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Jay Gruden high on Redskins offensive line, and numbers back it up

Jay Gruden high on Redskins offensive line, and numbers back it up

While most NFL fans focus their support on quarterback and running backs, Redskins fans love their offensive linemen. So far in 2016, the 'Skins O-line deserves it.

Washington is on a four-game win streak, tied for fourth in the league in total yards, and fresh off a dominating effort against the Eagles that saw the Redskins run game rack up 237 yards. 

"They were great, protecting the quarterback and in the running game," Washington coach Jay Gruden said of the offensive line on Monday.

"They’ve been great all season, quite honestly. They’re playing well, they’re coming off the ball, they’re moving people," Gruden continued. "They’re getting up to the next level. They’re pulling. They’re doing everything you want them to do. They’re very athletic, they’re very big, and it’s a great group."

Led by veteran Pro Bowler left tackle Trent Williams, the Redskins O-line group worked out together this offseason and dubbed themselves Hogs 2.0. Nobody that grew up inside the beltway could ever forget the original Hogs group - an offensive line that won three Super Bowls - but the current iteration of the Skins line is showing its own brand of skill.

Fletcher Cox, the Eagles $100 million defensive lineman and one of the best interior talents in the NFL, spoke highly of the Skins front after the game Sunday.

"We knew that they could have a great offensive line," he said.

Beyond Williams, Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff are top-flight guards. Scherff is proving his draft position from 2015 worthwhile, and right tackle Morgan Moses has largely played well opposite Big Trent. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Redskins comes at center, where Spencer Long took over for the injured Kory Lichtensteiger and has been quite impressive.

"Spencer’s doing a great job," Gruden said. "He had his best day [against the Eagles]."

With Long at center, the Redskins have continuity, which Gruden said is a big difference from 2015.

"I think our line is playing together. We had a lot of changes on the offensive line last year. I think this is the most continuity we’ve had week-in and week-out," the coach said. "Now with Spencer [Long] entrenched in there at center and Lauvao back, Morgan [Moses] and Brandon [Scherff] playing together on the same side again for another year with more experience, and of course the all-world guy at left tackle [Trent Williams], makes them better."

The skill players recognize the work being done up front too.

"Our O-line did a great job getting on guys and getting to the second level," running back Matt Jones said after rushing for 135 yards on 16 carries Sunday. "Shout out to my O-line, they did a heck of a job."

Pro Football Focus provides metrics of just about everything that happens on the football field, including offensive line play. The Redskins rank No. 3 in pass blocking, and No. 6 in run blocking. While those numbers stand out, it's more important what the players themselves think.

"They still have one of the best D-lines in the league," Long said after the Eagles win. "But we are one of the best O-lines."

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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

roullier-ap.png
Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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