You can reach Rich Tandler by email at WarpathInsiders@comcast.net
It was about in the middle of the proceedings during Monday afternoon's practice. As the so-called skill players engaged in 7 on 7 passing drills, the grunts, the offensive and defensive linemen, went to the other end of the field to work on some one on one pass blocking.
The first to line up were the Redskins' front-line players, right tackle Jon Jansen against left defensive end Philip Daniels. After momentary contact, Daniels put on a move and blew by Jansen straight to where the quarterback would have been. Chalk up a sack for the defense. The tone for the drill was set.
The drill continued with various matchups of ends vs. tackles and defensive tackles against guards and centers. They say that two out of three ain't bad, but it's terrible when it comes to pass blocking and that's about how often the Redskins' O-linemen were able to keep their defensive counterparts at bay during the course of the activity, which lasted for a good 20 minutes.
Of particular interest was a matchup between rookie defender Kedric Golston and four-year veteran offensive lineman Tyson Walter. Golston immediately got Walter back on his heels and blew right by him the first time they lined up. They immediately lined back up and Golston got by him in an instant again. The third time was a charm for Walter as he bested the Golston on that one rep, but it was clear who had won the mini war between the rookie and the veteran.
At bit later on in a matchup of inexperienced players Karon Riley put a power move on offensive tackle Jon Alston and blasted past him. It was moments like this that had Joe Bugel watching the drill with a concerned look on his face as seen in the photo at the top of this article. Greg Blache was looking on in a much more jovial mood as pictured below.
You don't necessarily expect the offensive players to stonewall the defenders in a drill like this. Even a week in it's still early. The job that the offense has in pass blocking is very much tied into technique, an intricate balance of footwork, hand and arm technique, and torso movement. To be sure there is plenty of technique involved in pass rushing, but at the root of it are speed and power. There is good reason for the defense to be ahead of the offense at this stage of the game.
But not that far ahead. The glass half full view is that the Redskins have some outstanding young talent on the line such as Golston. The empty half of that glass is that the Redskins have yet to make much progress on developing depth along the offensive line.
This is neither doom nor gloom. We have a day less than five weeks to go before the season starts and the picture could improve greatly in that time frame. Aside from Jansen's whiff on Daniels, the starters did pretty well so perhaps their luck will hold and they will be in place all season. Very few teams have quality depth on their offensive lines.
That being said, you would rather the team had some offensive linemen who look better out there.Previous Entries
Brunell right on target. . .posted 08.06.06
Mark Brunell was super sharp in Saturday's scrimmage against the Ravens. He had zip on the ball, he had touch, and he appeared to know the offense as though he'd been playing in it for 10 years. Receivers were catching balls in perfect stride, having just to open their hands a bit to let the ball glide into their palms.
Insert the proper caveats here about they're just seven on seven drills, it's early, and so on. Just like there would be no rational reason to get suicidal had Brunell looked bad (although there are some who would have to be talked down from a ledge had he thrown three picks), there's no grounds to get all giddy over a few well-thrown darts in early August.
That doesn't mean, however, that such a performance is meaningless for one simple reason. It's much easier to stay sharp than it is to get sharp. Since the importance of everything a quarterback does is magnified, the significance of him performing well from the get-go increases exponentially. If he's throwing to the wrong spots and misfiring even when he goes to the right place, nobody else can get in the flow of things. Everyone's progress stalls until the quarterback gets it together.
We've seen this pattern year after year as the Redskins have had either a change at the starting QB spot from the previous camp or a competition for the job every year since 2001. They haven't had anyone who had started as many as 15 games the previous season return as the starter since Brad Johnson in 2000. Since that year they have started seven different quarterbacks with about a dozen different changes at the position involved. This lack of continuity has led to the offense always looking ragged in the preseason and, frequently, during the regular season.
Another reason why Brunell's excellent play is a good sign is that it may allow him to rest more prior to the season opener. Remember last year he was the second team quarterback all the way though camp, never getting a day off, going in to the preseason games with the scrubs, and so on. He's less likely to wear down as the season wears on.
While teams like the Colts and Chiefs would scoff at calling a string of 17 straight starts (counting postseason) continuity at quarterback, it's a better situation than the Redskins have been in during the past several years. If Brunell can seize the day and erase the team's one major question mark, the Redskins season could well end with an exclamation point.Big Talk. . .posted 08.05.06
His issue is that the players are talking too much about winning the Super Bowl. In his column entitled "Big Pronouncements in August Can Haunt You in December" Wise quotes Clinton Portis talking about his goals:
"Winning the NFC East. Win the NFC championship game. Winning the Super Bowl. Rushing yards don't matter to me as long as I get a ring."
And Chris Cooley on how many passes he wants to catch this year:
"We win the Super Bowl, it doesn't matter to me."
He follows with what he thinks in the real zinger, the most outrageous statement of them all:
And who can forget Mark Brunell's proclamation on Day One of training camp? "Anything short of going all the way would be a disappointment."
This, Wise says, is unorthodox and downright dangerous:
But most players gunning for a championship don't publicly talk about it. At all. Especially in training camp.
That's silly, and it's not true. It's the goal of every player to go to the Super Bowl and win it. There isn't a team out there that doesn't think it has a chance and most players, when asked about personal goals, will say that they have none and their only goal is to help their team win it all. The recent history of worst-to-first performances in the NFL over the past decade or so backs up their confidence.
And what are the supposed say? As Brunell said, quoted by Wise in his column:
"If I had said, 'Hopefully, we'll win six games,' they would ship me out of here," Brunell said yesterday. "Thirty-one other starting quarterbacks should be saying the same thing."
All Portis and Cooley were saying is that the stats don't matter, it's the W's that count. The ring is the thing. These guys aren't boldly predicting that they'll be hoisting the Lombardi in February. They are saying that they will be disappointed if they don't get there. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Certainly, as Wise points out, the Redskins aren't bullet proof. Countless things could go wrong that would derail their bid for a special season. But that doesn't mean that the players should do nothing but sit around and wring their hands worrying about it. It seems to me that the Redskins are striking a good balance between caution and optimism. Apparently, Wise disagrees.
Rich Tandler is the author of The Redskins From A to Z, Volume 1: The Games. This unique book has an account of every game the Redskins played from when they came to Washington in 1937 through the 2001 season. For details and ordering information, go to http://www.RedskinsGames.com