as well.
The crazy part is that Jason Peters was playing like an elite blindside protector through seven weeks before he got hurt and this front still dominated. Vaitai did a more than solid job filling in for the future Hall of Famer, while Chance Warmack is a former top-ten pick and excellent back-up at the very least.
Defensively, they are as deep up front as any group out there. Last year Fletcher Cox was the most disruptive force on the interior of the defensive line not named Aaron Donald. Brandon Graham might not put up any huge numbers, but he constantly puts pressure on opposing quarterbacks and collects several tackles for loss.
The additions of Timmy Jernigan via trade and Derek Barnett through the draft immediately paid off. I have the sophomore D-end slotted in as a starter, which puts Michael Bennett on the bench for now, which is utterly ridiculous. The Eagles can use the nine-year veteran in a variety of roles and move him around in sub-packages. Long and Ngata are outstanding veteran presences and rotational pieces for them.