Generally speaking, there are three major things that every offensive line coach in America wants from their big guys up front; come off the ball hard and nasty, move the guy you're supposed to move, and finish blocks through the echo of the whistle.
So when I saw a note earlier this week in MMQB's article entitled The Trouble with NFL Offensive Lineman: Bad Starts and Worse Finishesabout how college offenses are contributing to the decline of offensive line play at the NFL level, I had to roll my eyes. The article blames the decline of the NFL front five on new rules stemming from the 2011 College Bargaining Agreement where players now spend less time on the field, and with less padded practices, really limiting their ability to timely acclimate to new the new schemes and expectations of the NFL.
Eight-year NFL veteran Geoff Schwartz, a former 7th-round pick out of Oregon, shared that the tempo and misdirection that college schemes rely on as big parts of the reason that guys are having trouble transitioning to the NFL game.
“In college, there is so much misdirection, and the tempo is so fast at times, you don’t even have to really block anybody because the defense is so tired,” Schwartz said. “What we’ve really lost in college is the idea of finishing. In the NFL, you have to finish to be an elite offensive lineman. In college, your goal is to get back to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball again. The mentality of not finishing in college hurts you when you get to the NFL.”
Personally, I don't buy it.
No offensive line coach in college football will tell you that they rely on tempo and misdirection in place of a physical, punishing, finishing style of play. Schemes have changed a whole lot over the years, but the premise behind being a successful offensive line unit has not, and will not.
We live in a society where people almost always want to something to put their finger on to blame, and this is just the latest example. NFL offensive line play was less than stellar in the league's opening week, so a some feel it necessary find something to label as the culprit to lay the blame on.
Blaming college football for shortcomings at the NFL level has been a popular topic for decades, and that's not likely to change. I've always been a vocal believer that instead of complaining about college not preparing players for the NFL, maybe the NFL should adjust.