The Inside Slant

The offensive line was considered a potential weakness in the preseason. Nothing has changed. So what's going on? And can the situation improve?

Yes, but only with play-calling help from Steve Spurrier. The first-year coach has not done his line any favors with the number of times he's called for passes. As one player said yesterday, someone must take the blame for throwing 43 times against New Orleans. We've heard several players grumble about the play-calling.

Here's why: it's no secret the Redskins can't pass block, yet that's what they're constantly being asked to do. Center Larry Moore, a decent blocker, is not adept at making line calls, one player said. That has led to communication breakdowns in several games, notably San Francisco and New Orleans. And that has led to blitzes.

That, the Redskins hope, can be solved through experience--remember, Moore was a guard the past two seasons. More troubling is the guard situation. It'll take much longer for that to get better as both David Loverne and Wilbert Brown are highly inexperienced. Ross Tucker is, for all intents and purposes, the same player. And he's landed in the coach's doghouse for his two sacks allowed against Philadelphia.

Guard Brenden Stai can help this area, but he's still not comfortable with the offense. The Redskins simply lack the interior it had last year and it's painful.

Then there's left tackle Chris Samuels, who has allowed four sacks this season--or three more than a year ago. The question is, why? Injuries most certainly have played a role, though Samuels refuses to use that as an excuse. Also, at times he's cheating a little toward the guards, ready to help out, and it's cost him on outside rushers.

One player suggested that line coach Kim Helton tinkered with Samuels' technique, which both the player and coach shot down. Which we expected.

One saving point could be tight end Walter Rasby. Now that he's healthy, Rasby can help more in pass blocking. He's not the answer, but he will be a help.

Another player said a big culprit for the struggles is Spurrier and his penchant for abandoning the run so fast. A 20-0 deficit forced him to throw to catch up last week, but once the score became close again he still threw. Thing is, Spurrier doesn't have the line to do that, but he has the running back to grind out drives. Until they're more balanced, the line will struggle.

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