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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