Redskins Offensive Improvements: Will Montgomery

Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

Will Montgomery may have been the most improved Redskin in 2012. He was one of the best centers in the NFL last year but in order to take that next step he has to improve his ability to snap the football.

2012 Stats

Started all 16 games

1056 snaps (2nd most on the Redskins offense)

3 Penalties (NFL Average for starting Centers = ~3)

1 QB Sack Against (NFL Average for starting Centers = ~2)

2 QB Hits Against (NFL Average for starting Centers = ~3)

9 QB Hurries Against (NFL Average for starting Centers = ~10)

Overview

Any discussion about a player on the Redskins 2012 starting offensive line should begin with the fact that the unit opened up rushing lanes for the #1 rushing team in the NFL. Take away all QB scrambles and the Redskins still rank #2 in the NFL in rushing yards. The unit paved the way for RB Alfred Morris to be the #2 rusher in the NFL and the Redskins new record holder for rushing yards in a single season, all in just his rookie year. Both figuratively and literally, Monty was at the center of this success.

Even though WIll Montgomery started 16 games for the first time in his career in 2011, he and RG Chris Chester had sub-par seasons to say the least. The Redskins drafted Josh LeRibeus as a G/C backup in 2012 to reassure those positions. However, Shanahan still believed enough in Montgomery to re-sign him to a four year deal. And it payed off. Montgomery played in all but 6 snaps the entire year en route to finishing season as the #5 rated Center in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Oh and by the way, he started the last two regular season games and the playoff game against Seattle with a Grade 2 MCL sprain.

Believe it or not, Alfred Morris made his money running up the Middle-Right A-Gap between Montgomery and Chester. The Redskins elected to run him there most often (56 carries) and did it with the greatest success (317 yards). Montgomery has the "snap and go" lateral quickness along with the ability to locate and engage defenders at the second level that Shanahan values in offensive lineman. He fits the mold perfectly.

Improvements for 2013

Snapping!: Looking back at Griffin's major injuries from the past year, there were bad Montgomery snaps at the center of both plays. Think back to the Baltimore game. Griffin gets his leg whip-lashed after a collision with Haloti Ngata. He drives the team down to Red Zone when Montgomery snaps prematurely and low. Griffin is forced to pick up the ball quickly and throw it in the back of the End Zone resulting in an Intentional Grounding penalty. He's immediately taken out of the game after the injury worsened.

Now consider the infamous day in Seattle. Lost among the "blame game" contestants is Will Montgomery. People blame Griffin for forcing it, Shanahan for "wrecking the Ferrari," and Dan Snyder for not investing enough money into maintaining FedEx field's grass. However, it was Will Montgomery's poor snap at Griffin's feet that forced him to go down awkwardly to get the ball. If that snap hits him in the hands, who knows what we would be talking about right now.

It may seem like this is making a mountain out of a mole hill but snapping the football is an essential art good centers have mastered. You'd think that with the shorter distance between the quarterback and center in the Pistol formation Montgomery would be able to put more pace and accuracy on his snaps but I still recall plays where Griffin one-handed some snaps away from his body or went down low to get them. Also, Montgomery has the luxury of not being the one responsible for reading Griffin's silent count signals. That is Chris Chester's job. Chester looks back over his shoulder for the signal and then relays the signal to Montgomery with a tap, making Montgomery's job much easier. Improving this aspect of his game will go a long way in allowing the offense to move with a fluid tempo.

Bottom Line:

Will Montgomery is a lock to be the starting center for your Washington Redskins. His 2012 season warrants his relatively unopposed status. Some are hoping recently acquired G/C Kevin Matthews out of Tennessee can provide some competition there but if Kevin got cut by his own father (Legendary O-Lineman and current Titan's O-Line coach, Bruce Matthews) in Tennessee then I wouldn't count on him making any other team. If Monty picks up right where he left off last year the Redskins will be in good shape at the center position. However, with an upcoming off-season where he will be snapping more to Kirk Cousins than Robert Griffin, Montgomery will have to be sure to work with them both to adapt to and master both of their cadences.

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