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Should the Redskins Look to Mix up their Offensive Line?

Steve Shoup

With the Redskins currently sitting at 3-6 and tied for last place in the division (technically the Giants hold the tie breaker over us), the Redskins need to start asking if it is time to make lineup moves. Not only could it improve the product on the field for the final 7 weeks this season, but it can make the Redskins better prepared for 2014.While there are a number of various moves they could look to make the area that gets most talked about is the offensive line. Trent Williams is locked in at left tackle as a true stud at the position. Outside of him though the line doesn’t have anyone you can really trust right now. Right tackle Tyler Polumbus is playing much better than last year, but he’s still a below average option. The interior of the line LG Kory Lichtensteiger, C Will Montgomery, and RG Chris Chester are all playing really poorly this year. Montgomery and Chester are the most surprising because both linemen played pretty well last season. The question has now become do the Redskins shake things up along the line? And if they do specifically what moves do they make and when do they make them?

While it is easy to suggest that the Redskins give their current back-up offensive linemen a shot to see if they can be part of the solution next year, there are some real risks involved. The line is responsible for Robert Griffin III‘s protection. While it has had plenty of issues so far and definitely needs fixing, there is plenty of room for it to go down. If the Redskins make one or more of these moves and they bust, they are only putting RGIII in line for more hits and consequently more injury risk. It’s one thing if you need these guys to fill in due to injury, but quite another to make the decision on your own. Right now there is little to suggest that any of the Redskins back-ups are capable of filling in:

OT Tom Compton:

-Compton was a 6th round pick out of the University of South Dakota. After a quiet rookie training camp where he didn’t even get a shot at the open right tackle job, Compton was cut and placed on the practice squad. Later in the year he was signed to the active roster, but never played a down. In camp this year he served as the back-up LT and again wasn’t considered for the RT job. While you saw some improvement from a year ago, Compton still struggled some in the preseason giving up some key pressures or penetrations while typically playing against back-ups. He’s also worked at guard some, but has far more tackle experience.

OG Adam Gettis:

-Gettis was a 5th round pick out of Iowa in 2012. After a solid training camp/preseason, Gettis found himself on the 53 man roster all year. He was pretty much inactive for the entire time, but was a guy who needed a year to develop. This preseason he missed some time do to injury, but he clearly showed himself to be the best interior back-up option. Gettis has a little potential and could handle either guard spot. He’s got some center experience, but more for emergency situations. He’s been active every week this season as a back-up.

OG Josh LeRibeus:

-LeRibeus was the Redskins 3rd round pick in 2012, but has not done much to prove himself worthy of that spot since. Despite two injuries to Lichtensteiger and Chester at the start of the 2012 preseason, LeRibeus couldn’t get a look at even a second string guard spot. He struggled in the preseason and was considered a suspect pick. Due to a Lichtensteiger injury at the end of the year, LeRibeus got some playing time in week 17 and the playoff game and for the most part held his own, with a few mistakes. The hope was in year two he would prove far more worthy. Unfortunately he came to camp out of shape and suffered a minor injury that set him back even more. He struggled mightily in preseason and camp, and may owe his roster spot to Maurice Hurt‘s injury. Though he’s on the 53 man roster, he’s been inactive every week this season.

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None of the back-ups have really inspired any confidence in their short careers. All three have had questionable preseason work facing mainly 2nd and 3rd stringers and vanilla defenses. Put in a starting line-up versus more exotic defenses it is very likely that any one of these three would struggle. To have more than one of them in there together is just asking for RGIII to take more hits this season. The Redskins took a big risk not going with any veteran back-ups this season, and it looks like it might be coming back to haunt them.

The offensive line may be a major concern, but it’s not worth it to risk Griffin for the chance of a minor upgrade. Chances are any of these moves will regress the offensive line and consequently the entire offense. Perhaps in a couple weeks if the Redskins haven’t improved, they can turn to one of Gettis or Compton, but it should never be both of them at the same time (outside of course from injuries). Right now there is zero reason to give Josh LeRibeus a shot. If he’s not been worth a single active roster spot this year, it is doubtful he could help at all. Whatever move the Redskins make they need to have a very short leash. If Gettis/Compton struggle it’s not worth it to let them work through it if it means risking RGIII.

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