Despite some issues with the fundamental process of snapping the ball to the quarterback, it appears that Josh LeRibeus will remain at center for the Redskins when they play the Giants last week.
Since taking over for an injured Kory Lichtensteiger in Week 6, LeRibeus has had some problems with both the accuracy and timing of his shotgun snaps to quarterback Kirk Cousins. But as colleague Tarik El-Bashir reports, recently-acquired backup Brian de la Puente is not yet in game shape so even if they are inclined to make a change they can’t do it yet.
LeRibeus’ accuracy on shotgun snaps has improved of late. Cousins has had to reach for a few here and there but the consistent scattershot nature of his snaps that we saw when he first took over the position have largely faded away. But there are still glitches in the timing.
“The snaps have been a little bit of an issue,” said Gruden. “They weren’t the downfall of our offense by any stretch. We had one that — was a very big [one] — he snapped it when he wasn’t supposed to and nobody was ready. We gave up a sack on that one, but the snaps have been getting a little bit better and Josh has continued to work on them. That’s what we have to do — just continue to work on them. Josh is playing OK, but we have got to work on the location of the snaps and when to snap them.”
The sack came early in the fourth quarter. LeRibeus and none of the other 10 players on offense moved. Three Panthers converged on Cousins for the sack. That has happened at least three times since LeRibeus took over at center.
“Well it hasn’t happened too often,” said Gruden. “We have a lot of snaps in a football game.”
Well, yes. But when the defense gets a free run at the quarterback with none of the offensive linemen ready to block the potential disaster is very high.
“It should never happen, just like our defensive line should never jump offsides and we should never jump offsides on offense . . . Sometimes we’ve had false starts,” said Gruden. “Sometimes it’s the center, sometimes it's the guard or whoever. When it’s the center, it’s very magnified because nobody else is ready. Unfortunately we’ve had two or three too many. I don’t know why, no.”
Gruden is in a tough spot. All he can do is hope that LeRibeus improves and that Cousins stays in on piece while de la Puente, who was not with a team all year until he signed with the Redskins two weeks ago and has not played since the middle of the 2014 season, gets ready to play. When de la Puente is a viable option Gruden will be able to assess where LeRibeus is an decide if de la Puente is an upgrade.
In the big picture, the mistake here may have been relying on LeRibeus to be the backup center in the first place. Lichtensteiger has been reliable for the last few years but perhaps bringing in an actual center during the offseason to serve as the backup would have been a better option that relying on LeRibeus, who was never considered to be a viable option to back up at center in his first three season with the team in part due to problems with shotgun snaps.