Sunday, August 7, 2011

Speaking Of The Redskins

For a couple of years now I've marveled at the patchwork offensive lines that the Redskins seem to trot out every year. Despite a relative lack of talent and despite playing in a tough division and despite having no direction and no continuity the team tends to perform fairly well - and by fairly well, I mean they don't roll out 3 win or 4 win seasons like ever, they are always in that 5-9 win range.

There's kind of an adage about having offensive line continuity being integral to team success, and that continuity is more important than pure talent. I kind of am thinking now that this really isn't true, that it's one of those footbally things that footbally people say but that the evidence belies the adage. Is it better to have a great line with great continuity? I'm sure it is. I just think that the degree that it really matters is probably blown out of proportion.

So this is a topic I want to start to chip away at as time permits.

So the Redskins. I'm not a fan of the team but I am definitely a fan of following the team. It's like a soap opera for men where everyone is a bad guy. It's a train wreck where you get to giggle while counting the bodies.

So looking at the Redskin line which is kind of the point, I ran a query of PFR for season starts over 7 from 2007 - 2010. The query returned 15 players who had at least 8 starts in any one of those four season. To me, this seems like an awful lot. To pick a team that seems a bit more stable I ran the same query with the Jets which returned 8 results.

So what this query tells us is that on average, the Redskin offensive linemen are averaging less than one-and-a-half seasons before being replaced. Perhaps worse (although perhaps not), Casey Rabach actually started all four of those years and is now gone. On the other hand, the Redskins do seem to be building a little continuity, as their tackles will probably be starting for the next few years and Kory Lichtensteiger will probably get every chance to be the center for the next half decade.

But even with this turmoil, the Redskins really weren't that bad. They won 9,8,4,and 6 games. So no, not great but not terrible either. Add in disruptions from Albert Haynesworth, the quarterback and running backs last year and we might think that this teams should be among the worst in the league - and yet they aren't.

So how important is offensive line continuity? Hard to say. This conversation probably doesn't advance the question very much, but maybe it will begin the discussion.


  1. I think it's the most important position, bar none. I had a near-lifetime [it seemed] of pain watching #12 running for his life behind the perenially worst O-Lines in the NFL. And even with a world-class defense run by Buddy Ryan and Bud Carson, the Eagles couldn't win a single, solitary playoff game [even at home] with those O-lines.


  2. I remember the Lions of the mid to late '80s would have a field day against Philadelphia when they played. If memory serves they set a single game sack record one of those years. I'll see if I can find it (before I look I may be conflating this memory with some game where the Tigers hit a billion home runs off Ken Dixon)


    Here it is. 11 sacks in a 13-11 victory!

  3. I don't think any QB will be sacked 104 times like Randall was, if it was that year. Just crazy.


  4. I still think QB is the most important position, but the OL is the next I think. If I were building a team, I'd do it very similar to how the Lions seem to be. Get a great quarterback, and then build both lines with great talents, and fill in the rest where available.


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