Ryan Ramczyk may be the Saints true offensive MVP
The New Orleans Saints had been known as a finesse team in some general circles since Sean Payton was hired as the team's head coach in 2006. While that has always been a ridiculous misconception, it was due in some part because of the Saints' historical offensive proficiency behind future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees over the last thirteen seasons. The reality is that Payton's best teams have always had hard-nosed physical players on both sides of the ball.
Over the last two seasons though, even the common assumption around this team has shifted. New Orleans now wins just as many games by simply beating up opponents on both sides of the as they do with their offensive diversity and accuracy of their iconic quarterback. The Saints have re-built both their offensive and defensive lines in the last few years to dominate the opposition. One big piece of this identity makeover was a major addition to the offensive line, coming courtesy of the 2017 draft.
The Saints used the 32nd overall pick of the 1st round in 2017, obtained from the New England Patriots in exchange for wideout Brandin Cooks, on offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk from Wisconsin. Ramczyk started every game of his rookie campaign, first as an injury replacement at left tackle, then moving to right tackle to replace the injured Zach Strief. The 6'6 314-lb. lineman has been a mainstay on the right side since, missing only one game in his career and playing every snap of the 2019 season so far.
He was voted onto the 2017 NFL All-Rookie team and combines with left tackle Terron Armstead to make up arguably the finest tandem of offensive tackles in the league. Although he possesses great strength at the point of attack, Ramczyk is more than just a mauler. He is an outstanding technician, using great footwork and leverage to combat speed rushers and good athleticism to get to the second level as a run blocker.
J.J. Watt of the Texans, Jadeveon Clowney of the Seahawks, Dante Fowler of the Rams, Shaquil Barrett of the Buccaneers. Those are just a few of the defensive ends and edge rushers the New Orleans Saints have faced this season. The cumulative numbers for these Pro Bowl-caliber defenders against New Orleans have been 9 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 quarterback hits, and very few pressures. Ramczyk and Armstead both have dominated edge defenders, often allowing the Saints offense to dictate the pace of the game. Many believed the New Orleans offense would struggle when Brees went down for a projected 6-8 games with a thumb injury.
While the offense may not be its normal machine-like self, the performance of the entire offensive line has kept them productive enough for three straight victories without their Brees behind center. Backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has played efficiently, while wideout Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara have remained as productive as any offensive player in the league.
Ryan Ramczyk has been the most consistent player on this elite New Orleans line though, a group that paves the way for a balanced attack. Ramczyk has not only kept his quarterback upright but has set the edge beautifully for Kamara and the running game. He and Armstead face another challenge in a talented edge trio for the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend. Odds are that Ramczyk and his linemates will again win the battle upfront. The third-year pro may not yet be a household name, but Ryan Ramczyk is playing like a superstar, dominating defenders as the Saints impose their will on the rest of the league