Redskins: So, apparently, Arie Kouandjio is good now
By Ian Cummings
The ‘Djio is back with a vengeance. Don’t look him in the eyes.
In the face of devastating injuries on the offensive line, Arie Kouandjio was included in the starting lineup for the Redksins on Sunday against the Seahawks. Fans prepared for the worst, remembering the scrutiny Kouandjio received in the preseason for his poor blocking.
In the end, however, the worst never came. The Redskins’ offensive line did give up four sacks in a 17-14 win over the Seahawks, but Kouandjio did not surrender a single sack. He was perfect in pass protection, against a defensive front that featured Frank Clark, Michael Bennett, Jarran Reed, Dwight Freeney, K.J. Wright, and Bobby Wagner.
Perfect. Against the Seahawks. With revolving door T.J. Clemmings at his side.
No, do not pinch yourself. That would hurt.
Yes, Kouandjio was perfect in pass protection, and his run blocking wasn’t bad either, although the whole offensive line struggled with that, to some extent. Kouandjio finished the day with a grade of 81.0 on Pro Football Focus, which is classified as ‘above-average’. It was truly a surprise performance for the 2015 fourth round pick, and it was one that really flew under the radar. Kirk Cousins was under attack all game long. But he doesn’t have Kouandjio to blame for that. Turns out, all he needed as a wakeup call was to get released and signed back!
The supposed emergence of Arie Kouandjio comes at an opportune time. Most of the Redskins’ offensive line is ailing; four starters and a backup sat out on Sunday, including both starting guards. The timetables for their respective returns are unclear. Lauvao is battling a stinger in his neck, while Scherff is still healing from an MCL sprain suffered a couple weeks ago. The Redskins signed Kouandjio, who spent the first two years of his career in Washington before being cut this preseason, just a couple of weeks ago to provide depth on a hurting offensive line. So far, it appears as if he’s done that, and more.
Even if the starters return fairly soon from this point onward, Kouandjio’s role shouldn’t diminish. While Shawn Lauvao has been serviceable this year, he’s had his fair share of drawbacks, as always. The Redskins appear to have a good thing going with Kouandjio at left guard and Tyler Catalina providing depth on the right side. Both players are getting more and more comfortable in their roles, and Kouandjio, in particular, appears to be much further along than anticipated.
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Has Kouandjio developed into a solid starter? Should he start taking reps from a healthy Lauvao? For now, nothing’s set in stone, because as good as Kouandjio played in Seattle, he was fairly dismal to watch in preseason, and in the first two years of his career. But nevertheless, he’s earned a decent amount of confidence after his most recent outing. Kouandjio played very well, and he didn’t have a lot of help around him. Is the much-maligned offensive lineman here to stay for the Redskins? Is Arie Kouandjio apparently good now? We haven’t seen enough to be sure. But Sunday’s game was a promising development.