It was about in the middle of the proceedings during Monday afternoon’s practice. As the so-called skill players engaged in 7 on 7 passing drills, the grunts, the offensive and defensive linemen, went to the other end of the field to work on some one on one pass blocking.
The first to line up were the Redskins’ front-line players, right tackle Jon Jansen against left defensive end Philip Daniels. After momentary contact, Daniels put on a move and blew by Jansen straight to where the quarterback would have been. Chalk up a sack for the defense. The tone for the drill was set.
The drill continued with various matchups of ends vs. tackles and defensive tackles against guards and centers. They say that two out of three ain’t bad, but it’s terrible when it comes to pass blocking and that’s about how often the Redskins’ O-linemen were able to keep their defensive counterparts at bay during the course of the activity, which lasted for a good 20 minutes.
Of particular interest was a matchup between rookie defender Kedric Golston and four-year veteran offensive lineman Tyson Walter. Golston immediately got Walter back on his heels and blew right by him the first time they lined up. They immediately lined back up and Golston got by him in an instant again. The third time was a charm for Walter as he bested the Golston on that one rep, but it was clear who had won the mini war between the rookie and the veteran.
At bit later on in a matchup of inexperienced players Karon Riley put a power move on offensive tackle Jon Alston and blasted past him. It was moments like this that had Joe Bugel watching the drill with a concerned look on his face as seen in the photo at the top of this article. Greg Blache was looking on in a much more jovial mood as pictured below.
You don’t necessarily expect the offensive players to stonewall the defenders in a drill like this. Even a week in it’s still early. The job that the offense has in pass blocking is very much tied into technique, an intricate balance of footwork, hand and arm technique, and torso movement. To be sure there is plenty of technique involved in pass rushing, but at the root of it are speed and power. There is good reason for the defense to be ahead of the offense at this stage of the game.
But not that far ahead. The glass half full view is that the Redskins have some outstanding young talent on the line such as Golston. The empty half of that glass is that the Redskins have yet to make much progress on developing depth along the offensive line.
This is neither doom nor gloom. We have a day less than five weeks to go before the season starts and the picture could improve greatly in that time frame. Aside from Jansen’s whiff on Daniels, the starters did pretty well so perhaps their luck will hold and they will be in place all season. Very few teams have quality depth on their offensive lines.
That being said, you would rather the team had some offensive linemen who look better out there.