The Redskins first and second team offensive lines got plenty of reps against the Buffalo Bills first team defense, and the units combined for over 200 yards rushing on the afternoon. Here are some thoughts and observations from the first half of Saturday's game.
Trent Williams - TW was a man-beast against the Buffalo pass rush, pretty much stoning any rusher that attempted to get near his quarterback. On Santana Moss' long reception at the 4:30 mark in the first quarter, Williams picked up a double blitz off his corner(both the safety and CB came) and took both players to the ground and out of the play. His run blocking was stellar as usual, and his overall performance showed why he's one of the best offensive tackles in the game.
Tyler Polumbus - Polumbus wasn't as effective as his counterpart on the left, as he was struggling again with defenders crossing his face, and seemed yet again to be too high in his pass set, making him susceptible to the bull-rush. This was evident in the third play of the game, where Polumbus had Davis lined up to his right. Davis released into his route, and Polumbus stood straight up, and was beaten across his face by the defensive end. Grossman was given less than 2 seconds to release the football. Had it not been a quick pass, it would have been an easy sack for the Bills. He was responsible for another pressure inside the red-zone later in the first quarter when he did not effectively pick up a twist-stunt, and allowed immediate pressure to the inside. Grossman smartly threw the ball away. Polumbus seems to do well against the larger 5-technique defensive ends, but struggles with the speed rushers. He did however show pretty well in the run game, especially on cut-off blocks on the backside. He showed excellent range on Helu's 12 yard run to the left late in the first quarter as he reached the near-side defender, got to his playside shoulder, and turned him inside, allowing Helu to burst upfield and gain five extra yards.
Kory Lichtensteiger - I thought Kory did a nice job in the run game. He was getting to the second level(one of his strengths)well, and did a nice job on his cut-off blocks when he arrived. He also showed well in pass-pro as he kept his head on a swivel, and did a good job helping his linemen and picking up stunts.
Chris Chester - One thing I noticed about Chester since he arrived in DC was how well he uses his hands on both run, and pass pro. He always seems to set his feet properly under his body, maintains good balance, and stones defenders with good hand placement. This was evident yet again against a good Buffalo defensive front. Chester is also one of the best zone blockers in the league against the run. Either frontside or backside, he works hard to get to the proper shoulder of his defender, and is so quick with his feet, that he is usually able to reach that point, and turn his man inside. He also excels at the tandem block, as he has an effective punch when he is up against a gap defender, and can easily slide off that block onto the linebacker. He showed off these skills against Buffalo's multi-dimensional defensive fronts.
Will Montgomery - Monty struggled a bit in run blocking when he had a guy shaded to his A-gap. He had a tough time generating movement against the big Bills front. Inside the 15 yard line, late in the first quarter, he tried to generate movement on a run up the middle, and was stood up, and driven back into the runner. He did however do a nice job on his angle blocks when the defensive tackles were in a true 3-technique. Here, Monty wasted little time getting to his cutoff angle, and finished the block nicely once he arrived.
The Second Team:
The player who stood out to me most was Tom Compton. Watching how much he has improved his strength and technique from his rookie year last season gives me hope for the future. Early in the second quarter we saw his athleticism as he took a nice loop-pull around left end, got to the linebacker in pursuit of the run across the field, and made a nice block, allowing Helu a seam. I did see a few areas for improvement however. At the 11:20 mark in the second quarter, Compton took a great backside angle towards the Will linebacker on a stretch play to the right. All the defensive momentum was going right, and this opened a huge cutback lane for Helu up the hash. Compton didn't play under control, and his head dropped causing him to lose vision of his target. He whiffed on the defender, who ended up making the tackle on Helu. Had Compton made that block, Helu could have had a nice gain on the play. However, on the following play, Compton set up nicely in pass-pro and stoned his defender while turning him slightly outside to give White a nice throwing lane. Pat hit Robinson with a strike on a slant pass for a first down. At the 7:30 mark in the second quarter, Compton again showed good feet setting up in pass-pro. He played with his weight over the balls of his feet, and stoned the defender, allowing a clean pocket for White to complete a pass in the left flat to Paulsen. Two plays later, White pulled a read option around left end. Compton buried the defensive tackle, who slanted to his inside shoulder, creating a huge seam for White to run. With Young leading the play, White was able to get in for the score. At the 3:10 mark in the second quarter, Compton attacked the outside shoulder of the defensive tackle, and drove him five yards down field, allowing Helu a nice gain. Overall, a solid showing in the first half against the top Buffalo defensive.
Adam Gettis is another young linemen who showed well in extended playing time against the Bills first and second team. He wasn't perfect like Chester was, but he really showed a lot of grit, and constantly played to the whistle. It's pretty evident that he has worked hard this offseason on strength, as his base anchor has improved greatly. Gettis did a great job early in the second quarter on a Grossman deep ball that fell incomplete. He pushed his stunting defender outside to the tackle(Pashos), and picked up the twist inside by the defensive end giving Grossman a clean pocket. At the 10:00 mark of the second quarter, Gettis made an outstanding block on a off-tackle lead run. He drove the defensive tackle outside, then peeled off onto the linebacker, knocking him to the ground. The play went for just three yards, but that was the fault of Paulsen, who was stood up by the defensive end, and beaten badly. At the 8:35 mark in the second quarter, Gettis again showed good ability getting to the second level defender, and he got just enough of his man to allow a big cut-back by Helu for a nice gain. Helu fumbled, but recovered the ball on the play. One play later, Gettis turned the defensive tackle inside, and Pashos made a good block on the linebacker allowing Helu to get to the outside for a nice gain. Gettis made another nice block inside of two minutes on a White run around right end. He sealed his defender, and collapsed the corner. Great improvement by the second-year guard.
Josh LeRibeus did not show well at all. He was standing straight up off the snap, and was allowing the defender into his body. This resulted in him often ending up in the backfield. On the same run in the second quarter where he and Compton pulled around left end, Josh failed to get to the outside shoulder of his defender or generate any movement, forcing Helu to take a much deeper angle to the line of scrimmage. At the 1:48 mark in the second quarter, Josh was blown up yet again, and wound up three yards into our own backfield. His defender made the play on Helu. He generated little movement up front against the big Bills front, and was easily out-played by his counterpart on the opposite side(Gettis).
Both Pashos and Matthews were hit-and-miss with the second unit. Both showed inconsistencies, with a few bright spots mixed in. Although Polumbus didn't get as many snaps as Pashos did, I will say Tony looked slightly better against pretty much the same defensive front. I still think Polumbus will be our opening day starter though.