RZL All-Decade Team – 2010s (Offensive Tackles)
This is the next article in what has become a long series of articles. In an effort to explore our league’s history, I’m developing an All-Decade team for the years 2010 to 2019. To do so I have had to sift through a lot of our archives, so it’s likely there are some errors. At the same time, we have a very rich history with many talented players. So it’s very likely that a few were excluded that some think should be included, especially since each of us may value some elements of the game over others. Either way, this series is meant to be fun and enlightening. I hope you enjoy.
For the Tackles, I chose 4 players to represent the All-Decade Team. Of course with the rich history of linemen we have, picking only 4 was tough. But most teams carry 4 OTs, so the All-Decade team will as well. Here’s a big disclaimer on the OTs (and all Offensive Linemen in this series): Our league has a nice tradition of moving lineman around quite liberally. A team needs a Center? Get a veteran Tackle on his last legs and repurpose him into an interior lineman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it gets tricky when trying figure out who played what. So for this I’ve pretty much gone off of the Pro Bowl listings. For example, I’m pretty sure Marcus McNeil was a Tackle in 2011 when he made the Pro Bowl. But he’s listed on the site as a Guard, probably because he was moved inside later in his career. Or maybe not – who knows? Same with D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Oh well – I’m doing the best that I can. As always there were an embarrassment of quality players left off the list (see Others Considered).
Here are the Offensive Tackles of the Decade
Robert Gallery (Raiders, 2010-2017; Patriots, 2018). No lineman on this list was easier to pick than Robert Gallery. Gallery finished with over 1,000 pancakes in the Decade, 3rd best during that period. But he’s also the only player to have 2 Best OL Awards. He definitely earned it. In 2014 he set a league record for 145 pancakes (against only 2 sacks) – a record that still stands. His play in 2010 was almost as impressive – 115 pancakes and only 1 sack allowed. 2016 wasn’t too shabby either: 135 pancakes and only 3 sacks allowed. Gallery also has the record for most pancakes in a game with 21. Wow. Gallery is also one of only two Tackles to finish in the Top 5 in pancakes in 4 different seasons.
Pancakes/Sacks Allowed (Ratio): 1032 pancakes (3rd in Decade)/32 sacks (26.5)
Pro Bowls: 5 (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016)
Awards: 2014 Best OL, 2016 Best OL
League Leader in Pancakes: 2014
Top 5 in Pancakes: 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016
Games with 10 or more Pancakes: 26
Sam Baker (Chargers, 2010-2019). Has there ever been a better set of bookend Tackles than Sam Baker and Jake Long? Long *just* missed the All-Decade team, but Baker does a fine job of representing the Chargers on his own. No one had more pancakes during the Decade than Sam Baker. Baker had 6 seasons of 100+ pancakes in the Decade, and the other 4 were all 90+. His best season came in 2013 when he had 126 pancakes and only 1 sack allowed and was named Best OL of the Year. Also, Baker had more Kickoff Return yards than any other Tackle on this list. Yep, in a 2017 contest against the Jags, Baker had a tidy little 19 yard kickoff return. Not bad.
Pancakes/Sacks Allowed (Ratio): 1078 Pancakes (1st in the Decade)/44 sacks (24.5)
Pro Bowls: 5 (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016)
Awards: 2013 Best OL
League Leader in Pancakes: None.
Top 5 in Pancakes: 2011, 2013, 2014
Games with 10 or more Pancakes: 20
Doug Free (Saints, 2010-2017; Broncos, 2018; Patriots, 2019). Doug Free was one of the better blockers in league history, as his 1,042 pancakes indicates. That total represents the 2nd best for the entire Decade. What’s more, his 32.6 pancake/sack ratio is the best on this list – by a long shot. Free’s best years were from 2010-2015. During that period he allowed only 11 sacks and recorded 655 pancakes. Though his 2019 season in New England was pretty impressive as well: 132 pancakes and 3 sacks allowed. Free only had 1 bad season, a forgettable 2018 in Denver where he allowed 14 sacks and had 94 pancakes. Taking away that season, he averaged 105 pancakes and 2 sacks allowed for the Decade.
Pancakes/Sacks Allowed (Ratio): 1042 Pancakes (2nd in the Decade)/32 sacks (32.6)
Pro Bowls: 4 (2013, 2014, 2015, 2019)
Awards: 2015 Best OL
League Leader in Pancakes: None.
Top 5 in Pancakes: 2013, 2015, 2019
Games with 10 or more Pancakes: 30
Joe Thomas (Seahawks, 2010-2019). In one sense, Joe Thomas could have been the easiest to put on this list. The man has more Pro Bowls at the position than anyone else. How could you leave him off? What’s confounding about Thomas is that during that time being dominant enough to be selected so many times to the Pro Bowl, he didn’t manage to win a single award or lead the league in pancakes. In fact, he only finished in the Top 5 on one occasion. So Thomas was hard to include, but ultimately won his spot on the All-Decade team. This is not to say he didn’t have a celebrated career. Thomas have 4 seasons of 100 or more pancakes and 2 more of 99. His 2017 season with 99 pancakes and 0 sacks allowed was incredibly impressive, the 3rd highest pancakes in the Decade without a sack allowed.
Pancakes/Sacks Allowed (Ratio): 1008 Pancakes (4th in the Decade)/44 sacks (22.9)
Pro Bowls: 6 (2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018)
League Leader in Pancakes: None.
Top 5 in Pancakes: 2018
Games with 10 or more Pancakes: 22
Others Considered: How good was Jake Long? He made 4 Pro Bowls and finished in the Top 5 in pancakes 4 different times…Jason Smith is another exceptional Tackle who just missed the All-Decade team. His 4 Pro Bowls and 3 Top 5 finishes is a testament to his success…Joe Staley and Lance Louis are two Tackles who both have the distinction of going to 4 Pro Bowls, but never having won an Award or finished in the Top 5 in pancakes…One player I wasn’t really too familiar with that was considered was Lorenzo Leon. Leon played for 3 teams during the Decade but did his best work in Seattle….Barry Richardson spent his entire career with the Giants and was never flashy but did enough to be selected for 4 Pro Bowls…Jamaal Brown won the Best OL Award in 2010 but made only 2 Pro Bowls. His 108 pancakes/0 sacks allowed remains one of the best ever…Likewise, Carl Nicks was hard to keep off the list. Nicks had a respectable 3 Pro Bowls and was the Best OL in 2018. His 118 pancake/0 sacks allowed season was the best ever at the time…Alex Barron had a stellar career that included 3 Pro Bowls, a Best OL Award, a season where he lead the league in Pancakes and 3 Top 5 finishes...Marcus McNeill very easily could have been included on the All-Decade team. Though he only had 2 Pro Bowls appearances, he ended up with 1,000 pancakes and finished in the Top 5 six different times, more than anyone. McNeil also played OG so it's hard to tell when he did what...Likewise, D'Brickashaw Ferguson deserves consideration, even though at some point he was moved to Guard. Ferguson went to 3 Pro Bowls, won a Best OL Award, finished in the Top 5 in pancakes five times and had a tremendous 32.5 pancake ratio.