Washington Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III (pictured, left) will get most of the credit for the Redskins’ 40-32 opening day victory over the New Orleans Saints. But the fact of the matter is, he wouldn’t have been able to throw for 320 yards and two touchdowns if not for the great play of the offensive line.
The unit of Trent Williams (pictured, right), Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, and Tyler Polumbus cleared the way for the Redskins to rush for 153 yards. They allowed Griffin III to be sacked only once, and Washington held the time of possession advantage by almost a two to one margin, holding the ball for almost 40 minutes. That formula keeps prolific All-Pro Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees on the sidelines.
Griffin III completed his first eight passes, many of them around the line of scrimmage. However, receivers Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss, and Brandon Banks turned those short passes into gains of positive yardage. That doesn’t happen without good downfield blocking by the offensive line, as well as other receivers.
Here’s additional proof of Washington’s solid offensive line play: rookie running back Alfred Morris logged 28 carries for 96 yards and scored two touchdowns in his NFL debut. And the offense did not commit a turnover, while forcing three Saints’ turnovers. Williams and Lichtensteiger were called for a false start and holding penalty respectively. Those were the only penalties called on the offensive line, and both came in the second half, with the Redskins holding a comfortable lead.
The current Washington Redskins’ offensive line will never measure up to “The Hogs”. The Hogs were group of offensive linemen led by NFL Hall of Famer Joe Jacoby, who paved the way for three Redskins’ Super Bowl titles in the 1980s and 1990s. The current Washington offensive line needs to carry the momentum of their strong play against the Saints into St. Louis against the Rams. Defensively, St. Louis is led by defensive end Chris Long, who led the team in sacks with 13.0 in 2011. Long’s stellar defensive play is supplemented by linebacker James Laurinaitis, who led St. Louis in tackles with 142 in 2011.
But at least for one afternoon in New Orleans, Redskins’ fans saw their offensive linemen play as a functional unit capable of great things. At least it’s a step in the right direction.