If the Redskins offensive line improves this season to the point of surprise, many a pundit will have that proverbial egg on their face.That's because right now, most outside observers are not viewing this unit with anything close to sunny-side up optimism.Rotoworld's Evan Silva is the latest to rank the NFL's 32 offensive lines with the Redskins slotted way down the line at 26. No stunner there. Silva stated hisprojections were based on his own notes from the dozen or so games he watches each week; research from Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus; factoring in"the impact of blocking schemes, rookie expectations, and free agency additions".His evaluation assumes the typical starting lineup with Kory Lichtensteiger at left guard andJammal Brown at right tackle plus rookies Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis joining reserves Maurice Hurt, Tyler Polumbus and Erik Cook (not sure why, but tackle Willie Smith, not listed). "Overview: This is another group that could have benefited from continuity that is so vital for zone-blocking teams. Trent Williams (6), Lichtensteiger (11), and Brown (4) combined to miss 21 games due to injury and suspension last season. Though a system fit for the Shanahans' scheme, Chester's game lacks requisite power for right guard. Lichtensteiger, considered a solid starter when healthy, is now coming back from ACL and MCL surgery. Hurt and Cook gained valuable spot-starting experience due to the injuries in front of them, but this year's priority needs simply to be staying healthy. If the Redskins somehow find durability on the line, this could shoot from a bottom-seven unit to the middle of the pack. Robert Griffin III should definitely make it look better."After drafting three lineman and the primary portion of free agency in the books, any improvement figures to come from the current members, though the Lichtensteiger and Brown injury scenarios linger.For comparison's sake, the Eagles (7),Giants (14) and Cowboys (16) all ranked well ahead of the Redskins, though others might quibble on the gap.Of their 2012 non-NFC East opponents, only the Rams (32) finished behind the Redskins while five units ranked among the league's top 10.
NEW ORLEANS — The Redskins face the unenviable task of heading on the road in Week 11 to take on the red-hot Saints in, New Orleans, La. on Sunday.
An improbable and unexpected victory over the Saints would recquire a clean bill of health and plenty of good luck.
The list of inactives for Week 11 is good news-bad news scenario we are used to seeing for about the last month.
Here is the list:
- TE Jordan Reed
- C Spencer Long
- WR Terrelle Pryor
- G Arie Kouandjio
- CB Quinton Dunbar
- DL Caraun Reid
- WR Brian Quick
Reed, Long, and Pryor are not surprise inclusions to the list here. All three were declared out on the Friday injury report. Still, the bad news is that three Week 1 starters are on the shelf for a key game.
It’s good news that OT Trent Williams and ILB Zach Brown will play. They are among the most valuable players on their respective sides of the ball. Both were listed as questionable, Williams with a knee injury that has been an issue since Week 4 and Brown with an Achilles injury.
That’s also good news that wide receiver Ryan Grant is active. He was listed as questionable with concussion. With Quick (concussion) and Pyror sidelined the Redskins would have had only three wide receivers to get through the game.
Dunbar is suffering from an illness that hit him on Friday. His absence means that rookie Fabian Moreau will be the first cornerback off the bench.
NEW ORLEANS—Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, November 19, four days before the Washington Redskins play the New York Giants on Thanksgiving Day at FedEx Field.
Today’s schedule: Redskins kickoff, noon, NBC Sports Washington; Redskins @ Saints, 1 p.m., FOX
—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 11
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 21
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 28
Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Saints
Will the Redskins commit to running the ball? Some of you will answer with a kneejerk “no” because they don’t think that Jay Gruden will do that. But just look back at the Rams and Raiders games, when they ran 39 and 34 times, respectively. If running is even moderately effective and if the score remains in a range where the Redskins can play ball control, Gruden is more than happy to let Kirk Cousins had the ball off. The Saints defense allows 4.7 yards per carry, 30th in the NFL so the effectiveness aspect should allow for running. Can the Redskins defense keep a cap on Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram long enough for Gruden to be able to stick with the run?
The Chris Thompson factor—Whether he is taking handoffs or catching passes, Thompson’s productivity has been a key for the Redskins. He averages 61 yards from scrimmage in their losses and 116 yards in their wins. Earlier in the season it was Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff getting out in front of Thompson on outside zone runs and screen passes. While they were out of the lineup, Thompson was largely stuck in the mud. With both back, maybe he can get some traction in the Superdome.
Can’t afford mistakes—Like most teams who lead their divisions, the Saints are very opportunistic when it comes to takeaways. They don’t have a large number of them, 13 (13th in the NFL), but they are taking advantage. They have scored eight touchdowns after turnovers, with two pick-sixes, a scoop and score after a fumble, and five TD drives. Kirk Cousins can’t afford to make a mistake, especially in his own territory.
Prediction—It’s not impossible to paint a picture where the Redskins win this game. But it would take something like we saw in Seattle, with some mistakes by the Saints (equivalent to the three missed Seahawks field goals) combined with a dash of late magic could get them past the Saints. The Redskins are 7-1 in the Superdome and Drew Brees has a career passer rating of 70.5 with eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions against Washington. Of course, many of the players responsible for those numbers have long since retired. But the reality is that the Saints are playing better than the Redskins and they’re at home. That means that the home team is likely to win.
Saints 31, Redskins 21
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In case you missed it
- The Redskins week that was—Where's Galette, Cousins' future
- Redskins lose three starters to injury ahead of Sunday
- Norman earns Week 10 NFLPA community MVP