“Stuck in the Middle With You”: Why Will Montgomery needs to remain the Redskins Starting Center
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One of the more popular offseason theories among Redskin fans, is to replace starting center Will Montgomery. There are a couple contenders for fans to replace Montgomery, but most of the attention has focused on two rookies: 3rd rounder Josh LeRibeus and 5th rounder Adam Gettis. This is despite the fact that neither rookie played center in college. To start either one of these guys over Will Montgomery would be a huge mistake and would likely hinder any progress this offense will make next season.
Now earlier in the offseason replacing Montgomery was a plausible discussion as veteran center’s Chris Myers and Scott Wells were on the free agent market. Myers made a lot of sense as he was drafted by Mike Shanahan in Denver, and then starred under Kyle Shanahan in Houston. He’s been a part of that system his entire career, and absolutely excels in it. It would have been a no-brainer to upgrade Montgomery with Myers. Scott Wells was the other option that made sense for Washington. He hadn’t spent his entire career in the Shanahan system, but he is familar with the west coast offense, and has developed into one of the better centers in the league. Once Myers and Wells were off the market, there is little reason why the Redskins would make a change.
Despite an obvious need at guard between Kory Lichtensteiger returning from injury and Chris Chester coming off a down year, LeRibeus and Gettis seem to be getting more attention about their ability to take over the center position. While there have been reports of both players (particularly LeRibeus) working at center in mini-camps, it is hardly cause to for the fans to call for Monty to be replaced. It’s likely that both players are only working there to increase their overall value to the team. With so few spots for back-up offensive linemen, it is essential that the Redskins depth players be versatile enough to play multiple offensive line positions.
I realize most people want to make the move so the idea that RGIII can grow and develop with his center for the next 10 years, but is that really what’s best for this team? Rookie quarterbacks tend to struggle, so making things as easy as possible around them is the best way to get an early return on your investment. Giving a rookie quarterback a solid veteran center, can help take a lot off the quarterback’s plate. Montgomery can make the blitz calls next year, allowing Griffin to focus on other aspects of his game. In addition the level of protection should be better, which will make Griffin happier. I especially think it would be very risky to play an inexperienced center with Griffin. I think the last thing the Redskins would want to see is a center who’s never snapped before, trying to put it in a QB’s hands who didn’t take too many snaps under center.
Now this is not me saying that Will Montgomery is a top notch center, or that he will have the position locked down for the next 4-6 years, but rather that he is the man for the job now and should have a positive influence on the team this season. Montgomery has been solid contributor each of the last three seasons for Washington. And if not for injuries forcing him to move positions for three games, he would have probably been the Skins most valuable offensive lineman last year. Montgomery lacks star potential, but he’s consistent and a hard worker. He struggles some versus big tackles, but he’s smart and does a decent job of resetting himself. A guy like LeRibeus or Gettis might be the long term future, but they have no shot (at least they shouldn’t) of unseating Montgomery this year.