By Kevin Ross II
Every Washington Redskins loss for the last decade has been blamed on the offensive line. Washingtonians who don’t even watch football have learned to communicate with Washington Redskins fans by starting each sentence with “They need a new offensive line.” For the first time in a long time, those cliché lines are no longer applicable.
Under offensive line coach Bill Callahan, the team finds themselves in first place with one of the best offensive lines in football. Left tackle Trent Williams is having himself another dominant season and was just elected to his fourth straight Pro Bowl. But the key to judging an offensive line’s success is to look at the quarterback position.
Typically, Washington’s quarterbacks lead the league in sack totals, but this season Kirk Cousins finds himself ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks with only 24. To add some perspective, Alex Smith leads the league in sacks with almost double the amount at 43.
Keeping their quarterback off of the turf has paid major dividends for Washington. First of all, it has kept Cousins healthy for the entire season, and second it has lead to explosive plays. DeSean Jackson has been credited for revitalizing the team’s offense with his return to the lineup. But the key to Jackson being relevant in this offense starts with the O-line.
Cousins will typically take a seven-step drop on plays for Jackson. The offensive line’s ability to hold their blocks for these long developing plays has been the key to Jackson’s success and the explosive component that Jay Gruden’s offense now seems to possess.
This is why the key to this week’s injury report centers on the O-line. Leading into the biggest game of the season, one in which the team can take the division with a win, the offensive line is in flux. Listed on this week’s injury report are two starting lineman: right tackle Morgan Moses and center Josh LeRibeus.
Gruden took a moment to elaborate on the status of the injured lineman, and he seemed more concerned about Morgan Moses. “Mogan is going to need the next couple of days. He really is. He did a limited basis today. Him and Josh [LeRibeus] both. Morgan is going to need a little bit more time, so we’ll see how he does. I think he’ll be good enough to dress and all that stuff, but we’ll see how he does come Saturday night. Pregame warm-up and all that stuff will be a good test for him,” he said.
If Moses is unable to play, the team will lean on Ty Nsekhe to fill in at right tackle. Nsekhe last saw extended action in Week 6 against the Jets, where he made the start at left tackle and replaced Trent Williams. In that game, Nsekhe held his own and was actually one of the bright spots in a dull performance by Washington.
If center Josh LeRibeus is unable to dress for Saturday night, Washington will lean on Brian de la Puente, who has never made a start for the team.
Will Compton, LB (Neck)
Kedric Goldston, DE (Calf)
Jason Hatcher, DE (Neck, Knee)
DeSean Jackson, WR (Foot/Knee)
Jeron Johnson, S (Hamstring)
Frank Kearse, DE (Finger)
Ryan Kerrigan, LB (Toe)
Jordan Reed, TE (Shoulder)
Keenen Robinson, LB (Shoulder)
Chris Thompson, RB (Shoulder)
Dashon Goldson, S (Rib/Knee/Shoulder)
Ryan Grant, WR (Abdomen)
Matt Jones, RB (Hip)
Josh LeRibeus, C/G (Ankle)
Morgan Moses, T (Ankle)
Perry Riley Jr., LB (Foot)
Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.