Weakness vs. Weakness

One of the major problems the Redskins have had in their game this year is pass protection. They've allowed 23 sacks so far, putting them at a pace that would tie the team record of 61 sacks allowed, set during the 1998 season. The offensive line that season had to shuffle players up and down the line and in and out of the lineup all year due to injury and ineffectiveness, and here are the players that started most of the games at each position:

LT Brad Badger

LG Tre Johnson

C Cory Raymer

RG Joe Patton

RT Shar Pourdanish

Badger was a converted guard playing the most important pass protection position and Johnson was a much better run blocker than a pass blocker. Pourdanish actually invited fans who had been critical of his play to a film session to try to convince them that he wasn't a horrible player. By most accounts, nobody how attended the session walked away with a different opinion of Shar.

Jon Jansen, who replaced Pourdanish at right tackle the next year, has not had to hold a film session to convince fans that he's very competent player; he has a $9 million bonus check to prove that. His counterpart on the opposite side of the line, Chris Samuels, has a couple of Pro Bowl appearances and a hefty annual salary cap hit. All told, Tre Johnson may have been able to start on this line, but all of the others would be on the waiver wire.

So why the problems? There is a litany of excuses floating around out there—too many audibles, misses assignments, crowd noise, Patrick Ramsey holding onto the ball for too long, so on and so forth.

No matter what the reason, if the Redskins don't find a solution to the problem, they are doomed to another season of mediocrity. The strength of the team is Ramsey throwing to Laveranues Coles and if he doesn't have time to do that the offense is spinning its wheels.

The good news for the Redskins is that they're facing the Buffalo Bills this week and the Bills aren't a very good pass rushing team. They have just 11 sacks this year, only two more than the Redskins' total of nine, and we all know that the Skins' aren't exactly demons when it comes to going after the opposing passer. Buffalo's leading sacker is defensive end Aaron Schobel, a nice player but not exactly the kind of end that offensive coordinators shape their game plans around. In other words, he's no Simeon Rice.

The Buffalo pass rush against the Redskins offensive line is a classic instance of the stoppable force versus the moveable object. Your guess as to what will happen there is as good as anyone else's.

So what will the game turn on? The fact that the Bills can't run the football. They are dead last in the NFL in rushing, with the emphasis on dead. They'd have to double their 57-yard per game production to get into the middle of the pack in that category.

The Bills' lack of a rushing game will keep them from being able to control the ball and the clock. This will give Ramsey, Coles, and company ample opportunity to put some points on the board. The guess here is that the line will be able to give Ramsey a decent amount of time to throw and the Redskins will cash in on some of those opportunities, enough to maintain control of the game and win it.

Redskins 27, Bills 14


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