Nothing Offensive About Line`s Play
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2006-09-25
Category: Washington Redskins News
The Washington Redskins' offensive line dominated the trenches on Sunday against the Houston Texans. How can a unit that committed so many penalties actually have played a good game? By dominating on virtually every play of the game on the offensive side of the ball. Virtually every play because there were the penalties, and those plays can go in the favor of the Texans.

When you're judging the collective performance of an offensive line, you usually look at a few different areas - how the line pass protected, what type of success the offense had running the ball, and how the team was able to drain the clock late in the game and protect a lead.

So how did they protect the passer?

Well Brunell wasn't exactly untouched on Sunday, but he did manage to escape without a single sack. He was hurried on a few occasions, but if the quarterback can go the whole game without going down behind the line of scrimmage, you're getting pretty good protection.

When that same quarterback is 36-years old and not as mobile as he used to be, and he breaks the NFL record for most consecutive passes completed in a single game (22), he had ample time all day long. Brunell finished 24 of 27 and for 261 yards, and calmed his detractors slightly with the performance; at least for a day or two.

So how did the Redskin run the ball?

At will, pretty much. Ladell Betts actually led the way on the ground as the Redskins had a comfortable lead early enough in th game to let Clinton Portis continue to rest his shoulder. Betts had by far his best outing of the season and showed that he is much better suited to the role of spelling Portis, than he is to filling the feature back role. He finished with 124 yards on 16 carries and added a touchdown as well.

Clinton Portis hardly played in the second half, but still managed to put up 86 yards on just 16 carries (5.4 YPC). Those statistics don't include his best play from

scrimmage on the day which was a 74-yard reception; so in limited action, all Portis did was put up 150-plus all purpose yards.

Rock Cartwright's day was highlighted by a red zone fumble unfortunately, but he had five carries for 15 yards. The five carries is the significant number. When your number three running back gets the ball five times and there were no injuries, you're dominating enough to be deep into your bench. And the Redskins were on Sunday.

The Redskins dominated the ground game no matter which running back was carrying the ball. Credit for that falls squarely on the shoulders of the offensive line, and when you run the ball successfully, it opens up everything. "Any time you're successful running, then you're going to be able to throw the ball with more efficiency," said Gibbs in his post-game press conference. That was certainly true for the Redskins against the Texans.

So how did the line play when it was the toughest, late in the game and protecting a lead?

The Texans couldn't stop the Redskins offense at any point. Were it not for the aforementioned Cartwright fumble, the Redskins would have likely capped off an eight or nine minute drive with another score late in the fourth quarter. The Redskins got the ball with 12:14 to go in the fourth quarter and put together a 15-play drive that had Washington down to the 15-yard line before the fumble. Regardless of the fumble, the offense ate seven minutes of clock.

The offense got the ball back with just under three minutes of time left to play. The Texans still couldn't stop them and after two more first downs, Brunell took a knee to run out the clock for the final time. Total domination from the offense; and total domination from the offensive line.

It would be impossible to address the line's performance without talking about their penalties. They were frequent, and they were costly. But how costly? While some of the penalties were unneccessary, for the most part they came from a unit that was thoroughly dominating. When your team is up by a score, and you've got to throw a hold on a surging defensive lineman to keep him from getting to your quarterback, go ahead.

I'm sure that the Redskins o-line and Joe Bugel will spend a great deal of time talking about the penalties this next week. Joe Gibbs said that the penalties 'mystify him', so you can rest assured that he and Buges will look long and hard at the offensive line's share, because it is the only area that the unit remotely misfired on. The line protected Brunell well. The Redskins dominated the game on the ground, and put up 500 yards of total offense. The Texans defense could not get the Redskins offense off the field at any point in the game.

There are still Redskin fans that won't be happy with this performance by the offensive line, and will point to the only thing that they can to demean a dominant performance - the penalties. But if you REALLY want to know how dominant the Redskins offensive line were on Sunday, ask the Houston Texans.
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