One in the Trenches

Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara were a combination that the league could barely deal with much less stop. Drew Brees had the time to find targets like Mike Thomas at a historically high completion rate. What do these scenarios have in common you ask? Quite simply an offensive line that despite injuries, youth, and the grind of the season dominated all in their wake. Offensive line coach Dan Roushar had some 18 line combinations during the 2017 season yet did not miss a beat.

Last year Zach Strief strained his MCL in week one and came back in London week four and was lost for the season in that Miami game. The year before, Strief had one of his best years and was given a raise before last season. They had to adapt and overcome the loss of Strief that left a rookie from Wisconsin to fill in. Ryan Ramczyk was a first round pick in the 2017 draft who many Saints fans were not happy about the black and gold selecting. You know who you are people! My thing was he’s an offensive lineman from Wisconsin, enough said. All Ramczyk did was play every offensive snap at a very high level. Another guy who played every offensive snap was Max Unger the stalwart center who was dealing with a nagging foot injury before the season. Larry Warford was a free agent acquisition and played a solid right guard.

Andrus Peat, to me, might have been the MVP of the unit with four starts at left tackle and ten starts at left guard. Peat is an average left tackle but an excellent left guard who plays with intelligence and athleticism. Terron Armstead (when healthy) is a pro bowl left tackle. The team was 8 – 2 with him on the field just 3 – 3 with him out. Senio Kelemete- the stellar backup, has departed, but Jermon Bushrod came back to New Orleans to help. Long story short, all five starters from 2017 will return to start the 2018 season. Last year this unit lead the league with the least passing pressures allowed and was dominant at run blocking. The Eagles, Cowboys, Steelers and Rams all are great tackle to tackle but these Saints are as good as any in the NFL.