Quick Links

Redskins' revamped O-line is making strides


Redskins' revamped O-line is making strides

After struggling at times in recent years, the Redskins’ offensive line has been among the team’s biggest assets through this season's first four games.


  • The Redskins rank No. 1 in rushing yards with 139.5 yards per game.
  • The running backs are averaging 4.4 yards per carry, the third best mark in the league.
  • Kirk Cousins has been sacked five times. That total is tied for the fourth fewest. 
  • Through four games last season, Redskins quarterbacks had been sacked eight times.

Entering the season, the retooled line was among the Redskins’ biggest concerns, primarily because of the inexperience on the right side. But veteran Coach Bill Callahan has helped tackle Morgan Moses and rookie guard Brandon Scherff get up to speed quickly and the duo has performed solidly, as has second year guard Spencer Long, who's replaced an injured Shawn Lauvao.

“I think they’ve been very solid,” Coach Jay Gruden said this week. “We lost Lauvao [and] Spencer Long stepped in and played well. Trent has been excellent at left tackle. Kory Lichtensteiger has been solid at center, making all the calls and communicating. Brandon, for a rookie, and Morgan, for only his second year, those two guys [are] playing together for the first time [and] I think [they] have done some excellent things. I feel like those guys are just going to continue to get better and better. We’re excited about the way they are playing.”

Gruden added: “I think they’ve done a good job. I think there are still things we can improve on, no question about it. We’re working on that every day. I think we’re No. 1 in rushing. I think our third down conversion rate is right around 50 percent, which is excellent. And we’ve only given up four sacks, four and a half, if you want to say five you can–and we’ve thrown the ball quite a bit.”

Of the five sacks yielded this season, blamed the line for only three. PFF says Lichtensteiger has allowed two sacks, Lauvao permitted one while the others belonged to Cousins and running back Chris Thompson.

"I think they've been outstanding,” Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay said. “They've protected the quarterback well. I think we've been able to run the football efficiently. So, they're playing at a high level right now. And I thought it was really encouraging to see–missing Shawn Lauvao last week [and] the way that Spencer Long stepped in in his real, first, big-time action in a game, that really mattered. I thought he responded to the challenge.”

McVay also praised the impact made by Callahan, particularly with the young linemen. Since training camp, Callahan, who was hired in the offseason, has often kept his unit on the field after practice for additional work on skills and technique—and it certainly seems to be paying off.

“I think Coach Callahan does an excellent job with those guys,” McVay said. “We've got some veteran leadership up front with guys like Kory [and] Trent that do an excellent job keeping everybody in line. And then the young three guys that are playing for us are continuing to get better each and every week.”

On Sunday, the Redskins’ line will be tested by a Falcons’ defense that’s been good against the run (85.3 yards per game, which ranks 5th) but not so spectacular against the pass (305 yards per, 30th). Atlanta’s pass rush has also mustered only five sacks, which is tied for the second fewest in the league. 

Quick Links

PIC: Adrian Peterson has arrived at Redskins Park


PIC: Adrian Peterson has arrived at Redskins Park

With Derrius Guice out for the season and Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall both sustaining injuries during the Redskins' Week 2 preseason game vs. the Jets, the Burgundy and Gold may be in need of some help at running back. Enter seven-time Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson.

One of the best running backs to ever play the game, Peterson has rushed for 12,276 yards and 99 touchdowns over a 11-year career.

Peterson's visit is part of the team's contingency plan if they do indeed become very thing at the running back position. Jamaal Charles and Orleans Darkwa have also been at Redskins Park for visits. 

"Well we want to bring them in to get physicals on them just in case,” said Gruden.  

Nonetheless, the thought of having Adrian Peterson in a Redskins uniform is exciting. 


Quick Links

Alex Smith believes that his Redskins teammates are 'all in'

Associated Press

Alex Smith believes that his Redskins teammates are 'all in'

During the offseason program and training camp we have seen ample evidence that Alex Smith’s teammates have great respect for their new quarterback. Speaking to the media on Sunday, Smith said that the respect is mutual. 

While saying that, nobody really knows how the team will respond when the games count and the pressure is on, but Smith likes what he has seen so far. 

“I think we’ve got guys that are all in,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that are committed, and I don’t think that’s the case everywhere. I think a lot of times it’s easy not to invest because it’s scary to put yourself out there knowing you might not succeed. I think we’ve got a bunch of guys who are all in, really invested in what we’re doing here, and I think that’s all you can ask for. We’ve got a tough team that’s not afraid of competition, not afraid to toe the line. I think that’s been apparent through camp. Like I said, the proof’s in the pudding. You’ve got to go do it when it really matters.”

Of course, it’s smart to be complimentary of your new teammates when you are under contract with the organization for the next five years, and Smith is nothing if not smart. Still, Smith didn’t seem to be blowing smoke when he talked about how he formed his opinion about the team. 

“I think it’s an accumulation going back to April up to this date,” said Smith. “It’s how he conducts himself, how he carries himself in the locker room, in the film room, in the training room, in the weight room, on the practice field, when you’re in camp riding the shuttle bus together. I mean, you can tell, I think, how invested guys are. You can tell who’s real, who’s authentic. That quickly becomes apparent when you put all those things together. You can see what guys are really made of and who’s faking it. We’ve got a bunch of guys that are all in.”

For the last several years, the Redskins have talked a lot about drafting and signing players with character, guys who as Smith put it are “all in”. They haven’t always hit the mark, but they have collected players like Brandon Scherff, Jonathan Allen, Josh Norman, and others who love the game more than they love what they can get from the game (i.e. a big paycheck). 

To be sure, dysfunction involving players is not entirely a thing of the past. There has been occasional drama such as the sudden Su’a Cravens departure last year, but most NFL team have occasional situations and the Redskins are not one of the teams frequently making headlines for the wrong reasons. 

Smith is another one of those high character guys and he is recognizing that in the approach of many of his teammates. 

This all sounds great in August and, as Smith noted, we won’t really know how the high character will translate when they’re in a tight game during the season. But for right now, it’s good that the quarterback has confidence in his teammates and that could count for something when the chips are down in December. 

Latest Redskins news and analysis

-Redskins vs JetsMust-see photos from the game
-53-man roster projectionVersion 2.0

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler