October 19, 2019

Washington Redskins 2014 Season Preview Part IV: Offensive Line

All this week leading up to the Washington Redskins 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 7, District Sports Page is taking an in-depth look at the players that will make up the 53-man roster to start the season in a position-by-position breakdown.

In Part I, Neal Dalal took a look at the Quarterback position.
In Part II, Eric Hobeck examined the situation at running back.
In Part III, Joe Mercer previewed the wide receiver corps.

Here now is Part IV, a look at the men responsible for protecting Robert Griffin III, the offensive line.


Trent Williams in action against the Cowboys in 2012 (photo by Brian Murphy)

Trent Williams in action against the Cowboys in 2012 (photo by Brian Murphy)

It’s a tall task to be a member of the offensive line for the Washington Redskins.  You have to pass protect for superstar Robert Griffin III, run-block for the powerful Alfred Morris, and oh, by the way, be constantly compared to Washington’s most elite group of players ever, The Hogs.  This unit, which was largely responsible for three Super Bowl championships over a decade, will seemingly never be duplicated again.

Since all members of the group have retired, the Redskins have been mostly unsuccessful replacing these legends, save or a few examples.  Names like Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels are exceptions to the rule of poor late 90’s and 21st century Redskins offensive lines, and some wondered if the Redskins would ever have a great line after Samuels retired after a successful, yet relatively brief, career.

Then came the 2010 draft and newly anointed head coach Mike Shanahan’s first pick, offensive tackle Trent Williams out of Oklahoma.  Few had the Redskins taking Williams, as they were picking fourth and Russell Okung would be available for the choosing.  But Shanahan saw the potential that Williams could bring and that he could anchor the offensive line at its most important position.

Even though Okung now has a ring with the Seattle Seahawks, Williams remains the much better selection to this day.  The now fifth-year left tackle is among the best in the league, going toe-to-toe against elite pass rushers on a weekly basis and consistently winning.

Williams career has not been without controversy, however.  In 2011, Williams was suspended for four games due to marijuana use.  While his teammate Fred Davis, who was also suspended at that time, never learned from this incident, it seemed to have had a profound effect on Trent.  Since that time, Williams has not only jettisoned the weed, but he has become an important leader on — and off — the field for Washington.  The Redskins will almost certainly be looking to extend the contract of their very important left tackle.

Moving along the line, 2014’s team welcomes a new addition to the left guard spot, Shawn Lauvao.  Washington’s newest guard is also in his fifth NFL season as he was taken in the third round of the 2010 draft by the Cleveland Browns. Lauvao brings a physical presence to the line and he seems to be more of a fit in a power-running scheme, which perhaps may be an indicator of how Gruden would like to continue to build his offensive line over the next few seasons.

In the meantime, he must adapt to more of a zone scheme, which has helped make Alfred Morris the all-pro running back that he is today.  This will require Lauvao to be a lot more athletic than he used to be as he will need to move across the field quickly in order to either pick up a block or move his man enough to open a hole up for Morris to make his one-cut and into open space.

At center, a former left guard moves to the right and becomes the man who snaps the ball to RGIII.  Kory Lichtensteiger will move back to his more natural position this year and will handle snapping duties.  He is untested at center in the NFL, but has always seemed to impress coaches during his time with the Redskins.  It’s a compliment to be sure when your new head coach trusts you to take over at center and anchor the middle of an offensive line.

Consistency is the name of the game for right guard Chris Chester and right tackle Tyler Polumbus in 2014.  The Redskins need to see better play from the interior this year, and hope that they have made the additions to do so. Lauvao will bring much needed pass protection help to the interior, but will also naturally benefit from playing alongside arguably the best left tackle in the league in Williams.

Chester, however, plays next to the sometimes shaky Polumbus and both have yet to play up to their potential.  Chester was signed as a free agent mostly due to the fact that he is quick and therefore was a good fit for the Shanahan zone blocking scheme.  Though it does look like Gruden will employ similar concepts in his play-calling, vast improvement in pass protection is imperative for Chester and Polumbus this season.

The reserves for the offensive line are loaded with potential.  Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton, and 2014 draft picks Spencer Long and Morgan Moses provide solid depth for this unit and it’s clear that these are the guys Gruden was impressed with in the offseason workouts and training camp.

LeRibeus is coming off a season where he saw no playing time due to coming into 2013 camp overweight, but has since gotten on the right track and looks to once again support the line like he did late in the 2012 season. Moses and Long are both still pretty raw coming into their rookie seasons, but their upside is encouraging and could be Redskins offensive line mainstays well into the future.


Joe Ziegengeist is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. He is a 2012 graduate of Old Dominion University where he earned a degree in sports management.  Recently, his article previewing the team and training camp in Richmond was the cover story for Hanover Lifestyle and featured on RichmondNavigator.com. You can follow Joe on Twitter @bostonskins.

About Joe Ziegengeist

Joe Ziegengeist is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. He is a 2012 graduate of Old Dominion University where he earned a degree in sports management. Joe grew up in Chesapeake, VA and has shared season tickets to the Redskins since 2007 and is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox. Joe has been featured in Hanover Lifestyle and RichmondNavigator.com. Joe is an Account Executive for Ripken Baseball in Aberdeen, Maryland and a Machinery Technician in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. You can follow Joe on Twitter @bostonskins.

Trackbacks

  1. […] back. In Part III, Joe Mercer previewed the wide receiver corps. In Part IV, Joe Ziegengeist evaluated the offensive line. In Part V, Joe Mercer reviewed Jordan Reed and the tight ends. In Part VI, Neil previewed the […]

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