In yesterday's Sixpack, I spoke about the need to upgrade our offensive line being on the same level of importance as the need to upgrade our secondary. Let's put that comparison on hold for today--I want to have that debate and I think it will be a very good back-and-forth.
Today, I want to take the pulse of the readers to see what everyone thinks our plan should be with regard to bolstering our offensive line.
Let me briefly outline the "Ken Meringolo Plan." I know what you're thinking: here comes another plan that will somehow involve Mila Kunis and macaroni-and-cheese. I assure you all...this time, it is much more.
I know that our offensive line was rated highly by at least one respected outlet: ProFootballFocus. I welcome this kind of statistical grading system, and I won't be the guy who discounts such rankings just because it doesn't agree with my own opinion. I am encouraged by the analysis and I relish the thought that we might be better than I would give us credit for being. (And that is coming from a guy who doesn't even like relish.)
I believe that for our team to be better and for our quarterback to develop faster, we need to upgrade what we have on the offensive line. My goal isn't for this team to have an offensive line that is highly thought of, or one that is widely seen as "not the problem."
This site is called "HOGS Haven." We root for a team that had one of the greatest offensive lines in history. During that era, this team WON SUPER BOWLS. The Hogs were the face of the franchise. The Hogs were responsible for plowing the way for one Super Bowl MVP running back and two other Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks.
That is my goal for our offensive line. That is what I wish for our offensive line to aspire to--no disrespect to Robert Griffin III. I want the face of our team to be our offensive line. In a world where offense rules, having the best offensive line makes you...well, the best.
This is why I am not sated by lofty rankings by respected outlets. Whatever we are--we must be better.
I want three new starters on the offensive line in 2014, with Trent Williams being the only (obvious) player that we would not consider replacing. I think we are best served targeting two offensive linemen in free agency and one at the top of our draft. This would be stretching the resources we have to address one single "unit," but I would argue that three starters is three starters, and not just superfluous spending on the line.
Bill Polian has suggested that this free agent class will feature a deep group of some very good guards that will likely result in some teams getting very good value buys. We know that at the top of the second round, starting right tackles can be found. We know that at the top of the third round, starting centers can be found. Bruce Allen can still choose to go with a cornerback at the top of the second round and then grab an OL prospect at the top of the third. I know, I know...Josh LeRibeus came from the third round and he did not even sniff the starting lineup this past season. All I can say there is that just because you pick up the wrong girl from a bar one night does not mean you won't find the girl of your dreams there another night.
It would seem that we could end up with three new starters on the OL without breaking the bank or diverting excessive draft resources. Further, it is likely that these three new players would represent upgrades from a talent perspective for three of our current starters. The question is which of the "other four" guys would you trade out (poll question attached)?
I don't think our offensive is good enough to simply turn all of our attention to the defense. As I have said above, I have much higher standards that I wish to apply to our offensive line. I think the impact of upgrading the talent level of our offensive line is unlimited. Jay Gruden leaned on a very talented offensive line in Cincinnati. In fact, none other than ProFootballFocus rated the Bengals OL higher than the OL for the Redskins. Their comment about the weakest link on the Cincy line, Kyle Cook, was that he would still be a "solid starter on most teams."
I would like to see Jay Gruden enjoy the benefit of developing his offense behind a premier offensive line unit. I don't consider it luxury spending. I don't consider it a "Vinny move."
To me, the idea of endeavoring to build an elite offensive line unit that is in fact the face of our franchise is rooted not in fantasy, but in the actual roots of our own freaking team.
It's time to put the Hogs back in Hogs Haven. (Mila Kunis will be providing the macaroni-and-cheese.)