After allowing the fourth-most sacks (50) in 2020, the Washington Football Team decided to overhaul the offensive line. Heading into the 2021 season, Washington returned only two starters in center Chase Roullier and right guard Brandon Scherff. The team released veteran starter Morgan Moses after the draft in favor of 2021 second-round pick Sam Cosmi.
Two days before the NFL Draft, Washington traded for guard Ereck Flowers to sure up the interior of the offensive line opposite Brandon Scherff. Left tackle Charles Leno’s release in Chicago was similar to Moses’.
So far in 2021, the offensive line for Washington has produced mixed results in the first two games. In the first contest of the season, Washington lost quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with a hip injury. On the play, Leno allowed the pressure and hit from Uchenna Nwosu that subsequently knocked Fitzpatrick out of the game. In week one, Washington allowed one sack, four quarterback hits, and seven total pressures.
In the first game of his career, rookie Sam Cosmi had a rough debut against Pro Bowler Joey Bosa. Cosmi allowed a sack and graded out with an abysmal 15.0 pass blocking grade. However, Cosmi’s play did improve in week two against the Giants. Per Pro Football Focus, Cosmi’s 77.1 overall grade was the second-highest among all rookies in the NFL. More impressively, his pass-blocking grade jumped to 77.9.
Washington’s overall performance was better against New York. According to Pro Football Reference, Washington’s offensive line allowed one sack, one quarterback hit, and nine total pressures versus the Giants.
Can Washington’s offensive line slow down the Bills pass rush?
Against the Miami Dolphins, the Bills’ defensive line dominated their division rival en-route to a 35-0 shutout on the road. Buffalo racked up six sacks and knocked Tua Tagovailoa out of the game with fractured ribs. Rookie Greg Rousseau had quite the homecoming performance in his return to Hard Rock Stadium.
The former Miami Hurricane recorded the first two sacks of his career. Fellow defensive lineman Justin Zimmer also recorded a sack. The Bills also received sacks from linebacker Matt Milano and defensive backs Taron Johnson and Micah Hyde.
Protecting Taylor Heinicke will be at a premium for Washington’s offensive line, as Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier victimized Dolphins quarterbacks with his play-calling.
With an offensive line seeking more consistent play, Frazier could opt to overwhelm Heinicke and Washington’s offensive line with various blitzes. If the Bills get to Heinicke early, it could be a long day in the first road start of his career.
Opening up holes in the ground game for Antonio Gibson will go a long way in alleviating pressure on Heinicke and the rest of the offense. Washington’s offensive line has been playing well in terms of run-blocking. Gibson is averaging nearly five yards per rush (4.8) in his first two games.
The offensive line has yet to play a complete game. However, they’ll have the opportunity to put it all together against an AFC Championship contender in the Buffalo Bills. With a strong performance in the trenches from the offensive line, the Washington Football Team can pull off the biggest upset of the young NFL season.