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Saints' Offensive Line Strong Through Week 3

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Through 3 weeks, the Saints' offensive line has performed very well. New Left Tackle Terron Armstead and the squad appear to be adapting very well to the new running styles that the Saints are attempting to implement for 2014. However, for the line, it all starts from the inside out.

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"Let’s get professional: Great craftsmanship can come from a beautiful drive, a well-executed blitz, or even a high-arcing punt that pins a team down on the one. GMC takes great pride in the craftsmanship of its vehicles. At the quarter mark of the season, what has been the most well-crafted aspect of your team so far?"

-Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) September 24, 2014

Through 3 weeks, the Saints are struggling at 1-2.  However, despite struggles from their defense, the Saints have played very well offensively.  The Saints' offense is currently 3rd in the NFL in yardage and 6th in scoring.  And it all begins with the offensive line.

The Saints' front 5 has played very well to start out the season.  Terron Armstead has settled very well into his role at Left Tackle, and he appears to be very comfortable in the new Zone Blocking Scheme.  However, his pass protection has also been very strong.  The interior 3 linemen have performed well also, with Pro Bowlers Ben Grubbs & Jahri Evans holding down the middle.  Jonathan Goodwin went down with an injury, but second year converted guard Tim Lelito settled in well at Center in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings.  Meanwhile, Zach Strief has anchored the Saints' strong-side run game very well.

The line has also adapted not only to the ZBS, but also to catering to their backs.  The Saints aren't exclusively a ZBS running team, they change their style to fit the style of their backs.  For example, when Pierre Thomas is in the game, the Saints will run more screens and swings, along with man blocking out of the spread in order to get him into space.  When Khiry Robinson is in, it will be either man blocking or zone with a quick cut upfield.  With Mark Ingram, of course, it will be exclusively ZBS, with the occasional pass mixed in.  The Saints' line has run all of these techniques very well.

Drew Brees is having a good season throwing the ball, with nearly 900 yards through three games, and this starts up front.  He has been sacked only 3 times so far this year, and with a few exceptions has looked very comfortable in the pocket, a part of his game that is so important.  If Brees gets uncomfortable, the Saints don't succeed.  They run so many timing plays, that the slightest change in that timing can throw off the offense.

Evans and Grubbs have been perennially strong guards.  The real questions coming into the season were with a young Armstead at LT and the Center position.  The Saints' line has been a pleasant surprise thus far and, most importantly, it has meshed well as a unit.  If they can continue to spring the NO running game and protect Brees, then the season should take a positive turn very quickly.

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