Bill Polian: NFL offensive line play ‘worst in my memory’

Bill Polian thinks the reason for poor offensive line play in the NFL is clear.

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SiriusXM Editor
September 19, 2017

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) is sacked by Detroit Lions’ Jarrad Davis (40) during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J.

It has only been two weeks, and already one of the major topics of the NFL season is the struggles of multiple offensive lines.

Never was that more evident than in the New York Giants’ loss against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. The Giants’ offensive line performed terribly, leading to Eli Manning and the rest of their passing game having little or no chance to make plays.

‘Most importantly, they can’t develop in the offseason’

Bill Polian thinks the reason is clear. The Hall-of-Fame NFL general manager and SiriusXM NFL Radio co-host sees the basic problem as a lack of practice time during the offseason, in accordance with the rules of the league’s collective bargaining agreement with its players.

“And, as a result, you end up, because they can’t practice, develop as young players, because they’re coming out of college systems that are diametrically opposed to what we do in the NFL,” Polian said on Late Hits with Alex Marvez. “And they can’t develop during the season, because you can’t put them in pads, and most importantly, they can’t develop in the offseason because during OTAs, they can’t be in pads, which I don’t think they need to be. But they do need to work one-on-one against defensive linemen.

‘I have never seen tackles, particularly, whiff the way they do now’

“That doesn’t have to be a kill-you tempo. It doesn’t even have to be a contact tempo. But it’s forbidden by the collective bargaining agreement and it is directly responsible for the quality of offensive line play we have in the league now, which is the worst in my memory. I have never seen tackles, particularly, whiff the way they do now. It’s pathetic in many ways.”

Polian thinks the NFL and the NFL Players Association can take a lesson from the career of one of the game’s all-time great tackles, Joe Thomas.

‘Joe Thomas … just like batting practice, he went out there every day and practiced his trade’

“The bottom line here is something has to be done to improve to technique and the repetitions available, particularly for young offensive linemen coming into the league,” Polian said. “And it’s no secret, albeit Joe Thomas’ great ability, that he developed really well as a player because he had OTAs where, just like batting practice, he went out there every day and practiced his trade. It wasn’t in pads, it wasn’t full go, but he practiced his trade, his honed his craft. And they can’t do it anymore. It’s that simple.”