ORIGINAL: Dave Odle
A lot of really good points made here. OL is indeed a problem. Also, that was a good catch about our skill positions like Rudolph and Treadwell and how they hold us back from being a truly high octane offense w/ so many weapons. Think NO or the Rams. They simply overwhelm opponents because the offense is so stacked. For example, NO is quite possibly going to win it all this year, IMO. Between Brees, Kamara, and Thomas, they have assembled a lethal combination. It's pick your poison in covering them all efficiently play after play.
Rudolph needs to share some time w/ a better field-stretching TE. OJ Howard was really starting to come on before his injury. A guy like that would be awesome. Mayfield is starting to develop some chemistry w/ Njowku in Cleveland. The point is that our offense is lacking that second tier of being elite.
OL is a mess. Reiff has been hurt and not even playing that great when he's on the field. Remmers is underwhelming. Rashod Hill is just a backup. Nothing more. That leaves Elflien, who really is a key player to build around. Being injured for the first half of the season hurt, though. There are two trains of thought here. One is that their injuries prevented them from gaining chemistry during the regular season. It's just different from preseason games and training camp. They were decent last year (at least competent in run and pass blocking). Which leads me to the second thought. Perhaps Keenum rolling out and making so many big plays through broken plays and sandlot football made our O-line look better than they were. It gained them the advantage of being able to block people in space instead of being bull rushed at the line, requiring more physical play. Now that Cousins is the QB, we see a more traditional pocket QB style offense that relies way less in a QB using his feet to scramble and make plays on the run. Because of that, there is way more trench battle at the line that we are, quite frankly, losing. We just don't seem very physical, IMO.
Any thoughts on Brian O'neill?
Some good talk about the offensive line lately, no wonder, it's a unit that needs an influx of talent, but it's not a unit that is absent of talent. It looks like O'Neil is holding up pretty well given his strength issues. When we got him it was evident he needed a couple years of strength condition to get to NFL strength, that is also true about Elf, but he hasn't been healthy enough to really get after it in the weight room and that shows up on the field from time to time. Isidora was also a guy that needed to gain strength, but in the three years he's been here, he hasn't done it. He's the road grader type we have been talking about, but without the strength, his tough attitude only gets him a backup spot. We needed him to take interest, but as with all players in the NFL, if you don't have the heart, you won't reach maximum potential. That is what is so tough about picking guys in the draft, you can have all the measurable's you want, but you can't measure heart, guys like Diggs and AT would have been first rounders if there was a way to project heart.
I think we have three, NFL caliber, offensive line starters on this team, they are all out there playing now, one is a second year center and the other a first year Tackle. Rief is the other and the rest are backups. The jury is still out on whether Easton can come back and play effectively. So at a minimum, we need two starting caliber Guards. Draft one and buy one, pick one later in the fourth or fifth for depth and cross your fingers you get two solid guys out of the four (Easton coming back being the fourth).
This year, it is what it is. Scheme around it and go as far as you can, but understand we can only get s much out of these guys, they are probably doing the best they can. RS has tried to address this problem, it just hasn't worked out like he hoped. I bet he was like me when he drafted Isidora, give him a year or two and he will be a monster in there, it just didn't happen. He's nasty enough, just not strong enough, he had the chance to prove himself, just didn't do it. The NFL is full of guys that had chances, some made it some didn't, that's life in the NFL.