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Redskins O-Line Ready For Any Suh-prises

Posted Sep 22, 2013

Headlined by Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh, the Detroit Lions D-line is here to wreak havoc, unless the Washington Redskins O-line can provide protection.

In the first two games of the season, quarterback Robert Griffin III has attempted 89 passes. It’s the most he’s thrown during a two-game span in his young career, 16 more than his next highest two-game total.

In fact, it’s the exact same number of passes he attempted during the entire month of December last season.

For any other team, that might be preferred; after all, the NFL trends more pass-heavy with each passing season.

But for the Redskins, it’s a sign of an unbalanced offense trending away the NFL’s top rushing offense from a season ago. And it starts in the opening 30 minutes.

Combined, the Redskins have been outscored 50-7 in the first half so far. For a team that lead the league in rushing a season ago, it’s resulted in scrapping intentions to build through the run.

“We really never got to do our game plan, to tell you the truth,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said after the Eagles game. “We had some stuff in there early, but it wasn’t just that that we didn’t get to do, we didn’t get to do about 90 percent of our game plan. It turned into a two-minute drill pretty fast.

“Equally the same,” he said this week after trailing the Packers by as much as 31. “It was almost the same situation.”

Being off-balance has kept the Redskins from emulating last season’s magic, failing to score an offensive touchdown in the first half and raking up points far too late.

The offense returned every starter from last season’s NFC East title winning squad.

So what gives?

The offensive line knows that smoother execution in the early stages of the game will appease the woes and lead to a more balanced attack where Alfred Morris can wear down tired defenses late in games.

“It will give us a chance to be multifaceted in how we attack a defense,” right guard Chris Chester said. “For as bad as the two weeks have been, we’ve done a good job in protecting Robert and getting the ball out, but we need to stay out of that situation as best we can.”

Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger echoed his fellow lineman’s sentiment.

“If we can put something together in the first half I think it’ll get us going earlier,” he said. “Once we do get going, we’ve shown that we can move it consistently.”

Whether it is the passing game or the run, they’ll have their hands full with a physical defensive line led by two-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh.

The second overall pick in the 2010 draft has amassed 137 tackles and 22 sacks in his first three seasons.

While he has yet to record a sack in the first two weeks of the season and only has three tackles, the offensive line knows that he can cause disruption at any moment.

“He’s a big, strong explosive player and we’re going to have to be able to do a lot of things in run and pass to not allow him to just be in one mode,” Chester said. “That makes any defender tough to play against if they can pin their ears back and do one thing opposed to defending the run, defend inside [and] outside zone or short [and] quick pass. We have to keep him off balance.”

While Suh may be the most notable player on the Lions defense, he isn’t the only highly-touted one.

Nick Fairley (13th overall in 2011), Ezekiel Ansah (fifth overall in April’s draft) and Jason Jones round out one of the best defensive fronts in the league.

“Over the years, they’ve put a lot of draft picks on their defensive line, and they are some of the best guys you’re going to face,” right tackle Tyler Polumbus said. “On the outside they’ve got some veteran savvy guys that are really good football players. We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us.”

If they can find a way to neutralize Suh like they did Clay Matthews and take the talented but young defensive line out of their game, then the Redskins will increase their chances at getting the first victory of the season.

“It’s going to be an all-time job for us to keep him under control,” Lichtensteiger said. “We’ve got a good game plan for them and we’ll try to take advantage of what he does and what they do.”

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