The 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of the first veteran minicamp on April 29, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine 20 questions Washington faces as Jay Gruden pieces together the roster, finalizes his playbook and preps for his first season as a head coach in the NFL.
Is there enough depth on the offensive line?
For the past two seasons the Redskins have had very good fortune when it comes to injury problems on the offensive line. The same five linemen—from left to right Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, and Tyler Polumbus—have started 31 of the 32 games since the start of the 2012 season. The Redskins’ O-line depth has rarely been tested. But the Redskins can’t rely on the football gods bringing them yet another healthy year on the O-line. Do they have the depth to withstand one or more major injuries along the line?
Tandler: In 2013 the Redskins’ safety net along the line was very much untested. Going into the year, tackle Tom Compton and interior linemen Adam Gettis and Josh LeRibeus had played a combined 22 NFL snaps, all of them by LeRibeus late in the 2012 season. Jay Gruden has shaken up the depth chart on the O-line and he may not be done. Montgomery is gone, Lichtensteiger is penciled in at center, and Shawn Lauvao is the starter at left guard. Guard-center Mike McGlynn signed a two-year free agent contract last month and he will provide some experienced depth if he can’t crash the starting lineup. The draft starts two weeks from today and it would not be surprising to see the Redskins add another lineman or two there. To add to the currently muddled picture, Lichtensteiger, Chester, and Polumbus could wind up as backups or, given that each of them carries a cap hit well north of $2 million, off of the roster. To answer the question, the snapshot at this moment shows that there is some solid depth in the middle of the line but with just Compton backing up Williams and Polumbus some possible issues at tackle.
El-Bashir: I agree that the offensive line is not a finished product right now. That’s obvious from the free agents who came for visits and didn’t sign (C Brian De La Puente, T Donald Penn) and the touted college tackles that have worked out at Redskins Park ahead of next month’s draft (Stanford’s Cameron Flemming, UVA’s Morgan Moses, Tennessee’s Antonio Richardson, Ohio State’s Jack Mewhort, to name a few). Jay Gruden may say he’s comfortable with his starters, but his actions suggest that he’s keeping his options open. In fact, it’s safe to say Gruden and GM Bruce Allen are open to drafting a right tackle with the 34th overall pick. Once the starting lineup is set, it will be much easier to assess the backup situation. But we can say this with relative certainty: LeRibeus, Gettis, Compton and Maurice Hurt had better show significant improvement this offseason. They’ve had ample time to develop. They are also Shanahan draft choices—and it’s apparent Gruden is looking to put his stamp on the unit.
- April 10: Who from the draft class of 2011 will step up?
- April 11: Who will claim the punter position?
- April 12: What 2013 draft pick will emerge to play a key role?
- April 13: Will Brian Orakpo take the next step?
- April 14: Will Jordan Reed have a Pro Bowl season?
- April 15: Will the Haslett without handcuffs scheme work?
- April 16: Who will start on the offensive line?
- April 17: What will Jay Gruden’s offense look like?
- April 18: What effect will Jackson have on the rest of the receivers?
- April 19: How much better will the pass rush be with Jason Hatcher?
- April 20: Who will replace London Fletcher at inside linebacker?
- Earlier today: Who will return punts and kickoffs?
- Today: Will special teams improve?
- Tomorrow: Who will assume London Fletcher’s leadership role?
- Today: Is there enough depth on the offensive line?