Games are won and lost in the trenches. It’s as simple as that in the minds of many Redskins fans. A recent article by Gregg Rosenthal over at Rotoworld.com had the Redskins Offensive Line ranked 7th overall – happy times:
7. Redskins (5) – Great run blockers. Will the rest of the offense come together? Consider that some Redskins observers thought Derrick Dockery, he of the $18.5 million guaranteed from the Bills, was their fifth-best lineman. With veteran savvy at almost every position, this group risks getting old. But I think they have one big year left. Santana Moss and Jason Campbell could be seriously undervalued because of it.
To put a Redskins spin on this, here's our schedule, combined with their OL rankings according to Rosenthal:
@ Eagles (3)
@ Packers (16)
@ Patriots (9)
@ Jets (19)
@ Cowboys (22)
@ Bucs (26)
@ Giants (15)
The smarty pants will have no doubt realized that I’ve color coded our schedule, with the teams in
Green being ranked 20th or lower, and the teams in
Red being top ten O-lines.
You will notice that there's a lot more games against teams with poor lines than there is games against teams with good ones - almost half (7 games) of our schedule is played against teams with an OL ranked 20th or worse. Only four games will be played against teams whose OL is ranked in the top 10.
Our 5-11 finish in 2006 netted us games against the Bucs and Cardinals - both have OL’s ranked in the bottom 10. On the flip side, the NFC East Champion Eagles must face the Saints and Seahawks, with lines ranked 11th and 10th respectively.
If Rosenthal’s rankings prove true, our much-criticized Defensive Line may just be getting the helping hand it needs. With a (fingers crossed) healthy Griffin, developing Golston, healthy (fingers still crossed) Daniels, and the Andre Carter we saw towards the end of last year, our DL isn’t half as bad as people think. It may not be able to manhandle the weak OL’s we’re set to face as the Panthers or Jaguars could, but it will be good enough to allow Gregg Williams to run his new ‘D’ however he sees fit. Griffin & Co. will benefit greatly from playing against lines that will still be in the gelling stage (e.g. Bills), those getting used to a new line coach (e.g. Cardinals) and those that are just flat out bad (e.g. Dolphins).
At least, that’ll be the hope. The pessimists out there will no doubt fear that one of the better Redskins OL’s in recent memory will be wasted by a weak DL. One thing is for sure – Greg Blache will be working our lads on the line hard to ensure they aren’t the weak link. A word of caution, however – if the Redskins Defensive Line play does improve in 2007, it shouldn’t be assumed that the problems we saw last year are fixed. A more successful 2007 will likely mean a tougher 2008 for an aging unit. The helping hand that’s been offered to our boys on the DL for 2007 may not be extended so readily in 2008.