Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Sep 2010

Introduction to Word of Muth

by Ben Muth

Welcome to the inaugural Word of Muth, a new weekly column on Football Outsiders devoted to offensive line play in the NFL. The column will focus on three teams throughout the NFL season, looking at the offensive line personnel, scheme, struggles, and success. Every week there will be an in-depth look at the previous game for one of these three teams and how the big guys up front affected the outcome, breaking down terminology and sketching out blocking schemes. The goal is to give you an understanding of what exactly the hogs are doing -- or not doing -- in a game.

We'll break down the teams that will be covered this season in just a little bit, but first I want to introduce myself. I'm Ben Muth, and I'm a former offensive lineman. (It feels good to get that off my chest.) I played at Stanford for five years. I lettered for four years, started for two, and my senior season I was named 2008 first-team All Pac-10. However, because we lost too many football games during my tenure, I had three head coaches and four offensive coordinators. That experience should really help the column, because I played in a lot of systems, and therefore will be able to recognize a lot of different schemes. After my college career, I was picked up by the San Diego Chargers. I was eventually released because I was injured, and then not picked up again because I didn't block that many people when I was healthy. I coached a little high school ball, and now I'm here at Football Outsiders.

The Teams

Dallas Cowboys

Why we chose them: Everyone loves the Cowboys this season. There is a lot of talent at the skill positions and on defense, and plenty of Super Bowl talk to go along with it. However, the Football Outsiders mainframe, doing its best Big Tuna impression, isn't willing to bust out the anointing oil just yet. The Cowboys' offensive line is cause for concern, with four of five starting linemen either 32 or turning 32 sometime this season. It will be interesting see whether or not this unit can carry the fans' lofty expectations on its broad shoulders.

Staff/Scheme: With Wade Phillips as head coach, the offensive scheme is left almost entirely in the hands of the assistants. This offensive staff has direct ties to the Cowboys dynasty of the '90s. The coordinator is former third string quarterback/Thanksgiving day icon Jason Garrett. The offensive line coach, Hudson Houck, was also the offensive line coach for those great Dallas teams of the past. A hallmark of the Dallas system is to be very balanced, using a power running game, especially the lead draw, to set up a play action and vertical passing game. According to the FO game charting project, the Cowboys ran more draw plays than any other NFL offense in 2009.

The Cowboys are an interesting team because of the two different styles of their running backs. Marion Barber is more of a between-the-tackles grinder, while Felix Jones is more of a slashing speedster. The size of the offensive line and offensive scheme, particularly the lead draw, are generally suited more to Barber's strengths. A common misconception about the lead draw is that it is deceptive. It is not. The play is a lot more about an isolation lead with a token fake, rather than the deceptive pass-style blocking of your usual draw play. It is a smash mouth football play that involves a double team at the point of attack, and a fullback leading through the hole and causing a neck-snapping collision with the middle linebacker. But Barber was far less effective than either Jones or Tashard Choice last season, so it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys distribute touches in 2010.

Projected Starters: From left to right: Doug Free, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo

The million-dollar question is whether this Cowboys' line is experienced or just old. "Old players" are all players over 30 that people decide aren't playing well. "Experienced players" are all players over 30 enjoying success. Players will often fluctuate between these two groups week by week depending on whether their team wins or loses.

If we put on our rose glasses, there are many signs that point to this being a very solid veteran group. Kosier, Gurode, Davis, and Colombo have been playing alongside each other for the past couple of years. Playing together as a unit, especially in the same system, is invaluable to an offensive line. Even the new kid on the block, Free, has been with the Cowboys since 2007 and started seven games last year at right tackle for an injured Marc Colombo. These guys haven't just been playing together, they've been successful. Last year they were third in the NFL in both Adjusted Line Yards and offensive DVOA, and finished in the top three in the NFC in both rushing and passing yards. Gurode and Davis both made the Pro Bowl.

The other side of the coin is that the line is old, with a question mark at left tackle. Everyone except Free is on the wrong side of 30. While the Cowboys line has a history of remaining relatively healthy, the injury risk increases with each year. Left guard Kyle Kosier has already sprained his MCL and could miss the start of the season. Even if the linemen stay healthy, recent history suggests that their performance should drop. In 2006, the Seahawks and Broncos had the oldest offensive lines in football. The year before (2005) they had finished first and second in offensive DVOA. In 2006, they plummeted to 20th and 27th, respectively. The only player under 30 on the Cowboys offensive line has never started a game at the position he is playing, and he just happens to be playing left tackle. This means that for all their experience up front, America's team is still trusting the backside of Tony Romo to a relative unknown. If all that weren't enough, their interior line is not as strong as the two Pro Bowl names may indicate. The Cowboys struggled mightily last year in short-yardage situations, finishing 26th in the league in converting "power runs." Also, they were far more effective running outside the tackles last year than they were in between the tackles.

Key Reserves: OT Alex Barron, OT Robert Brewster, G Montrae Holland

The Cowboys acquired Alex Barron from the Rams for former first-rounder and oft-criticized linebacker Bobby Carpenter this offseason. He has started at left tackle in the NFL in the past, something that Doug Free can't claim. Barron was brought in as an insurance policy in case Free turns out to be a total nightmare, or, if you're an optimist, to add depth. Montrae Holland is an experienced pro who can replace either guard in a pinch. Robert Brewster is a third-round pick from a year ago. The fact that Barron was brought in to provide depth at the tackle position doesn't speak volumes for Brewster. Usually an offensive lineman picked that high should be at least a swing tackle (meaning the first tackle off the bench regardless of side) in his second year. This means one of two things. Either Brewster is being groomed to be the right tackle in the very near future (like next season) and they don't want to move him around too much and risk his footwork -- or he has been disappointing so far. Only time will tell.

Washington Redskins

Why we chose them: First, they have three new starters up front, including a highly touted rookie. Second, they have a new coach with a new scheme -- which happens to be the most talked about running scheme of the last 20 years. While Washington gives us two teams in the same division, that's not a bad thing. We can look at how Dallas blocks against an opponent one week, then look at how Washington blocks against the same opponent a couple weeks later. Finally, the Redskins offensive linemen will always be the Hogs, at least in name, no matter what the personnel is. It seems wrong to write about offensive lines and not include them.

Staff/Scheme: Daniel Snyder's big offseason acquisition was head coach Mike Shanahan. Mike brought his son Kyle from the Texans to be the coordinator. That means you can expect a "West Coast" style passing offense, and the zone stretch running game that both Shanahans have employed. It will be Chris Foerster's job to make sure the offensive line can execute these schemes. Foerster comes from San Francisco, by way of Baltimore. In San Francisco he coached young first-round tackle Joe Staley. He also coached one of the all-time great left tackles, Jonathan Ogden, when he was at Baltimore. That experience should prove valuable in coaching Trent Williams.

The zone stretch game requires athleticism from the boys up front, especially at the tackle and center positions. That's because these guys are either blocking defensive ends (playside tackles) or climbing to the second level and blocking linebackers who are running in a dead sprint (centers and backside tackles). The guards need to have a little more lead in their backside, as they are often charged with keeping nose tackles and three-technique defensive tackles on the line of scrimmage. The Redskins certainly tried to build their line this way, getting two first-round draft picks at tackle and a center that weighs under 300 pounds. (Remember that all first-rounders are incredibly athletic for their positions. Anyone who is not a freak athlete slides to the later rounds. Quarterbacks and Sebastian Janikowski -- and his beer gut -- are exceptions to this rule.) Their guards are both big guys more than capable of flattening defensive tackles. Of course having all the right parts isn't necessarily enough -- they have to fit together. This is especially true in a zone running game. Knowing when you can climb to the second level, and when you should stay with your teammate on the down lineman is vital to success. How quickly this unit gels could be the difference this season.

Projected Starters: From left to right: Trent Williams, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, Artis Hicks, Jammal Brown

The 2010 version of the Hogs will feature a lot of new faces. Only Rabach and Dockery return from last year. Rarely is this kind of turnover a good sign, but in cases like the Redskins', any change from the status quo should be positive. The big additions come at tackle. The Skins used a top five pick on left tackle of the present and future Trent Williams. The recent success of tackles like Jake Long and Joe Thomas make this seem like a fairly safe pick, but that's what the Raiders thought about Robert Gallery. The good news for Williams is that a lot of pressure can be taken off him with the series of bootlegs and sprint-outs the Redskins will likely run. When teams move the quarterback's throwing point around, it becomes difficult for defensive ends to get an effective pass rush. Opposite of Williams, on the right side, will be Jammal Brown. Like Williams, Brown is a former first-round draft pick from Oklahoma. Brown comes over from the world champion New Orleans Saints ... where he missed the entire championship run with a hip injury. Before the injury Brown was a Pro Bowler, so how he comes back will play a key role for the Redskins offense.

The interior offensive line is a veteran group. Rabach and Dockery anchored the line last season. The problem is that they anchored a group that wasn't very effective (26th in Adjusted Line Yards, 27th in Adjusted Sack Rate, and a 23 percent QB hurry percentage, which was the worst in the league). The Redskins also brought in veteran reserve Artis Hicks. Hicks has started for both the Eagles and Vikings in the past but has been used mostly as a reserve in recent years. He will need to be able to hold up for a full 16-game schedule if the Redskins hope to have the chemistry that they'd need to make the playoffs.

Key Reserves: C/G Edwin Williams, OT Stephon Heyer, G Chad Rinehart

All three of the Redskins' key reserves started in at least two games last year. It's always good to have some starting experience coming off your bench to provide depth. On the other hand, the front office was able to evaluate these players during in-game situations, and then decided that they needed to bring in three new offensive linemen to make up the starting unit. The Redskins will have to hope that these players (Williams, Heyer, and Rhinehart) learn from the sidelines this year and play at a higher level should they be called upon.

Arizona Cardinals

Why we chose them: The main reason is Russ Grimm. With Howard Mudd and Alex Gibbs in different forms of retirement or semi-retirement, Grimm may be the most respected offensive line coach in the NFL. Also, the Cardinals major in the Power play. The other teams might dabble in it, but the Cardinals will likely use it as their No. 1 running play. So they will offer a different style of running game than the other teams. And finally, I grew up a Cardinals fan and it's my column. I figure if I'm going to watch every snap anyway, I might as well write about what happens.

Staff/Scheme: Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm came over together from Pittsburgh and helped turn around a Cardinals franchise that had been awful seemingly forever. Success wasn't the only thing the coaching duo brought from Pittsburgh, they also brought a commitment to the Power play. If ever there was a coach perfectly matched to a play, it's Russ Grimm and the Power play. Grimm was elected to the Hall of Fame for his work with the famed Hogs of the '80s where he made his name pulling on the Counter Trey. It was in Washington where he learned about a between-the-tackles running game from Joe Gibbs and Joe Bugel, two of the most influential offensive coaches of the last half century. And with a name like Russ Grimm and big-league mustache to match, a play simply called Power seems to fit. Power is the most common man-blocked running play in the NFL. The Power play involves a double team at the point of attack, a fullback with a kick-out block, and a guard pulling and leading through the hole.

Not only do Grimm and Whisenhunt have a history with the play from their days in Pittsburgh, all signs point to them relying heavily on the play this year. They brought in Alan Faneca, who has pulled on the power play for Steelers and Jets during the past nine seasons, the two best power teams in the NFL. Also, the play suits the running style of Beanie Wells perfectly. This could be a good sign for Cardinals fans, as for the most part you need two running back sets to run the play (you can go double tights and motion a tight end into the backfield, but then you're in a two-back formation). The Cardinals were far more effective running the ball in two-back sets last year, averaging a half-yard more per carry, with a far higher DVOA. Without Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin, the Cardinals should be less likely to spread the field and air it out. A power running game can help make up for that loss of offense, as well as slow down opposing pass rushes.

Projected Starters: From left to right: Levi Brown, Alan Faneca, Lyle Sendlein, Deuce Lutui, Brandon Keith

The name that jumps out is clearly Faneca. A free-agent acquisition from the Jets, Faneca has made the Pro Bowl just about every year since 2001, and most of those Pro Bowl appearances (most) weren't lifetime achievement awards. Many of those great seasons came under Grimm's tutelage in Pittsburgh. Last season, however, he was the weak link of an excellent Jets front line on pass plays, having more Blown Blocks than anyone else on that team. Faneca is joined inside by returning starters Deuce Lutui and Lyle Sendlein. Sendlein was undrafted out of Texas but has been a solid starter for the past couple of years. Lutui is the lazy and overweight guy that sat out offseason workouts, but is too good to lose his job. The Cardinals did everything they could to try to replace Lutui, bringing in two free agents, Faneca and Rex Hadnot, and moving their other starting guard, Reggie Wells, to the right side. But despite showing up to camp out of shape, he failed the conditioning test, Lutui has not only played himself back into a starting role this preseason, but played Reggie Wells out of town.

Tackle is the question mark for this unit. Former first-rounder Levi Brown is finally moving to left tackle, despite having led the Cardinals in Blown Blocks last year. With the lefty Leinart now gone, Brown is in charge of protecting the quarterback's blind side for the first time in his NFL career. Brandon Keith will be charged with taking the opposite tackle spot. Keith played a fair amount last season after starter Mike Gandy was injured, and played well enough for the staff to feel comfortable with him in the starting lineup. Keith made a bad first impression this preseason, giving up a brutal sack on the first third down against the Texans. The ability of these guys to keep Derek Anderson upright and comfortable might very well be the key to the Cardinals chances of winning the NFC West again this season.

Key Reserves: OT Jeremy Bridges, OG Rex Hadnot, C Ben Claxton

The Cardinals offensive line is deep in the middle and thin on the edges. Hadnot comes over from the Browns, where he started six games last year. Rex will provide experience off the bench if either of the starting guards is injured. Bridges has started at both left and right tackle in the past and should be the swing tackle for this team. He has played a lot but has also been released by a lot of teams -- including by the Cardinals. Claxton is another guy that has bounced around in his career. He has played for eight teams since being drafted in 2003. Despite all of his travels, he has only entered three regular season games, so he is still a question mark.

Posted by: Ben Muth on 07 Sep 2010

63 comments, Last at 17 Sep 2010, 3:20am by Topas

Comments

1
by Key19 :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:16am

I am greatly looking forward to this column. Not only because it covers my team, but because you seem to know your stuff to a great degree. Can't wait to read the first edition!

2
by GhettoBear04 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:22am

Very interesting. I'm excited for this addition, both as a fan of the Cowboys and as a way to try to peer inside the seemingly Black Box of what many argue is the most important part of the game.

A note on Brewster. He was always viewed as a bit of a project and likely wouldn't have met the timeline you proposed anyways, but was considered worth it because of his size. He then was hurt last year, costing him significant development time. While the Cowboys have played him at both LT and RT this preseason, suggesting they'd like for him to be a swing tackle, I and many others are of the belief that he ends up as the RT in the next year or two.

Good luck to you; I hope this feature sticks.

18
by DW94 :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:20pm

I'm not sure what position Brewster will play. I thought he was being moved to G when his pectoral injury occurred, but I can't find a link to confirm this. All the scouting reports I read regarded him as G. Bryan Broaddus, someone in the local media that I actually have some trust in, suggested that he might be moved to G. Not sure if someone like Rafael Vela has any insight into this matter. So yeah, I'm confused.

27
by GhettoBear04 (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 1:17pm

I'd take his playing time in preseason games as a sign that the Cowboys are at least going to give him a chance to fail at tackle before moving him to guard. Especially with Holland healthy again.

3
by Johnny :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:26am

Awesome addition to the FO team...looking forward to future columns.

23
by Bobman :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:54pm

Yeah, but was the column title "Muthematics" already taken?

This is the website of dueling R^2 discussions...

26
by nat :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 1:09pm

Muth Ado About Blocking.
Smash-Muth Football.

It'll be a Muth-Read regardless of the name.

32
by Theo :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 2:47pm

Mayhem and a cloud of Muth.

4
by Theo :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:31am

"Dallas Cowboys
Why we chose them: Everyone loves the Cowboys this season."

Ehhhhhhhhhh... I think you mean that the people covering the NFL are up to their elbows into Jerry Jones' ass, but I will read on and pretend you didn't say that.

53
by >implying implications (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 8:48pm

Every year, no matter what: all hype.

5
by Hank (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:33am

Looking forward to more articles covering the o-line, too bad you can't devote infinite hours to the project and write about more teams.

6
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:34am

Well, I guess a welcome is in order.

I love the prospects for this column - if there's anything Cover-3 seems to lack, it's analysis of whole O-line units.

Overall the writing was great, I especially liked the Neanderthal line - the title of the column isn't half bad either.

7
by Joe T. :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:38am

Re: Redskins

Rinehart was cut and Edwin Williams was waived and picked up by the Bears.

The reserve OL are: Montgomery, Heyer, Lichtensteiger

8
by dmb :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:46am

You beat me to it. Also, those three are not just their "key" reserves; they're the team's only reserve OL, not counting players on the practice squad.

In any case, welcome Ben, and I'm very much looking forward to this series!

9
by Karyn (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:49am

I think that having in-depth offensive line discussion is both excellent and interesting, but I hope that the column can provide brief side-bars on other teams throughout the season, or even just notable plays by other teams. While I'll be interested to read knowledgeable dissection of any line, as an AFC team fan, reading about 1 of 3 NFC teams every week (2 of which are in the NFC East, which I don't follow at all) makes it a little less interesting than it could be.

But regardless I think an O-line column is a great idea and I'm looking forward to it!

56
by IAmJoe (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 2:21am

This is a really good idea, just a little side item or something, maybe just a regular MNF or SNF feature or something.

10
by Micranot (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:51am

Excellent addition, welcome!

11
by blakelock (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:58am

great idea for a column. i'm in.

12
by blakelock (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:59am

great idea. i'm in.

13
by SuperAnonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 11:59am

I'm glad you picked the Cowboys and Redskins, as we have not heard enough about these two teams who have won a combined total of two playoff games in the past decade.

14
by Temo :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:07pm

Of course, how could they forget the key "number of playoff games won" indicator which orders teams by significance? Damn it, if every article isn't about the Colts, Steelers, or Patriots, I don't want to see it!

/s

17
by SuperAnonymous (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:19pm

My point isn't that we should only talk about playoff teams, it's that the Cowboys and Redkins ALREADY receive a disproportionate amount of attention and discussion from every football media outlet in the country.

How about talking about a team like the Bills, or Jags, or Rams? Or maybe a rising team like the Falcons. Why launch a new section with more Coyboys and Redskins nauseum.

20
by bubqr :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:35pm

Did you read the article at all, you know, hwere the teams choices were explained ? Cowboys old OL is a big focus point this year, as will be the Redskins one (Top 5 pick, old Pro Bowler changing team, Protecting McNabb, "Shanahan's scheme"..).

The Bills and their current situation would not have been a good team to watch IMO, I don't see any particular storyline with the Falcons, but I agree that the Jaguars and their 2 highly drafted sophomores might have been a good subject

24
by Bobman :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 1:07pm

As a Colts fan who pays as much attention to the weekly games of the NFC as he pays to the International Contact Chess League, I thought the explanations and choices of three NFC teams were great, particularly the Skins/Boys comparisons against the same foes. Should be very insightful.
'
I agree, the Jags bookend tackles would probably be a good subject as well. Personal bias: I bet the Colts' OL would be worth a column for a couple reasons, but mainly to see if they can establish the run in any meaningful way and how/if Mudd's legacy continues....

31
by Karyn (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 2:46pm

I agree that the explanations for why teams were selected were great; my earlier post wasn't trying to accuse anyone of bias. And looking at just a few units in detail over the course of the year is a good idea since then the knowledge can build.

But that's why I suggest / hope that in addition to the detailed breakdown there can be a quick side-bar that briefly talks about one of the other 29 teams each week, even if it's just one highly profile play or drive where the offensive line played a part in the success or failure. I don't know how much extra work it would be, but selfishly I think it would be nice to hear about teams I personally care / know about every once in awhile, too.

Because I'll be honest that none of the ones listed particularly trip my fancy as teams. :)

36
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 3:21pm

I was thinking the exact same thing. A breakdown of the O-line for one great/horrible/interesting play every week would really be inciteful, but I doubt he'd have time to go through every game each week to pull out the one, most interesting play. Remember, he's back in school now. On the other hand, maybe he could take reader requests - like if the Saints clobber the old man this week, maybe enough people will send Muth "what hapened there?" e-mails to get an analysis included in next weeks column.

47
by Tim Wilson :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 6:15pm

Perhaps the Cowboys receive a disproportionate amount of coverage because there are a disproportionate amount of people who are interested in them? As opposed to, say, the Bills, who the people of upstate New York don't even seem to care about?

63
by Topas :: Fri, 09/17/2010 - 3:20am

I agree that next to nobody cares about the Bills. But the People in New York (state version) are very very passionate about there team. Read the quotes from Pennington how it feels to play there from an outside perspective ('college feeling...').

15
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:14pm

Great column, love the explanation of this stuff. Really looking forward to more of these - please cover the Pats next and let me know we won't miss Mankins.

16
by joon :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:17pm

welcome, ben. looking forward to reading this every week.

19
by bubqr :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:32pm

"I was eventually released because I was injured, and then not picked up again because I didn't block that many people when I was healthy"

That was good.

Looking forward to this column, seems like a very good addition to the FO team.

25
by Bobman :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 1:08pm

self-defecating humor is always a plus.

38
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 3:49pm

I'm going to pretend you didn't say that.

59
by Dean :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 9:34am

I just hope he showers afterwards.

21
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:37pm

Great idea, and good luck. Regarding the Cowboys, it certainly seems to me that they have been a generally poor pass blocking team for a decade or so, and that weakness has been concealed somewhat for last few years by Romo's mobility and accuracy while running. Other than the stubbled, jeans-modeling, media whore, there may have been more dumb stuff written and gabbed about the Cowboys, than any other NFL topic for the last couple years. In a league that greatly favors passing, could we wait until a team becomes above-average at pass blocking, before naming them one of the most talented teams in the league? There is a lot to like about the Cowboys talent, but not much of it is seen near the line of scrimmage as Romo receives the snap on a passing play.

48
by Tim Wilson :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 6:20pm

This is actually why I'm so glad he picked the Cowboys. As a 'Boys fan, I've been frustrated by the OL play the past couple years, both pass-blocking and run-blocking. Anytime the line has suffered more than one significant injury, it's fallen apart (both OTs in 2006, Colombo and Flozell in the NFC Divisional Game, Kosier and various others in 2008). I'm sure that would be the case with a lot of NFL teams, but it's led to an uneven experience in rooting for the Cowboys and watching this particular OL group perform.

That's why FO's high ratings on the team's run-blocking were surprising to me-- as Muth cites above, their performance in short yardage situations last year was abysmal.

So I look forward to Muth breaking down their play each week, in particular that of Leonard Davis, who has clearly become the weak link on the line and seems utterly incapable of recognizing anything more complicated than a straight ahead bull rush.

58
by DW94 :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:53am

That's why FO's high ratings on the team's run-blocking were surprising to me-- as Muth cites above, their performance in short yardage situations last year was abysmal.

I think that's because their most successful running plays the last couple of years - draws, counters, tosses - don't usually work in short yardage situations. Of course, I don't have any research to back this up. Just speculation. Although, it's something that Rafael Vela has suggested in some form.

22
by Brooks :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:39pm

Just want to add to everyone else's view that this is a fantastic addition to FO. Welcome, and I look forward to reading your column every week!

28
by tuluse :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 1:35pm

Looking forward to this article, love your style so far.

29
by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 2:38pm

Goid article about lineplay. Does Muth rhymr with tooth or puth?

33
by Theo :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 2:49pm

........ I think it's 'mud' with the 'th' of with.

35
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 3:08pm

I was thinking Mjewth, as in Phil Helmuth and mu-tate.

37
by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 3:24pm

Maybe it rhymes with "Baby Ruth" or "Dr. Ruth". Just don't ask any dirty questions about nuts.

41
by cardroo :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 3:54pm

It definitely rhymes with Ruth, although I don't think any 300 pound Neanderthal offensive linemen are ever confused with being a Baby or a Dr.

30
by Joseph :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 2:39pm

Ben--if this column continues here at FO after this year (and so far, so good judging by the comments)--will you cover 3 different teams next year?

34
by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 3:00pm

Montrae Holland is an experienced pro

So you're saying he's old?

39
by The Shooto (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 3:50pm

Ben, will you be going in depth about line play on trick plays, such as the good old Walt Harris 3rd down punt?

40
by Boots (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 3:52pm

Ah yes, the good old days of punting on 3rd and 7 or longer...

42
by KCskin (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 4:19pm

Pretty certain that Chad Rinehart is still cut from the Skins roster.

Even watching closely, things happen so fast on the Line it's tough to catch what's happening.
Who's doing what and what should they be doing is always a challenge to keep up.

Apparently it really does take one to know one.
I'm excited to have this column.

43
by Bethell (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 4:22pm

Muth is pronounced Moo-th. Like a cow, fittingly enough. He is an offensive lineman after all.

57
by nat :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 8:33am

As in
"Boris! We must capture Muth and Squirrel!"
"But how? Muth is wearing funny hat with cage on front. And Squirrel is goink to throw bomb!"

44
by cardroo :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 4:27pm

Ben, besides the technical elements of offensive line play, I would love to hear your take on what actually happens in the trenches and what types of things are being said and done. Also, what type of personality makes for a good offensive lineman?

45
by All-State FL Linebacker (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 4:41pm

Great job Ben, glad to read an insightful column from an educated and well informed former hogmollie. Looking forward to your first weeks analysis!

46
by drobviousso :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 4:59pm

Awesome. I'm really, really, looking forward to this. Even the Cowboys stuff.

49
by thehyphen (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 6:34pm

Very excited for this new feature, can't wait for the next installment. Great work, Ben.

50
by Freeman (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 7:24pm

Please discuss your love for Walt Harris and Tom Freeman. I can't wait for the autobiography.

51
by Lt. Geronimo (not verified) :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 7:57pm

Always good to see Deuce Lutui get ripped......will trading Reggie Wells hurt the team? Is 2.4 million too much for a backup guard?

52
by parttimemovieguy :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 8:00pm

Welcome! I am looking forward to your insights on the O-line. I've been watching the battle of the trenches last year, and found it fascinating. Chris Collinsworth claims that's what he watches and it tells the majority of the play. I agree with his philosophy.

Personally, I'm also really interested in the pre-snap reads, what the Center sees, how they communicate to the QB, and audibles based on the defense.

I presume you'll also comment on how certain defensive lines play against these teams?

54
by zlionsfan :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 8:57pm

Welcome, Ben! It's going to be even more difficult to call this site "Outsiders" now. :)

55
by Dales :: Tue, 09/07/2010 - 9:02pm

Looking forward to it-- and hopefully this means four times you will be explaining just how a blocking scheme failed to stop the Giants' pass rush! :-)

60
by Dean :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 9:37am

This idea looks very promising. I'm hoping you go into more depth in future columns. This seemed like it was intended as an introduction with the intent of going deeper in the future. If so, you have my attention.

Welcome aboard!

61
by AK (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 10:39am

Good Stuff Muth from your former RB AK. This guy just loves ball.

62
by JT (not verified) :: Wed, 09/08/2010 - 12:05pm

Great addition to FO, much needed perspective into the less glamourous dirty work of the NFL. I'll be reading "The Muth-Man Prophecies!"