Om Field: What if the Offensive Line Doesn't Suck?

One of many experimental iterations ...

Om

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Now don’t get all crazy on me, but what if the 2010 Redskins offensive line this season turns out to be, you know ... good?

Most Redskins observers—bloggers, media, Clavins at the bar—have preached for what seems a very a long time that the offensive line has been and remains a glaring team weakness. And given how ugly it has gotten on the field at times, there is still plenty of echoing evidence to support the notion.

The new regime at Redskins Park this offseason certainly seemed to "get it," saying early on that the lines were going to be a priority. It seemed logical enough to conclude that they would hit the ground running in free agency and the draft to restock the offensive line.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to their first training camp. They really didn’t ...


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SNF

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Nice article. I also am hoping for the best and assuming they know what they're doing. It does currently look a bit scary though. I still seem to be expecting a trade, or at least a solid vet signing after a late cut from a team with a deep OL.
 

mugsy27

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i have felt the O line wasnt nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be for quite a while now.

in fact...i would say that 90% of their ineptitude can be laid at the hand of jason campbell.

that line looked just fine and at times EXCEPTIONAL with the likes of todd collins and scott brunell calling the shots.

jason campbell and jim zorn were the perfect combo of no talent and stupid..and it all presented itself in the form of piss poor O line play.

i will go on record right now and say we are going to be ok if we stand pat.
 

China

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That's an awful lot of "What ifs." Although to be fair, I think there is a lower potential for injury with this bunch with Thomas and Samuels gone, and the chemistry/time spent together/lack of line shuffling alone will benefit the line, not to mention a better coaching staff.

I guess that's why despite all the possible negatives I remain cautiously optimistic about the line. Well, that and I think it must be in the nature of all Redskin fans, if not all football fans, to have some optimism that this year will be better when their team has come off a bad year.
 

Om

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To me there's only one "what if" on this one, brother:

"What if" the brain trust really does know something we don't and the line turns out not to suck? The rest of my fantasy bullet-points were intended as possible reactions to/results OF such a crazy, random happenstance. :)
 

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I would point out that if we go with the proposed starting line in this article we will have still replaced 3/5ths of last years group from opening day. No small number there. In no way will this be the "same" line IF those starters stay healthy either.

And of course, that has always been the issue hasn't it? Health.

There are a lot of "what if's" tied to the health of Chris Samuels, Jon Jansen and Randy Thomas over the past 4-5 years and I think those same "what ifs" are tied to this year's line. I know I am not excited about the thought of Trent Williams going down with season ending injury.

I also thought that we might finally have found a RG late last year when Buges went with and stuck with Mike Williams in that spot. It appears that might have been a correct thought so while we replaced the starter there, we did it with a body already under contract and on the roster.

There is also the small matter of this being a bad year for Free Agents of any sort. Most of the guys we might have liked to add to the starting lineup where restricted making them worth draft picks we already didn't have enough of or ended up with bigger paydays than their play or current age deemed wise.

So to sum up, I think a lot of factors are in play with this line. It is better than previously thought, McNabb likely makes it better yet, some of last years late season answers look even better now, added a high first round pick to the mix and added a versatile FA guy who could be a surprise starter.

I doubt very much the coaches and FO are completely happy with what we have now though. More likely, they are as happy as they can be under the current circumstances and will look to do more upgrades next off season as well.
 
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servumtuum

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To me there's only one "what if" on this one, brother:

"What if" the brain trust really does know something we don't and the line turns out not to suck? The rest of my fantasy bullet-points were intended as possible reactions to/results OF such a crazy, random happenstance. :)
Interesting read, Om. I have taken a cautiously optimistic position myself simply because I have more confidence in the current coaching staff than I've had in quite a while. Shanahan does have a reputation for getting results from players beyond what observers may have expected based on their perceptions of what the players were capable of doing.
 

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Actually, given the additions to the line in key areas I think it's a pretty safe bet they won't suck. However, I don't expect them to be really good either. I think what's most likely is that they'll hold their own for a while and then as Williams gets more experience and they all get more time in the scheme, the line will hopefully gel into an average to slightly above average line.

Of course that's an assessment made with boatloads of hope and 10 crossed fingers. It's also possible that Williams ends up a bust and Hicks has nothing left in the tank but fumes, in which case I really feel sorry for McNabb...and us. :paranoid:
 

kirbster

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I have a feeling that by mid to late this season, this line will be pretty good, and improving weekly (barring significant injuries). The coaching alone will improve them. And Donovan will make a huge difference, finally causing the Campbell apologists to shut up.
 

The Burgundy Ghost

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Well,
If Mcnabb stays healthy and Portis can have about 1,200 on the season with the other guys getting 1,000+ or more combined thanks to the O-line, this team could be very scary.


They aren't there yet and I still think we have some tweaking to do but it is all in the realm of possibility if the O-line can stay healthy and Williams, Hicks and BMW can all step up and have solid seasons.
 

Elephant

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This sort of optimism concerns me. I have fallen into the, "I think they could surprise everybody and make a run at the Division Title" (Not so naive to say Super Bowl, but Division). When Gibbs came back, I just sat back when everyone was saying, "Address the line!", thinking Joe Gibbs and Joe Bugel know best.

After seeing what the Offensive line looked like last year, (I do say they flat out sucked regardless of Jason Campbell's inabilities), I am not one to simply accept the coaches deserve the benefit of the doubt because he knows best. Trent Williams is an automatic upgrade, but where? Is he going to play LT? Or will we go after a veteran before the season starts and play him at LT? Is Selvish a diamond in the rough who could break out? Will either Williams step up? Can Rabach be more successful with some help at the RT position? Is the journeyman Hicks going to be anything more than depth? Fanaika? Who is Eric Cook? Heyer has proven he is nothing more than a solid backup at best. Rheinhart seemed to progress until his injury, can he develop?

There are just too many questions at O-line for me to be optimistic. It may even have less to do with the questions at O-line as my fear of being optimistic only to be crushed by another disastrous season where I allowed myself to buy into the hype. The first season coach Gibbs came back was the worst year as a Redskin fan for me because I saw so much hope. I guess I have simply developed the wait and see approach. I remain guarded!
 

Goaldeje

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Ah, ELephant... Spoken like a true fan who has had the life crushed out of him multiple times. You sound just like my wife before the Sox won inn 04. In fact, she still sounds like that, come to think of it.

:)

I personally hope OM is right, but fear he is not. There are some encouraging signs, but I suspect the reason we haven't made more moves is more a product of our inability to do so due to limited draft picks and a crappy FA market than our satisfaction with the line as currently constituted. Getting a pro QB in McNabb can only help, as I remember m throwing it in the dirt far more often than holding it for half an hour while the rush comes. That alone will improve things.

I'm just not sure how much.


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Sarge

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This sort of optimism concerns me. I have fallen into the, "I think they could surprise everybody and make a run at the Division Title" (Not so naive to say Super Bowl, but Division). When Gibbs came back, I just sat back when everyone was saying, "Address the line!", thinking Joe Gibbs and Joe Bugel know best.

After seeing what the Offensive line looked like last year, (I do say they flat out sucked regardless of Jason Campbell's inabilities), I am not one to simply accept the coaches deserve the benefit of the doubt because he knows best. Trent Williams is an automatic upgrade, but where? Is he going to play LT? Or will we go after a veteran before the season starts and play him at LT? Is Selvish a diamond in the rough who could break out? Will either Williams step up? Can Rabach be more successful with some help at the RT position? Is the journeyman Hicks going to be anything more than depth? Fanaika? Who is Eric Cook? Heyer has proven he is nothing more than a solid backup at best. Rheinhart seemed to progress until his injury, can he develop?

There are just too many questions at O-line for me to be optimistic. It may even have less to do with the questions at O-line as my fear of being optimistic only to be crushed by another disastrous season where I allowed myself to buy into the hype. The first season coach Gibbs came back was the worst year as a Redskin fan for me because I saw so much hope. I guess I have simply developed the wait and see approach. I remain guarded!
It would be nice if they didn't suck. Hell, I'd ba happy for just "Average". But as I stated in another thread, my big concern is Rabach. He was flat out abused on multiple occasions last year. I hope we can squeeze one more year out of him
 

Henry

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To me there's only one "what if" on this one, brother:

"What if" the brain trust really does know something we don't and the line turns out not to suck? The rest of my fantasy bullet-points were intended as possible reactions to/results OF such a crazy, random happenstance. :)
Om, you can use that one every year about every position, can't ya? :)

No, my glass-is-half-full outlook on the OL is this:

The last time we had a supposedly crappy OL and brought in a pro-bowl calibre QB was 1999. I remember that year everyone, experts and fans alike, thinking we'd be leaning on our defense we'd have to win our games 6-3 all year. Turns out the line didn't suck. It was the QB. Who knew? :D

This could be another 1999. Maybe our line actually never did suck that bad but we just needed a QB. If we don't crash and burn on the line this year I think that's going to be the reason.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Ehhh...Casey Rabach is still Casey Rabach. I'll believe the line doesn't suck when I don't see him consistently getting pushed a yard or two off the LOS.
 

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Ehhh...Casey Rabach is still Casey Rabach. I'll believe the line doesn't suck when I don't see him consistently getting pushed a yard or two off the LOS.
I think Rabach's season will depend on the Tackles. Our Guards spent so much time helping to the outside last year, in one direction or the other, that often Casey was left man-on-man with guys who more often than not see double teams. Add to that the fact that OL guys play 100% of the snaps while the DL guys they are going against rotate, especially the DTs, and by the end of the game you have a very tired C.

Not say Casey is a world beater or an all pro but I think he is better than we have seen due to schemes we had to run to cover for much weaker guys on the outside. At least that is my impression and it could be completely wrong.
 
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Lanky Livingston

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I didn't think Guards usually helped outside - if Tackles need help, they generally help them with the TE. I could be wrong though.
 

Om

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Not sure there's any one codified way to help an OT ... you can

- chip with a RB
- chip with a TE
- give help from the OG
- cut him down with a WR (ahem)
- roll the QB away
- slip ExLax into the DE's pregame raw meat cocktail
- etc.

Gotta figure with a raw rook slated to start at LT protecting The Franchise's blind side, the Shanahans are burning the midnite oil coming up with all kinds of trickeration designed to help Trent keep McNabb upright.
 

Neophyte

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Very possible, Om. Although, if the kid is really in Samuels league as a lot of people seem to think he might be, he should not need much help except when facing the premier guys in the league like Ware (who he gets on Opening Day... :()

I didn't think Guards usually helped outside - if Tackles need help, they generally help them with the TE. I could be wrong though.
And yeah, there is certainly a lot of that with strong edge rushers who try to crash around the corner on the T but I remember a number of times guys tried to go inside on the T too and a G was there to help out.

I'm not saying it happened all the time but it does not take a lot of it for Rabach to start to look bad in situations where he has to handle a guy man-on-man when that guy should really demand a double team. I remember a couple of times specifically against Dallas where Rabach was asked to take Ratliff straight up. Not a favorable matchup at all for nearly every center in the league.
 

Jugband McGillicuddy

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No disrespect, and this is a ridiculous over-simplification, but if the offensive line doesn't suck, our potential is limitless, Om.

Whereas Jason Campbell (bless his soul as he adjusts to NFL purgatory) would still overchuck the deep ball even when he had time, McNabb throws a beautiful deep ball when he gets that much-needed 3.5 to 4 seconds to let the ball go. Whatsmore, I think McNabb has a much better sense for pressure, and ability to make plays on the run than Campbell does. I don't think the line NEEDS to be as good for McNabb as it did for Campbell, but I also believe they will be better. That's a good combination.

I know most of the league doesn't think we have many weapons for #5 to use, but I disagree with that premise too. I thought Devin11 really came on strong toward the end of last season, and danged near beat the Saints by himself. I fully expect year three to be his coming out party (on the field, not from the closet) and I wouldn't be surprised if Kelly became a solid contributor as well.

At the TE slots, I think Cooley and Davis both have more pure talent than Brent Celek, and that bodes well for the offense too. McNabb will put both of them to good use. And whether it's Portis, Westbrook, or Parker, I think he'll have some toys to play with coming out of the backfield too. I really don't see any shortage of targets for our new sniper.

Off the topic, I expect to have more opportunities and shorter fields to work with this season with the move to the 3-4 as well. When you look around the league, all of the teams that get consistent pressure on the opposing QB run a 3-4; the Steelers, the Ravens, the (ugh) Cowboys. The 3-4 allows for better disguising of blitzes, and I'm excited to see what Orakpo can do in Haslett's system. I fully expect him to be our DeMarcus Ware. And blue star or not, we all want someone like that.

I'm comfortable with T. Williams, Dock, Rabach, M. Williams and Hicks. And I'm hopeful that Rinehart and Heyer have matured into solid depth players. Here again, I believe the system will help all involved. The ZBS, trapping, and honestly cutting that Shanahan's offenses have been known for should minimize the front five's weaknesses, while accentuating their strengths.

I'm a Redskin fan, so I know to temper my enthusiasm. I know that it'll take time to adapt to such drastic changes on both sides of the ball. I think a 7-9 season is just as likely, if not moreso, than a 10-6 season, but I'm finally excited for the future of this franchise.

But again, if this line doesn't suck. This is a dangerous offense, IMHO.
 

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