Washington’s offensive line will be key to a road win

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Washington Football Team offense huddles during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Washington Football Team offense huddles during the first quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images) /

The offensive line for the Washington Football Team has been a pleasant surprise all season. Sure, there have been some hiccups along the way, like Charles Leno allowing the hit that ended Ryan Fitzpatrick’s season. And they have also allowed 18 sacks in the past five games. Last week, the offensive line also struggled against the Seattle Seahawks in short-yardage situations.

However, the unit has played well. Washington has won three straight games, and the offensive line is a significant reason why.

Against the defending champs, Washington’s offensive line controlled a stout Buccaneers defensive line. As a result, Washington won the time of possession battle and kept their defense fresh. More importantly, the WFT offense limited Tom Brady and the Bucs offense to 20:52 seconds of game time.

On the road in Carolina, injuries once again factored into the equation. After losing starting center Chase Roullier for the season, Tyler Larsen, and emergency replacement Wes Schweitzer, sustained injuries against the Panthers. As a result, Keith Ismael saw his first game action. Despite the injuries, the offensive line responded with 190 rushing yards.

Despite injuries, the offensive line’s depth for the Washington Football Team has been on full display. Position coach Jon Matsko deserves a ton of credit for his job with the offensive line.

The following week, the unit picked up where they left off, winning in the trenches again. Washington attempted their most rushes as a team this season with 43. As a result, the Football Team had their first 100-yard rusher in 2021, as Antonio Gibson recorded the third such game of his career.

According to ESPN’s analytics and metrics, the offensive line for the Washington Football Team is playing exceptionally well. They possess the third-highest pass-block (67 percent) win rate in the NFL. But, even more impressive, the unit is first in the NFL (77 percent) in run-block win rate. Head coach Ron Rivera prioritized the offensive line this past offseason, and the moves are paying off.

Left tackle Charles Leno Jr has arguably been the best free-agent pickup for Washington. He has a total grade of 78.6, according to Pro Football Focus. The trade for Ereck Flowers has paid off for Rivera and the Washington Football Team. He’s continued his solid play from the 2019 season and has been dominant at times. When healthy, Brandon Scherff remains as one of the best in the NFL at his position.

Swing tackle Cornelius Lucas is another player who is one of the more underrated signings during Ron Rivera’s tenure in Washington. He’s started four games this season and has played well. However, he’ll have a stiff matchup versus defensive end Maxx Crosby that could arguably dictate the game’s outcome.

The Washington Football Team o-line has to overcome injuries to win four straight.

Ereck Flowers didn’t practice due to a foot injury, which is concerning for the offensive line. As a result, Flowers is questionable on the injury report. If he can’t play, Saddiq Charles will likely get the start. Charles was exposed a bit at right tackle in his only start at Denver, but he can play guard. Keith Ismael will likely get the first start of his career at center if Tyler Larsen can’t play because of a knee injury.

Las Vegas possesses one of the more underrated defensive lines in the NFL. Edge rushers Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are having exceptional seasons. Ngakoue has three multi-sack games this season and leads the Raiders with eight sacks. Crosby is second on the Raiders with five sacks. In addition, his 24 quarterback hits are the third-most in the NFL.

2017 first-round pick Solomon Thomas has revived his career in the Silver and Black. In 11 games, he has a career-high 3.5 sacks. Las Vegas has the sixth-most quarterback (46) hits in the NFL. Although they don’t have a dominant pass rush as a team, they have players to make life difficult for Washington Football Team on passing downs.

In a short week, offensive coordinator Scott Turner should opt to continue his commitment to the running game. Not only has he gushed about how much the offensive line loves it during a recent press conference, but Las Vegas has the 25th ranked run defense in the NFL. So the best way to limit the NFL’s leading passer in Derek Carr is to keep him off the field.

The Las Vegas Raiders scored 36 points last week and went over 500 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. It sounds cliche, but as long as the offensive line for the Washington Football Team can win in the trenches and run the football, they can offset the Raiders pass rush. If the offensive line can do that, the WFT should pick up their first win of the season versus an AFC foe and their fourth consecutive win.

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