The Unappreciated: The Offensive Line

By: Nick Vaillancourt

When thinking of players in the NFL, the players that usually come to mind are quarterbacks, running backs, defensive backs, and others that make the flashy, highlight reel plays.

These positions are featured throughout various sports networks for their incredible skills and it can be argued they are some of the most important positions on the field. Although these positions do hold significant value to the team, there is no position as important to a team’s success than the offensive line.

Having an offensive line that is on the same page for the duration of the game not only brings fear into the opposing defensive line, but also the opposing defense as a whole.

For instance, take the Buffalo Bills offensive line of the mid-1970’s.

Known as the “Electric Company,” this offensive unit helped O.J. Simpson run for over 2,000 yards in just one season. The offensive scheme had no surprises for the defense. It was merely a ground and pound offense, and defenses simply could not stop it.

The fascinating aspect of the 1973 season was that starting quarterback Joe Ferguson only attempted 164 passes during the season, completing just 44.5% of those attempts.

Even with this weak passing attack, Buffalo achieved a 9-5 record which was second in the AFC East behind the Super Bowl Champions of that year, the Miami Dolphins.

(Photo via: AP Photo/File)

Now, you might argue that defenses at the time were not as talented and held no real value in arguing that the offensive line is the most important positional group on a football team. If that is the case, turn your attention to the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990’s.

“The Great Wall of Dallas” is arguably one of the best offensive lines in the history of the NFL. It can be said that the success of the team was solely based on the offensive line obliterating defenses each and every week.

The defensive lineman of this decade were much more of a threat, consisting of guys like Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp, John Randle, and Ray Childress.

Yet, the Cowboys offensive line led the way for the league’s all-time leading rusher and became one of the most feared lines in the history of the game.  

(Photo via:

Regardless of if you agree or disagree with the argument on how the offensive line is the most important positional group on the field, it is time to put some of the spotlight on the boys in the trenches.  

Cover photo via: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

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Follow Nick Vaillancourt on Twitter: @nikvaillancourt

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