The trenches have let us down!
This may be the understatement of the season. To say our offensive line has under-performed may be considered by some to be a dichotomy, since is was the great PFF that just recently ranked the group as one of the best in the NFL. As the most educated fan base in all of SB Nation(thanks in part to great analysis from the likes of UK Redskins and Steve Shoup, to name a few)however, we can easily see behind that rating to the true cause of our dismay. We watch our players every game. We grade individual performances like we are critiquing our own children. We know our individual strengths and weaknesses, and can project them to positive or negative play.
Long story short - we all see the problems that reside within this group.
Part of being such an educated fan base, is not only recognizing the issues, but also finding a solution to the problems. As we all know, Mike Shanahan reads HogsHaven, and our "expert analysis", combined with the magical "best 10 plays" that Shanahan uses to evaluate prospects.
So, in the spirit of the holidays, and in an attempt to save the ole coaches job, I am finally going to recommend my 5-step-program to improving the offensive line.
5 Steps to improving the Offensive Line:
1) Sign a center in free agency.
Center is a very important piece to any offensive line. He is often looked at to be the leader of the unit, and is responsible for calling out blocking schemes and adjusting protections pre-snap. With almost half the teams in the league running a 3-4 look(or at least using packages with three down linemen)it is important for this player to be physical at the point of attack, as they are often tasked with moving 330 pound nose tackles.
I would prefer a younger, more physical center in free agency, and the reasons are two-fold. First, I want a guy who can step in immediately, and understand protection schemes and adjustments. Second, I want a guy who is a veteran, but is young enough to be able to grow with our franchise quarterback.
Alex Mack(28) CLE - 4 years $20 million(16 guaranteed)
JD Walton(26) DEN - 5 years $20 million(15 guaranteed)
Ted Larsen(26) TB - 3 years $10 million(6 guaranteed)
2) Start Adam Gettis at right guard.
Chris Chester is getting older, and he has not had a very good year. It's time to move on, and his replacement is already on the roster. Gettis is a bit on the smaller side, but he moves very well, has a very strong lower body, and plays through the whistle. This is the type of young linemen who can grow with this offense.
3) Move Tom Compton to left guard.
Tom Compton has improved as an offensive linemen between his rookie, and second season. His improvement allowed the coaches to move away from veteran tackle Tony Pashos this offseason, and name Compton as the swing tackle backing up both Trent Williams and Tyler Polumbus. I advocate a move to offensive guard because I see really good feet, an excellent hand punch, and much needed size. Compton played on the left side in college, so kicking one spot inside shouldn't be that difficult.
4) Trade for Johathan Martin.
It's pretty clear that Martin's time in Miami is up. The Dolphins will want to get something for him, and I believe he would be a good fit both on the field, and in the locker room here in DC. He is considered "damaged goods", as any team willing to trade for him has to be leery of his past actions with former teammates, but if his asking price is modest, say a 4th round pick, it would be a risk well worth taking.
Sign a free agent right tackle.
The learning curve of a quality free agent offensive tackle can be very minimal when they move to a different team. There are a few good options in 2014 to consider.
Roger Saffold(25) STL - 5 years $25 million(20 guaranteed)
Jared Veldheer(26) OAK - 4 years $20 million(16 guaranteed)
Geoff Schwartz(27) KC - 3 years $10 million(7.5 guaranteed)
5) Draft best linemen available in the third round.
The draft always has some quality linemen who are available in the mid-rounds. We may have struck out with Josh LeRibeus two years ago, but that should not scare us away from trying again.
James Hurst OT North Carolina - 6'6" 305
Morgan Moses OT Virginia - 6'6" 325
Tyler Larsen C/G Utah St - 6'4" 312