One of the biggest question marks for the New Orleans Saints heading into the 2014 season has been the offensive line. While they are returning a few of their usual heavyweights, there are a couple of holes, namely center and left tackle, that give fans cause for concern. But the Saints have done an adequate job of addressing this issues at least on the surface.
With the Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans returning at the guard positions, the Saints already begin with one of the best interior lines in the league. The two big men have seven Pro Bowls between them and have been dominant through the majority of their respective careers. Grubbs did start out slow at the beginning of last season, but he’s still half of the best guard duo in the NFL.
Zach Strief also offers stability at the right tackle position. Since earning his starting job in 2011, he has improved every year and has become a key player on the Saints offense. But it’s the other tackle position that raises concern. Charles Brown was benched last year in favor of Terron Armstead, which came as a surprise to many. Though Armstead struggled early, he showed flashes of athleticism that is rare in tackles. He’s not going to be one of the best guys in the league, but fans should feel safe with him protecting Drew Brees‘ blindside.
The biggest area of concern is at the center position. Before the signing of veteran Jonathan Goodwin, it looked like Tim Lelito would run away with the job. But now there’s a bit of competition, and rightfully so. Each player brings different skills to the table. Lelito is a younger guy with sub experience, but Goodwin has been with the team before and has been a solid center for years, though he’s shown signs of age. Don’t expect Matt Armstrong to go down without a fight, either.
Odds are Goodwin will get the start at center, Lelito will continue to plug holes as needed and Armstrong will be sit in the backup role. But, regardless of what they do, the Saints have patched together a pretty good offensive line. They won’t be the best in the league, but they’re going to get the job done.