What critical factors have led to a constant stream of failings for the Washington Commanders offensive line in 2023?
In 2020, Ron Rivera’s first season coaching the Washington Commanders - and their last trip to the playoffs - position coach John Matsko took an eclectic combination of draft picks and free agents and turned them into one of the better offensive lines on the NFL.
Brendan Scherff, a first-round pick, battled through injury to turn in another solid season. Third-rounder Morgan Moses had a strong bounce-back year at right tackle. And fifth-round pick Chase Roullier emerged as a very reliable center.
Two free agents - Cornelius Lucas and Wes Schweitzer - outplayed draft picks Geron Christian Jr. and Wes Martin to lock down the other two spots.
Since then, the Commanders have added and subtracted players, and the net result has been that the offensive line has regressed. In 2020, inexperienced running back Antonio Gibson, managed 4.7 yards per carry because there were occasionally holes to run through. This year, quality runner, Brian Robinson Jr. is moving heaven and earth to eke out 3.8 YPC after typically being met head-on at the line of scrimmage.
In 2020, the quarterbacks were inexperienced or immobile and were sacked 50 times. That’s not a good number, but it looks like Mark Rypien and the Hogs compared to the 40 sacks through seven games given up this season.
Oddly enough, despite those numbers, the regression isn’t readily apparent in most statistics. But it is obvious on the field.
This line cannot open holes for runners and it cannot consistently protect the quarterback. Our job today is to understand why this has happened. Let’s look at five primary reasons.