The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out. That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.
In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Is Spencer Long the long-term answer at center?
Finlay: In a word: Yes. Long played well in 2016 before a rash of injuries hampered him later in the season. Coaches and teammates spoke highly of his blocking and ability to cal coverages at the line. In the locker room, he's respected and funny.
Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan talked about their desire to let the 'Skins O-line grow up and gel together, and with young players Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses on Long's right flank, that's just what the team is doing. Further, once the team has to play Scherff and Moses, a contract for Long will seem like a relative bargain.
It seems highly unlikely Kory Lichtensteiger will come back to compete for the center spot, and there isn't another center on the roster. There is the off chance Washington would ask Long to move to left guard if Shawn Lauvao gets released, but the team spent a lot of time and resources training Long to play center. Why go back now?
Tandler: It has been pretty well established that Scot McCloughan had his sights set on Alabama center Ryan Kelly in the first round of last year’s draft. Fortunately, the Colts took Kelly a few picks before the Redskins went on the clock. Long’s progress at the position shows that a Kelly pick would have been a wasted pick.
The point is not Long will have a better career the Kelly. For all we know, Kelly may go on to have multiple All-Pro seasons. But while you want to have a good center there isn’t much added value in having a great center. Sure, Alex Mack helped the Falcon’s line gel. But unlike the Redskins Atlanta didn’t have a fourth overall pick (Trent Williams) and a fifth overall pick (Brandon Scherff) to do that.
Again, Long is not going to end up with a bust in Canton. But he is a more than adequate center and it would make no sense for a team with as many needs as the Redskins have to use more resources to try to upgrade the position. He’s up for a contract extension and the organization should lock him up and move on to improving other areas.
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