The Cleveland Browns offensive line has slowly pulled itself together through the first five weeks of the regular season.
Sure, there have been bumps along the way - most notably last Sunday as tackles Desmond Harrison and Chris Hubbard struggled against the Baltimore Ravens - but the unit has been sound for the most part.
The line’s play has landed the group in the upper half of the weekly rankings at Pro Football Focus, which places the Browns at No. 13 this week:
J.C. Tretter has been your highest-graded Browns offensive lineman so far with a 74.5 overall grade. He’s been one of the most consistent pass-protecting centers in the league over the course of his career with four straight seasons now with 80-plus pass-block grades.
Having a solid offensive is good news, especially for quarterback Baker Mayfield, but it is the Browns defensive line that may be the true beneficiaries this Sunday when the Browns host the Los Angeles Chargers.
That is because Pro Football Focus has the Chargers sitting at No. 25 in their rankings, with left guard Dan Feeney bringing up the rear with a grade of 38.6:
The Mike Pouncey signing has shored up one position along the offensive line even if they still have a handful of holes. He’s allowed only two hurries so far and is on pace to allow over 30 fewer pressures than Spencer Pulley did a season ago.
The news is even better as left tackle Russell Okung (groin), Pouncey (knee), along with backup tackle Joe Barksdale (knee) have all been limited in practice this week, according to the Chargers website.
A weak offensive line, with two starters dealing with injuries, is a perfect recipe for the Browns to unleash defensive ends Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah, along with defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, in a quest to make it a long afternoon for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
Much like the game against the Oakland Raiders, however, the Browns will have to deal with Rivers getting rid of the ball quickly, as Ogunjobi explained on Thursday, via the team’s website:
“He is a veteran. He gets the ball out really quick. A lot of teams – same with last week – you see an O line that does not give up many sacks, and you wonder if they are really stout or is it more that the quarterback is just getting the ball out so fast. That is what Philip is really good at is getting the ball out really fast.”
If the Browns can exploit the Chargers offensive line and get to Rivers, however, it will go a long way toward helping the Browns remain unbeaten on the season at FirstEnergy Stadium.