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Will the Redskins make changes on the offensive line?

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Will the Redskins make changes on the offensive line?

In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

No. 8

Will the Redskins make changes on the offensive line?

El-Bashir: To me, the Redskins’ O-line, at long last, has youth and potential on its side. Consider:

  • Left tackle Trent Williams, 27, is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and the team’s highest paid player for a reason.  
  • Second-year left guard Spencer Long, 25, did not allow a sack after replacing Shawn Lauvao, 28, in Week 4.  
  • Rookie Brandon Scherff, 24, thrived at right guard after being kicked inside in training camp, earning All-Rookie Team honors.
  • Second-year right tackle Morgan Moses, 24, had the odd slip-up in pass protection but was an effective run-blocker and performed solidly overall.
  • And although the Redskins’ run game scuffled, the O-line did an excellent job protecting Kirk Cousins, who absorbed 26 sacks (20 quarterbacks were sacked more). In 2014, Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Cousins were sacked a total of 58 times.

So the big question, obviously, is what will GM Scot McCloughan and Co. do about the center position? Kory Lichtensteiger, who turns 31 in March and carries a $4 million cap charge in 2016, is an interesting case. He got off to a slow start and then suffered a neck/shoulder injury in Week 5 and was sidelined until the playoff game. But…Lichtensteiger’s value to the team was underscored by the struggles of his replacement, Josh LeRibeus.

As it stands now, Lichtensteiger is still the best center on the roster, and the savvy and football I.Q. that he brings to the lineup can’t be ignored. But with a load of starting-caliber centers available in this year’s draft, I would be surprised if McCloughan doesn’t invest a pick in this position. One other possibility: could Long slide over to center when/if Lauvao recovers from his injuries? 

Tandler: Any general manager can tell when a player is performing at a high level and determine that no changes need to be made at his position. It’s also not a great challenge to identify a player who just doesn’t have the skills to play a position and decide to look for a replacement.

But the challenge comes when a player can do some things well but still has some holes in his game. That is where Scot McCloughan is when it comes to figuring out what to do a center and left guard. Both Kory Lichtensteiger and Spencer Long did some things well but left a lot to be desired.

Will McCloughan move on from them and invest either free agent dollars or draft picks to get players who can fill in starting on opening day in 2016? Or does he hold on for another year, believing that a healthy Lichtensteiger and another year of coaching at the hands of Bill Callahan for Long will bring their performances up to the level they need to succeed?

I don’t think that McCloughan is going to spend any serious free agent money on the line. Those of you thinking of Alex Mack coming in to play center can probably forget it. If the opportunity to upgrade the offensive line comes up in the draft McCloughan could well take advantage of it. But I don’t see any major shakeups brewing. Shaun Lauvao and Arie Kouandjio will provide competition in the interior of the line and Callahan and Jay Gruden will pick the best from the group to start. There are other areas, like the entire defensive side of the ball, that are in need of more attention than the offensive line.

25 Questions series

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

More Redskins

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.