Today our series continues with the Offensive Tackles of the NFC East. While many people tend to look at LTs as not only the superior players, but the more important of the two, I find it generally true that both sides are of tremendous importance. Most defenses tend to put their premier pass rusher against the RT. Most offenses tend to rush the ball to the the right side more frequently. Most quarterbacks tend to roll out to the right side more often. Also, a sack is still a sack whether it comes from the blind side or the front. Because of this, I evaluated both the LTs and the RTs together.
If you haven’t been keeping up with BGN, please check out the archives below to see how other positions have stacked up
1. Tyron Smith - LT - Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 0 Sacks - 2 Hits - 13 Hurries Allowed | 10 Penalties
PFF Grade: 78.9
Key Stat: Took 849 snaps without allowing a sack which led the NFL in 2018
Smith was an animal in the passing game throughout the 2018 season. Considering the Dallas O-Line was directly responsible for 29 sacks, yet Smith didn’t allow a single one on his watch is more than impressive. Smith is not the greatest run blocker, but he’s plenty good enough to help pave the way for Zeke’s off side. With 10 penalties, Smith’s discipline is the biggest area that needs improvement this offseason.
2. Nate Solder - LT - New York Giants
2018 Stats: 7 Sacks - 3 Hits - 23 Hurries Allowed | 5 Penalties
PFF Grade: 74.1
Key Stat: New York averaged 7.2 Yds per Carry on rushing plays off of the Left Tackle position (highest among NFC East Tackles).
Where Solder struggled in the passing game, he excelled in the running game. Solders stats in pass protection look worse than they really were considering 7 of 33 pressures (21%) resulted in a sack, which is pretty high compared to the league average of 15%. Part of his excellence in the running game is due to Saquon Barkley, however, part of Barkley’s excellence is also due to Solder.
3. Lane Johnson - RT - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 5 Sacks - 5 Hits - 26 Hurries Allowed | 5 Penalties
PFF Grade: 78.8
Key Stat: 36 allowed pressures in 2018 were the most allowed by Johnson since his rookie year (2013 - 57)
Lane didn’t have the best year and this ranking shows it. Last year I had Johnson as the highest tackle in the division, but after a poor showing in both the running and passing game this year, I had to knock him down a few metaphorical pegs. Maybe he just had an off year. Maybe his PEDs are wearing off. Who knows. I’d like to see him earn his way back atop this list come next year, though.
4. Jason Peters - LT - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 2 Sacks - 8 Hits - 24 Hurries Allowed | 8 Penalties
PFF Grade: 69.6
Key Stat: 5 of the 8 penalties called on Peters were for False Starts.
Peters was still fairly dominant in the passing game last year, however he is starting to look somewhat aged in the running game. His quickness has taken a hit over the last few years and its becoming more evident. This was also seen in the passing game where he allowed a majority of the pressures against him to be committed to his inside. It’ll be interesting to see how many seasons the Eagles’ legend has left under his belt.
5. Trent Williams - LT - Washington
2018 Stats: 1 Sack - 9 Hits - 20 Hurries Allowed | 12 Penalties
PFF Grade: 74.1
Key Stat: Washington running backs gained just 2.0 Yds per attempt off of the left tackle position.
Trent Williams was a borderline elite pass blocker in 2018, but his work in the running game left a ton to be desired. With 12 penalties committed, Williams was finding too many ways to prevent his team from getting the first down. With a fair spread of false starts and holds in both the passing and running game, Williams’ discipline needs to be addressed by the Washington coaching staff.
6. Morgan Moses - RT - Washington
2018 Stats: 5 Sacks - 9 Hits - 19 Hurries Allowed | 15 Penalties
PFF Grade: 63.9
Key Stat: Only beaten with by bull rush twice last season.
Moses, the other Washington OT, also was guilty of committing way too many penalties last season. While Washington running backs fared better on the right side last season (3.1 Yds off RT) than they did on the left side, defensive pass rushers did, too. While Moses allowed just a few more pressures than Williams did, almost all of them were sacks.
7. La’el Collins - RT - Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 8 Sacks - 6 Hits - 32 Hurries Allowed | 10 Penalties
PFF Grade: 71.7
Key Stat: 46 pressures allowed in 2018 (5th most)
Once again in 2018, Collins did his best to demonstrate that he simply is not an NFL-level pass blocker. With so many pressures allowed, he was responsible for a majority of the sacks against Dallas, which helped the Cowboys truthers come up with excuses for Dak Prescott. For what its worth, with 5.1 rushing yards per carry by Dallas backs off of the right tackle, Collins seemed to do pretty well in the run blocking department. Unfortunately, the tackle position is relied upon for pass-blocking more than run-blocking.
8. Chad Wheeler - RT - New York Giants
2018 Stats: 5 Sacks - 4 Hits - 34 Hurries Allowed | 3 Penalties
PFF Grade: 47.4
Key Stat: 43 pressures allowed in 2018 (t-6th most)
Wheeler is basically a clone of La’el Collins, except he isn’t very good at run blocking. For what its worth, PFF ranked Wheeler as the WORST run-blocker in the league. Who was in second you probably weren’t wondering? That was Philadelphia’s very own Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
For the most part, the NFC East has a very solid group of tackles. With all 8 starting tackles set to return for the 2019 season, that statement should hold true until this time next year, at least. Again, thanks to Pro Football Focus for all statistics involved in this article. Stay tuned to BGN as the series continues with the Offensive Guards, next.