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The Value of Things: Gaming the Offensive Line

How improved will the offensive line be?

Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Admittedly, there might be no other area on the team that is less related to the numbers than the offensive line. So much depends on how the group functions like a unit that is can be difficult to separate each individual player out and isolate their performance individually. That doesn’t keep groups like PFF from trying. Ultimately, it won’t keep us from trying either.

However, we take these numbers as a huge grain of salt. They help explain what has happened without really providing much support for what is likely to happen. George Warhop takes over as the offensive line coach after several years of game plan offenses that changed from week to week. The Texans will have one unified vision under Pep Hamilton and Warhop. They will be more aggressive and will hopefully have a more cohesive game plan from week to week. Who knows how that will translate, but it could mean an improvement across the board without changing personnel too much.

2021 Numbers

This is a reminder again that the numbers you see don’t mean anything other than this is what these players did. For instance, Tytus Howard played guard for much of the year and likely shouldn’t have. It isn’t his fault, but the numbers are what they are. You will see the snap count first, followed by their overall PFF score, score against the run, and then their score against the pass.

Tytus Howard: 927 snaps, 51.4 PFF, 42.5 Run, 70.1 Pass

Charlie Heck: 827 snaps, 56.0 PFF, 41.1 Run, 66.5 Pass

Matt Scharpring: 689 snaps, 59.9 PFF, 60.4 Run, 53.8 Pass

Justin Britt: 671 snaps, 63.9 PFF, 70.5 Run, 53.7 Pass

Geron Christian: 588 snaps, 59.5 PFF, 39.6 run, 78.8 Pass

Justin McCray: 545 snaps, 51.0 PFF, 59.2 run, 32.7 Pass

Lane Taylor: 311 snaps, 39.7 PFF, 36.8 run, 49.3 pass

Laremy Tunsil: 262 snaps, 60.8 PFF, 45.0 run, 75.2 pass

Jimmy Morrissey: 258 snaps, 45,0 PFF, 56.8 run, 20,0 pass

Marcus Cannon: 213 snaps, 66.6 PFF, 59.1 run, 69.9 pass

This is just a gentle reminder of a few things. First, the players in bold have either been released or are no longer on the depth chart. Secondly, the numbers reflect all of their snaps and not necessarily the numbers of where they are most likely to play. It is likely that Tytus Howard improves at right tackle since that is where he is used to playing.

The numbers above reveal two things. First, this team’s pass blocking was actually pretty good. An average score is 60 and most of the regulars were at 50 or higher at the very least. You do see some drop off when you get to the reserves, but that is what is supposed to happen. What you also see is some absolutely horrible run blocking totals. This is where we hope to see improvement based on the coaching and game plan.

2022 Offensive Linemen

Tytus Howard: 927 snaps, 51.4 PFF, 42.5 Run, 70.1 Pass

Charlie Heck: 827 snaps, 56.0 PFF, 41.1 Run, 66.5 Pass

Matt Scharpring: 689 snaps, 59.9 PFF, 60.4 Run, 53.8 Pass

Justin Britt: 671 snaps, 63.9 PFF, 70.5 Run, 53.7 Pass

Justin McCray: 545 snaps, 51.0 PFF, 59.2 run, 32.7 Pass

Laremy Tunsil: 262 snaps, 60.8 PFF, 45.0 run, 75.2 pass

Jimmy Morrissey: 258 snaps, 45,0 PFF, 56.8 run, 20,0 pass

A.J. Cann: 198 snaps, 47.7 PFF, 53.7 run, 32.6 pass

Scott Quessenbery: 115 snaps, 64.3 PFF, 64.0 run, 60,7 pass

Kenyon Green: N/A

Cann was signed because he had played for Warhop in Jacksonville so he presumably knows the system going in. That’s comforting in one sense and alarming in another. Anyone that has familiarity with the system and style has a leg up and yet he wasn’t very good in that system last year. He has had successful seasons in the system before though, so I guess there’s hope.

Green likely takes the other guard spot that Howard played for the majority of the season. We can presume at least league average performance across the board, but that is a dangerous assumption with rookies. He could be another Quenton Nelson or he could be another Scharpring. All current evidence points to the former and if that is the case then the Texans will have three lineman that are above average or better in 2022.

That leaves center and right guard as the two spots that are unknown or unsettled. Britt was re-signed and his overall numbers look okay. He is a player that might thrive in a simpler and more aggressive system. If that is the case then the Texans have four of five spots locked down. Right guard would appear to be a three headed monster between Cann, Scharpring, and guys like Quessenberry, Morrisey, and McCray.

The Texans have Charlie Heck returning as a swing tackle and they drafted Austin Deculus who is listed at tackle, but most scouts believe will move inside at the pro level. Clearly, the biggest competition will be at right guard and it could be the most important position battle on the team.

What’s missing

We started this with the defensive line and we will continue it with each position group. The whole idea is to game out what this team will be looking for in the 2023 draft and in free agency when they will have over 100 million dollars to spend. Obviously, no one can predict the future, but I think improvement across the board is a reasonable prediction. Of course, that could be limited by the idea that they really can’t get much worse.

Warhop wasn’t exactly kicking ass and taking names in Jacksonville. Then again, he could have been limited by Urban Meyer’s system. They have run the ball better than the Texans over the last few years. So, the Texans should run the ball better this season. If we assume that they hit on Kenyon Green and the tackles live up to their billing then it would appear that center and right guard are the only areas on the line that would need to be addressed.

Assessing the relative importance or urgency of priorities can be difficult. Is a good center or guard more important than a run stuffing defensive tackle? That depends on a variety of factors. Are the current occupants at least mediocre? How much does this team rely on running between the tackles? What is available in free agency that could fill some holes? These are all pertinent questions, but it would appear that getting another guard at least might be in the cards.