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Just How Important Is A Left Tackle Anyway?

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KC Joyner, football scientist and author of Blindsided: Why the Left Tackle is Overrated and Other Contrarian Football Thoughts came out with a column on ESPN Insider today about, you guessed it, the overratedness of the left tackle!  Since I'm assuming some of you can't read the whole thing, I'll summarize: the way teams spend draft picks and the recent history of successful teams is disproving the notion laid out in Michael Lewis' The Blind Side that left tackles are the most important position on the offensive line. For an example, Joyner uses the recent Jamaal Brown trade:

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First, New Orleans ended up allowing the fourth fewest sacks (20) in the league last year despite playing former fourth round selection Jermon Bushrod as Drew Brees' blindside protector. The Saints' pass blocking held up quite well even though they had a backup at the key pass blocking position.

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Second, according to my game breakdowns, Bushrod was responsible for seven of the 20 sacks. This means he allowed more than one-third of the Saints sacks, yet they still didn't have an issue with letting go of an elite talent at that position.

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He then goes on to cite the lack of interest of the Chargers in solving the contract dispute with Marcus McNeil and the lack of a trade market for Jared Gaither at the cost of a second round pick as further data points.

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So how is this relevant to the Texans? Duane Brown has hardly been a dominant pass blocker in his first two years on the job, and this gives me optimism that even if the Texans don't see improvement from him this year, they may be alright after all. Of course, the scheme that the Texans run doesn't let Schaub step up into the pocket quite as often as Drew Brees does for the Saints, and so that makes Brown a little more important than Bushrod, but it's good to see recent history prove that the Texans don't NEED to go find a dominant left tackle to win, even if it would be nice.

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