Through the first three weeks of the season, the Redskins have allowed just four sacks. That's a credit to the entire offense, especially a line that's featured two first-year starters.
The talk surrounding the Washington Redskins' offensive line from outsiders during the offseason and training camp mostly had a negative connotation.
Yes, they returned a three-time Pro Bowler in Trent Williams at left tackle and, yes, the very first draft pick Scot McCloughan made as general manager of the Redskins was on the best offensive line prospect in the crop – Brandon Scherff – and, yes, one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL – Bill Callahan – was brought in.
Still, that didn't ease others' low expectations foor the unit.
Through three games, though, the unit has allowed just four sacks. In their first two games, the Redskins faced Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake – two perrennial Pro Bowlers – and a St. Louis Rams front seven that's considered the best group in the league.
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said it's a credit to their offseason improvement along with Kirk Cousins quickly getting the ball to the team's skill players.
"I think when you're talking about sack numbers, a lot of people want to point just to the offensive line, but really it's the quarterback also," Gruden said. "It's throwing the ball on rhythm. It's getting the ball out of your hands when there's pressure. It's tight ends in protection if need be if they're chipping. It's the running backs in protection. It's the receivers going to the right depth and being in the right spot. So when you're talking about a rhythm-type offense like we like to run, it's three-and-out, one step and throw, three steps and throw."
Heading into Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles, the unit will see a new face emerge on the left side of the line.
A countdown of the Top 10 images of Redskins center Kory Lichtensteiger during the 2014 season.
Shawn Lauvao left last Thursday's game against the Giants with a season-ending ankle injury, so the team will rely on either Arie Kouandjio or Spencer Long, who Gruden said has a "leg up" in starting, moving forward.
Perhaps the biggest X-factor in the equation? Veteran Kory Lichtensteiger, who started his Redskins career playing guard before being shifted over to center last season.
"That's why I've said all along that Kory is our most valuable player on offense," Gruden said. "He does a great job of keeping everybody intact, getting to the right people, making the communication calls, protection calls, all the different calls that we have in the run game. He's done an excellent job. So we're leaning heavily on Kory to help the two young guards."
While the Eagles have managed to record just five sacks on the season, three of which came in a 20-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Week 2, their defense can put the pressure on at any given moment, and in a hurry.
The Redskins know they have a challenge on their hand on Sunday against a divisional rival hoping to challenge their strong start up front.
"They do a lot of things," said tackle Morgan Moses. "They got some good athletic pass rushers over there. They got a lot of schemes where they do a lot of blitzes and things like that, so it's key for us to talk up on offensive line and communicate to be able to pick those things up."
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