This was supposed to be the year that "The Hogs" came back to Washington and carried the Redskins back to the top of the NFC East. Thanks to two key free agent signings at the guard positions in addition to the duo of All Pro tackles, the Redskins looked to have what I dubbed "The Hogs 2K3". But something happened on the way to our bye week.
It has long been known that the interior line, especially the offensive line possesses "skill players". But let's be honest, when it boils down to it the line features warriors skilled in the art of hand to hand combat locked in a violent struggle to win the battle over the line of scrimmage. Whoever controls the line of scrimmage controls the game. It is really that simple. The bigger, stronger and faster man holds the advantage over men of lesser capabilities. Now this equation may change when the lesser team uses tactics such as blitzes, stunts and slants. But this is a normally successful on a limited basis as the line with the bigger, stronger and faster men will overcome and eventually dominate their opponent. This may take a drive, a quarter, a half or perhaps the game. In some instances, such as with the original "Hogs" that were "raised" by "Boss Hog" Joe Bugel, the domination started BEFORE the game based simply on reputation.
Believe it or not, we have such a line in Redskin Park. No, I admit that they sure haven't played like it, but then again maybe they haven't been given the opportunity. The Spurrier offense or the "Fun -n- Gun" isn't a scheme that allows for the line to establish themselves in the way an offensive line needs. For those meat-eaters up front, they love to run block. There is simply no easier blocking call than a run block. What that entails for the offensive lineman is to match up with your opponent and drive him to the endzone if need be. It is like having the keys to a bulldozer and simply dropping the blade and driving over anything in your path. Pass blocking is a little more difficult as now instead of being the aggressor, you are being asked to step backward and allow the defender to come at you at full speed. Basically you are being asked to absorb the defender and prevent his passing into the horseshoe shaped "pocket". Now, it appears that the blocking schemes in the Spurrier offense are the equivalent to driving the same bulldozer at a high speed through a maze while being asked to read Chinese algebra. And while it may look cool, you are essentially making a fundamental part of football more complex than it needs to be.
The Redskins know that they have a line that is capable of dominating games. They have once again enlisted the services of Joe Bugel to lend a hand in getting the offensive line on track. An offensive line that has allowed a league leading 25 sacks and has had difficulty staying focused at times this season. Some view Bugel as a blast from the past and view his return as another attempt by a desperate owner to rekindle the glory days of old. What I see is someone who can perhaps lend his expertise to a glaring problem and to a team that three weeks ago had tons of fan support and was talking playoffs for the first time in years. There is a saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it". Succeed or fail, Bugel's return is welcome because that offensive line is down right busted and in need of repair. The success of this team as well as any other, lies in the success of the line.
Good luck, Boss Hog. It is good to have you back. Now, let's see what you can do with this new generation of "hogs".