Troy Aikman once said that the quarterback gets too much credit when the team wins and too much blame when the team loses. While the quarterback may be the most important player on a team, the offensive line is the most important group and it may, as a group, have more to do with wins and losses than the quarterback. There are several factors that influence being able to win the big one.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE AND TEAM TALENT:
When the offensive line can open holes to where the running back does not get touched until far past the line of scrimmage, and when teams put eight and nine in the box and the running back still has a big hole to run through, then third and short becomes the norm and those teams can convert a high percentage of third downs.
And when a team can convert a high percentage of third downs, a team can sustain drives. And when a team can sustain drives, it keeps the defense off the field and it can run the clock out to hold leads in the fourth quarter.
Everyone knows that success at running the ball has two components; the running back and the offensive line. Over at Football Outsiders we find out just how much the offensive line has to do with the running backs success.
One thing to keep in mind is this statement from that article:
"However, it is important to understand that these ratings only somewhat separate the offensive line from the running backs. A team with a very good running back will appear higher no matter how bad their line, and a team with a great line with appear lower if the running back is terrible."
Of all the cliches that abound in football, the one that is the best of all is "The game is won in the trenches." All others may be true to an extent, but the offensive and defensive lines are where the games are won or lost.
In the NFL the difference in talent from the top team to the bottom team is not that much because it has been orchestrated to be that way from:
- Making the strength of schedule an equalizer by having the teams that finished the previous year with the better records face other teams that finished with the better records
- By having the worst teams draft first
- By having a salary cap so the rich markets/teams won't be able to horde talent
THE TEAM IN FRONT OF YOU:
INDIVIDUAL STATS SHOULD MATTER:
"Fact: Romo has the highest fourth-quarter passer rating among active quarterbacks. And it’s not even close. His 102.1 rating is more than five points higher than the second man on the list, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers."
"As Fox graphic shared on Sunday, Romo’s 102.9 passer rating in the fourth quarter is the the highest of all time. All time — as in, better than Elway, better than Montana and better than Brady." And this...."In the past three seasons, Romo has 11 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That’s the most in the NFL."