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Will the Redskins’ O-Line get bigger?

Feb 25, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

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Jay Gruden has not been a head coach for very long but he seems to be as good as any of them when it comes to answering questions without giving out much information.

Last week at the NFL Combine he was asked about the offensive line a couple of times. Here is what he said the first time.

“We’re looking very closely out our scheme from last year, looking for what to carry over into next year’s playbook. Obviously, there’s some good things we did with the outside zone. That will still be part of our offense, no question about it. The key to football nowadays is being diverse. You have to be able to run the football outside zone, you have to be able to run some gap-blocking schemes and some draws. We’ll get everything introduced and figure out what we’re good at, and go from there.”

A bit later he addressed the line again:

Those are good players, but sometimes on third and eight, they get pushed back a little bit. They’ve done some great things in their career, obviously. But if you get the bigger guys that don’t move quite as well, then you lose Alfred Morris and his strength, and that’s the outside zone and the stretch and finding lanes and holes to cut through. So, it can come back and bite you if you want to go big, depending on what you’re doing. You have to get better. But I like the guys we have on our team and we can work with them.”

Much has been made out of the fact that the offensive linemen that Gruden worked with in Cincinnati were bigger than the group that started in Washington the last two seasons. But, as Gruden pointed out, bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to taking advantage of what Morris can do best.

As noted, Gruden wasn’t giving many hints about any changes he might be contemplating along the line. But it does appear that he is delivering a message to the current members of the offensive line.

Hey, Tyler Polumbus! If you want to play right tackle at 305 pounds, that’s fine. But you’d better be able to blow back the man in front of you when we need you to or I’ll find someone who can. And Kory Lichtensteiger, I can live with 284 at guard if it helps you get over and block for Alfred on the stretch plays. But you’d damn well better stonewall pass pressure when it comes up the middle. Or I’ll find someone who can.

Polumbus don’t have to turn into a Joe Jacoby-like mauler. But by adding some strength and using the right technique a smaller offensive lineman can be successful in moving a defensive end from Point A to Point B against the defender’s will. And proper technique (and perhaps some use of the quarterback’s mobility) can go a long way towards Lichtensteiger tightening up the blocking on those third and eight plays.

  1. internetcareer - Feb 25, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    well we will have some idea of the plan in 2 weeks when free agency begins. Our first clue will be if the Skins Replace one of the interior offensive linemen with a MASSIVE free agent.

    • shermanp79 - Feb 25, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      I think they have to make changes up the middle. Polumbus only gave up 4 sacks compared to Williams who gave up 8. Now he was hurt and continued to play plus he goes up against top pass rushers I think we need a new C and at least one G. I hope Hurt who is bigger can win a starting spot. I don’t think Gettis stays he is small and If they keep smaller guys it would prob be last years starters. I know we don’t want to lose the stretch where Morris is the most effective but it would be easier to find a different back than to find a new franchise QB. Truthfully I don’t care which way they go but in passing situations the middle of your line can’t be getting run over every time. It would benefit us if the guys we have got better, it would be less change. I just worry with more WR routes and a more open attack the guys there won’t get it done. For RG3’s health it needs to be corrected and corrected this year. I said in another past post, maybe we can trade a guy or two?. The line was better in 2012 than last year RG3 was holding the ball longer and I don’t think Cousins was sacked that much. There still was pressure up the middle I remember in the last game the Giants were in the backfield a lot with pressure. It will be interesting what their plan is not only the line but the team as a whole. I am looking forward to see how they put this team together. Protecting RG3 has to be a priority.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 25, 2014 at 5:07 PM

        Did you ever think that Polumbus only gave up 4 sack because he is on the side the QB can see it coming and can get rid of the ball?

        • jaxjoe - Feb 26, 2014 at 3:57 PM

          I can’t recall if it was ProFootballFocus or Football Outsiders that ranked the Skins O-line third bet in the league. Crazy. But their analysis showed our Aqaba had plenty of time to throw. Obviously our run blocking was superb. Also our receiving corps ranks near the bottom in DVAR and catch percentage. But I do believe one guard and the RT can and should be upgraded. I believe a top vet receiver would go a long ways in reducing the sacks.

      • jaxjoe - Feb 26, 2014 at 3:49 PM

        Well said. I keep forgetting we have Hurt

    • kenlinkins - Feb 25, 2014 at 1:30 PM

      I agree 100%, I for one have been looking at the draft way to much. Are first clues will be which one of our Free Agents we keep, 2nd clue will be which Free Agents we sign from other teams. This should give us some idea of what the GM and new coach have in mind for 2014.

  2. kenlinkins - Feb 25, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    Is this a smoke screen? As soon as I read it I run another Draft simulator: G D. Yankey (Stan), OT J. James (Tenn), WR D Moncriff (Miss), WR D. Street (Pitt), SS H Smith (Lou), CB Phillip Gains (Rice). I think there are 3 starters in 2014 unless Coach Gruden is not telling the truth which would mean we would have new back ups on O-line). Also, I really like Phillip Gains, he is a project at CB but would play Special teams in 2014. (and if I get a 4th starter in H Smith at Safety we are in big trouble).

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 25, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      I know draft simulators are fun but I would put zero stock in the results. Do the people putting it together really know the needs and draft strategies of all 32 teams? Specifically on the Redskins, do they have any clue how a first-time head coach and a GM with final say for the first time are going to proceed?

      Seriously, if you base anything on those you’re heading in the wrong direction.

    • captblood3000 - Feb 25, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      I checked out one of these and I won’t put much stock in it either. It showed Aaron Donald (DT, Alabama) available at #34 and Morgan Moses (OT, UVa) available at #96, both of whom I would gladly take with those picks. It had the Redskins picking Zack Martin (OL, Notre Dame) at #34. All you get from these or any mock draft is an idea of the quality of players who will be available when the Redskins pick. And mock drafts make some assumptions about front offices, like Dallas defies logic and the Ravens and Patriots make the best picks. These are generalizations at best; even blind squirrels find nuts sometimes.

      We won’t know the Redskins Big Board and won’t see the results of it until the Draft.

      That said, I’m cautiously optimistic about this draft. Assuming that the Redskins franchise or resign Orakpo, they are in decent shape at all the positions where teams reach in the draft, though I hope they address more areas of need in free agency. If they pick the Best Player Available at #34, they will likely get a player ranked in the low 20s on their board (and don’t be surprised if this is a tight end). And they can replay that scenario through round 5 (pick #130), drafting for talent because they have so many needs.

      • jaxjoe - Feb 26, 2014 at 4:10 PM

        I too am optimistic about this draft. I feel the stock of players fits our needs the most. Since we have our skill positions settled (QB, LT, OLB, CB) we won’t necessarily need a 1st round pick. Our needs are typically addressed in the 2nd and 3rd rounds like OG, RT, 3-4 DE, Safety, nickel DB. We could walk away with three starters in rounds 2-4.

    • jaxjoe - Feb 26, 2014 at 3:52 PM

      I can’t imagine drafting a safety and starting him along side Phil Thomas, who is by all means another rookie. This is why I haven’t selected any safeties in my drafts.

  3. kenlinkins - Feb 25, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Rich, you have made your point again, What do you think the Redskins are doing right after the Combine?

  4. alextwrs - Feb 25, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    I like what you say about getting a new starting center and guard. That is definitely the weakness of the o line. We have all seen what a rookie center can do with the pounceys of the world out there. I know they were taken pretty high but I think we can find an immediate starting interior lineman out of the draft. Polum should develop and some other FA or rookie should compete with him. Between chester and Lich, I like Lich he seems to move better.

  5. alextwrs - Feb 25, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    Rich, the redskins.com website as of 2/25/14 says Josh Wilson is on the roster along with other notables that have been cut like Josh Morgan, anywhere I can find an updated roster. This way you dont have to tell me they are cut or FA.

  6. alextwrs - Feb 25, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    Rich, my buddy and I were trying to figure out the Tanard Jackson situation as well. From what we understand he was cleared from the suspension before the first week of the 2013 season, yet the league would not let him play. I know this info is wrong thats why I am looking for answers, we thought he could have helped the Safety situation last year.

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 25, 2014 at 3:24 PM

      Jackson was eligible to be reinstated after a year (start of 2013 season) but he was not. That’s up to the league and confidentially prohibits them from explaining why or why not they have ended a suspension. Bottom line, it’s an indefinite suspension and it continues. He should not be considered to be part of the picture.

      • alextwrs - Feb 25, 2014 at 3:27 PM

        Wow, that really hurt our options, I didnt know he had that many infractions that the league would hold him back from making a living. Wait, dont tell me we were paying him?

  7. alextwrs - Feb 25, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    Thanks

  8. colmac69 - Feb 25, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    We sometimes forget that last yr the skins ranked first in rushing then top ten this yr with a line thats been criticised from pillar to post…is there weakness in aspects of their play definitely for sure but is making 2, 3 changes going to solve the issues?if u can read between the lines of gruden comments then it would appear that changes initially will b minimal but with a warning that current line will nd to step up their game..would like to think young linemen like Compton. .gettis..leribius will b in better position to challenge for starting role…its an area we have struggled to develope players at for countless yrs…

    • jaxjoe - Feb 26, 2014 at 4:31 PM

      Last year’s weakness was third-down conversion and red-zone scoring. In my small opinion, the two O-line blocking schema in both are opposite, Third-down requires sustained pass blocking whereas goal-to-go blocking is more of a power scheme, of which our line is obviously inadequate. I think the third-down woes can be improved with a better wide receiver corps, likely a possession guy like an Art Monk type. The outside zone running won’t produce many TDs so it’s likely a beefier line will be needed. And Lich, at a mere 284 lbs is a good starting point. But he’s such an over-achiever. I’d keep him on the roster but give LeRib, Gettis, or Hurt a try. Now that the infamous Shanahan doghouse days are behind us I think we will

  9. timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 25, 2014 at 5:10 PM

    I’m happy to see that everyone is finally starting to see that the O-LINE’s PASS BLOCKING was the Problem last year

    • Rich Tandler - Feb 25, 2014 at 5:13 PM

      The blocking wasn’t great. But PFF charged 10 of RG3’s 38 sacks to RG3. I didn’t check that on film or anything but it isn’t too far off. He held on to the ball too long too often.

      > >

      • alextwrs - Feb 25, 2014 at 9:28 PM

        Nice little stat there Rich.

      • timwillhidetimwillhide - Feb 25, 2014 at 9:33 PM

        It sure didn’t pass the Eyeball test.

  10. eataylor87 - Feb 26, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Rich. Two names: Anthony Collins and Geoff Schwartz

    • eataylor87 - Feb 26, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Actually, Rich, three names. Anthony Collins, Geoff Schwartz and 3rd round pick Cyril Richardson/Gabe Jackson.

      Talk about adding some athletic maulers on the line. Get ‘er done Jay.

  11. jaxjoe - Feb 26, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    The other issue is $$$. You can replace Lich and Chester and save > $10 mil. Footbal Outsiders has Chester as the least performing and Lich is too small. You should be able to draft a starting guard with the 2nd pick and elevate either LeRib or Gettis and get arguably better production while saving big bucks.

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