Jay Gruden has not been a head coach for very long but he seems to be as good as any of them when it comes to answering questions without giving out much information.
Last week at the NFL Combine he was asked about the offensive line a couple of times. Here is what he said the first time.
“We’re looking very closely out our scheme from last year, looking for what to carry over into next year’s playbook. Obviously, there’s some good things we did with the outside zone. That will still be part of our offense, no question about it. The key to football nowadays is being diverse. You have to be able to run the football outside zone, you have to be able to run some gap-blocking schemes and some draws. We’ll get everything introduced and figure out what we’re good at, and go from there.”
A bit later he addressed the line again:
“Those are good players, but sometimes on third and eight, they get pushed back a little bit. They’ve done some great things in their career, obviously. But if you get the bigger guys that don’t move quite as well, then you lose Alfred Morris and his strength, and that’s the outside zone and the stretch and finding lanes and holes to cut through. So, it can come back and bite you if you want to go big, depending on what you’re doing. You have to get better. But I like the guys we have on our team and we can work with them.”
Much has been made out of the fact that the offensive linemen that Gruden worked with in Cincinnati were bigger than the group that started in Washington the last two seasons. But, as Gruden pointed out, bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to taking advantage of what Morris can do best.
As noted, Gruden wasn’t giving many hints about any changes he might be contemplating along the line. But it does appear that he is delivering a message to the current members of the offensive line.
Hey, Tyler Polumbus! If you want to play right tackle at 305 pounds, that’s fine. But you’d better be able to blow back the man in front of you when we need you to or I’ll find someone who can. And Kory Lichtensteiger, I can live with 284 at guard if it helps you get over and block for Alfred on the stretch plays. But you’d damn well better stonewall pass pressure when it comes up the middle. Or I’ll find someone who can.
Polumbus don’t have to turn into a Joe Jacoby-like mauler. But by adding some strength and using the right technique a smaller offensive lineman can be successful in moving a defensive end from Point A to Point B against the defender’s will. And proper technique (and perhaps some use of the quarterback’s mobility) can go a long way towards Lichtensteiger tightening up the blocking on those third and eight plays.