Skip to main content

Offensive Line of the Week: Titans' front keys statement win

In today's fantasy-obsessed football world, it's easy to overlook the contributions of one position group: offensive line. Well, NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara is here to fix that. Following each batch of games, O'Hara will revisit the O-line performances of all the teams that played and ultimately select that week's top five units, headlined by a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The rankings that you see below reflect O'Hara's pecking order for Week 3 and Week 3 alone. This is NOT a running O-line Power Rankings for 2017. This is NOT a projection into the future. The goal of this weekly column is to answer one simple question: Which five offensive lines stood out above the rest in last week's action?

Without further ado, the Week 3 winner is ...

1) Tennessee Titans

Tennessee certainly didn't get off to an ideal start against the Seahawks on Sunday. The Titans' first 12 offensive plays generated a grand total of 17 yards, equaling four straight three-and-outs. But the team was patient enough to stick with the run game, and it paid off in a major way.

After sputtering out of the gates, the Titans' offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage in the 33-27 win. Of Tennessee's 420 yards of total offense, 195 came on the ground. And though it was tough sledding for DeMarco Murray early on -- SEE: 25 rushing yards in the first half -- the veteran back ended up with 14 carries for 115 yards, thanks in large part to a 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

While it took a little while for the ground attack to start chugging, the Titans' O-line did a fantastic job protecting Marcus Mariota from the outset. The third-year quarterback wasn't sacked all game -- in fact, the line didn't allow a single quarterback hit. Seattle's typically ferocious pass rush was held at bay to a remarkable degree, as Mariota was only pressured once the entire game, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Titans boasted PFF's top-ranked pass-blocking unit and third-best run-blocking unit in Week 3. They received a huge performance from right guard Josh Kline, who did a great job against Michael Bennett in pass protection. Sophomore right tackle Jack Conklin put on a clinic against Bennett and Cliff Avril, while Taylor Lewan continues to play like the most athletic left tackle in the league. The Titans' tackles are totally different players -- employing divergent techniques -- but both are really effective.

This was a statement win for a Tennessee team that's on the rise, and the offensive line really spearheaded the effort.

The rest of the top five O-lines from Week 3

2) Jacksonville Jaguars: Traveling across the pond to face the Ravens in Wembley Stadium, the Jaguars showed British football fans what a true beatdown looks like. Scoring points on five of its first six possessions, Jacksonville's offense would go on to rack up 410 yards (including 166 on the ground) in the 44-7 shellacking of previously unbeaten Baltimore.

It's remarkable that quarterback Blake Bortles was not sacked the entire game, considering the Ravens had eight in the first two weeks. And with a clean pocket, the much-maligned QB completed 20 of his 31 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns (against zero interceptions). How does a 128.2 passer rating sound, Jags fans? On the ground, Leonard Fournette did most of the heavy lifting, with 17 carries for 59 yards and his third touchdown of the season.

This is the offense we've been waiting to see from Jacksonville. Let's just hope it makes its way back to the States.

Second-year signal caller Jared Goff continues to show vast improvement in Year 2, with this being his finest pro performance to date. Goff completed 22 of 28 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns -- good for a 145.8 passer rating. The 2016 No. 1 overall pick clearly seems more comfortable with the new Sean McVay-led coaching staff, but GM Les Snead deserves a lot of credit for surrounding him with better talent in 2017. And this starts with his new blind-side protector, Andrew Whitworth. The veteran left tackle didn't yield a sack against a pretty athletic Niners front.

Meanwhile, Todd Gurley logged his first 100-yard rushing effort since December of 2015. With his offensive line creating lanes, the third-year back finished with 113 rushing yards, 36 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

4) Chicago Bears: In a weekend full of surprises across the league, nothing was more stunning than seeing the Bears run all over Pittsburgh's defense. It's remarkable that you can win a football game in 2017 with 84 net yards passing, but that's exactly what Chicago did in this 23-17 overtime triumph.

Despite an awful second half that included four punts, a fumble and an interception, the Bears squeaked out their first win of the season. With the dynamic efforts of second-year back Jordan Howard (23 rushes for 138 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner) and jitterbug rookie Tarik Cohen (12 rushes for 78 yards), Chicago finished with 220 yards rushing. Bears ball carriers averaged 3.9 yards per rush before contact -- the third-best mark in Week 3, according to Pro Football Focus. All in all, PFF ranked the O-line as the fourth-best run-blocking unit this week. And although Glennon didn't provide much in the aerial attack, don't blame the big boys up front -- the offensive line yielded one sack, but no other QB hits.

The O-line deserves credit for performing through a whole bunch of player shuffling in this one, too. With starting guard Josh Sitton inactive due to a rib injury, Cody Whitehair slid from center to guard and Hroniss Grasu got the start at the pivot. But Grasu went down in the first quarter, causing Whitehair to go back to center and Bradley Sowell to fill in at left guard. Kyle Long's return to action definitely helped matters. The offensive guard, who hadn't played in a game since suffering an ankle injury in Week 10 of last season, was a mauler in the run game.

5) Philadelphia Eagles: While the O-line gave up two early sacks -- with one yielded by Chance Warmack, who eventually ceded snaps to the much more effective Stefen Wisniewski -- the Eagles ran for 193 yards against a stout Giants D in a 27-24 win. That rushing total is even more impressive when you consider that Philly lost Darren Sproles to injury early in the second quarter. LeGarrette Blount (12 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown) and Wendell Smallwood (12 carries for 71 yards) provided a thunder-and-lightning combo, with Blount running over numerous defenders in a rugged outing.

Lane Johnson stood out on an individual level as one of Pro Football Focus' highest-graded tackles in the NFL last week. The offensive line as a whole had the second-best run-blocking grade and third-best pass-blocking grade, according to PFF. If it hadn't been for the early sacks, this unit could've taken home the top spot on this list.

Follow Shaun O'Hara on Twitter @ShaunOHara60.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content