By Rich Tandler and Ben Standig
If you look at any analyst’s list of offseason needs for the Washington Redskins, you’ll see the offensive line near the top of the list. They envision probable quarterback Robert Griffin III needing to use every bit of his speed to run from pass pressure, multiplying the inevitable rookie mistakes.
But the Redskins are dealing with a salary cap drastically reduced by NFL sanctions and, after taking their quarterback of the future with the second pick, no premium draft picks. Do they really need to pour scarce resources into the O-line? Or can they go into the 2012 season with what they have? CSN Washington’s Rich Tandler and Ben Standig debate the question in this week’s edition of Point-Counterpoint.
Rich Tandler: This just in–it’s not 2009 any more. This line is not going to make anyone forget the ’91 Hogs or anything but it’s more mediocre than awful. Redskins quarterbacks were sacked 41 times in 2011. That’s four more sacks that the average NFL team allowed, or about one more sack a month. And remember that 10 of those sacks where in one game against the Bills in Toronto when John Beck had so many problems getting rid of the ball it seemed that the it was Super Glued to his hand.
Ben Standig: Outside of quarterback, there might not be a greater dollar in, dollar out football investment than putting resources into one’s offensive line. A stout group of blockers can make even pedestrian passers, runners and receivers sing. A suspect unit can have the most dynamic of weapons croon the failed to meet expectations blues. According to Pro Football Focus, the Redskins line ranked 30th against the run, 29th against the pass last season. Should we entrust essentially the same core with guarding a heavily invested in rookie passer? For basic depth purposes, more linemen are needed (this group could not overcome an injury to a non-Pro Bowler like Kory Lichtensteiger). To keep, say, RG3’s confidence and body intact during his formative time in the league, tacking on a right tackle should be remaining priority number one.
Tandler: I’m certainly not arguing against acquiring depth. After Vinny Cerrato’s Redskins went most of the decade without drafting development O-lineman, they need to continue to draft linemen and find undrafted players like Willie Smith. But while ‘Steiger’s knee bears watching, opening day will be about five weeks shy of a year since the injury happened, plenty of time for a player who doesn’t rely on cutting to get his job done. Mike Shanahan said that it appears that Brown is getting better as taking yoga classes is helping to break up scar tissue in his hip. Behind Brown is Smith, who was respectable for an undrafted rookie when he had to play and should be even better with an full offseason program. Finally, I love PFF’s work but you did notice which O-line ranked behind the Redskins, right? The Super Bowl champion Giants.
Standig: I’ve witnessed what Brown can do for this team. Unless the oft-injured 31-year-old became a black belt equivalent on the yoga circuit, label me unenthused about a potential rebound season. Smith could be a sleeper, but how could Mike Shanahan ever relax with the undrafted one at right tackle if the dreadlocked face of the franchise is under center. If I truly felt like the plan was to bring RG3 (or, hypothetically Andrew Luck) along slowly by limiting his on-field exposure as a rookie, then I’ll sort of, kind of buy the not putting frontline money into the line plan. Something tells me public pressure gets to the Redskins decision-makers and the young quarterback is out there sooner than later. Now, you mentioned the Giants. So RG3’s career tracks like Eli Manning’s and not like his backup and famous flop David Carr, the Redskins should add higher-end or upside potential bodyguards to cover more than just the blindside. I for one will sleep a lot easier if they do.
You can reach Ben Standig by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can email Rich Tandler atRTandlerCSN@comcast.net . Follow Ben on Twitter @benstandig and follow Rich @Rich_Tandler.