It’s Thanksgiving. For most of us, that means gathering with friends and family, eating an amazing dinner, and of course, debating (arguing) about pretty much everything.
On this week’s episode of The Audible, we had a good old-fashioned family flare-up worthy of the Thanksgiving dinner table. The topic was one that has seeped into the conversation around D.C. over the last couple of weeks.
When Trent Williams was suspended by the NFL, Ty Nsekhe stepped up to man the left tackle position. By all accounts—and after only two games—he has held his own. Before Trent’s suspension is over, we will have watched Ty play four games (assuming all goes well health-wise). At that point, the Washington Redskins will get their best player back, 100% healthy. Not only is he the best player on our roster, he has been touted as one of the best left tackles in the entire league.
What in God’s name would possess anyone to suggest that Trent should come back and play inside at guard instead of taking his natural position at the bookend spot?
I don’t want to stifle the discussion below, but I feel obligated to talk a little about my stance here—see if you can guess where Kevin stands by listening to the podcast.
First and foremost, you better have a damn good reason if you are even considering playing a healthy Trent Williams anywhere but at left tackle. No matter how good Ty Nsekhe plays, he won’t ever be Trent. I would hope we could all agree on that. That said, what if Ty plays well enough over a four-week span where you feel like Kirk’s health is not in jeopardy with him at left tackle? That is a HUGE “what if.”
What if the drop-off with Ty at left tackle is less than the increase in play with Trent at left guard? Are we selling Shawn Lauvao too short? Is Trent just automatically that good at guard despite having next to zero experience there? Is the emphasis on bulk such a priority that you would make this move based on that alone? I mean, imagine having a 700+ pound left side of the line to run for short yardage behind!
One thing that gets lost in this argument is that Trent isn’t getting benched. The discussion is centered around where he plays, not if he plays. I get that he is a left tackle, and you would essentially be moving him off of a spot that not even the league’s best defensive ends can, but he would only be inches away. I feel like we had a mini-version of this last year when Brandon Scherff moved inside to right guard in training camp. It was a luxury move because Morgan Moses was capable of playing right tackle (and only right tackle), and it created one of the most solid right sides in the NFC. We spent months second-guessing that one (well, some of us anyway). This would be different for a variety of reasons: Trent is an All-Pro left tackle and the Scherff move was made in the summer when there was a ton of time for the offensive line to gel. We are also better at left guard now than we were at right guard then (right?).
This discussion is still somewhat academic because I think the Vegas odds of Trent playing anything but left tackle are rather slim. For starters (no pun intended), the play of Ty after four games is one of the most relevant factors, and we have only seen half of that. There is also the comfort factor that must be present when your All-Pro left tackle is on the field and handling the blind side. Finally, Trent has been around for a while, and he has more than earned his spot on the field with his play on the field. He might not take kindly to being asked to play somewhere else.
I’ll throw a couple more thoughts at you before I turn it over to you guys to skewer me. One is the nature of Trent’s suspension (he has been butchered by plenty of people more important than me over this). Do you think it’s possible that the team could go to him and ask him to “do what’s best for the team” if they feel like the best thing for the team is having both Ty and Trent on the left side? Wouldn’t he be somewhat obliged to acquiesce? (I bet he could even do it without holding a Tony Romo-style press conference about it!)
What about packages where we see Ty outside and Trent inside? If the Redskins thought the concept had any merit at all, wouldn’t you trot that formation out a few times throughout the game? We see the extra tackle run out all the time, but what if the extra tackle was actually the THIRD extra tackle on the left side?!? That is a lot of beef.
For my part, the idea must be considered. I reserve the right to vote for this after watching Ty for two more weeks. I liked the way he handled himself against a very good Minnesota Vikings defensive front.
Just like every holiday throw-down argument with your family, this won’t be resolved over turkey and green beans. Just like every holiday throw-down argument with your family, everyone is going to “be right.” Just like every holiday throw-down argument with your family, someone will ask, “Do you even remember what happened to Joe Theismann when Joe Jacoby was not on the field that one fateful play against the New York Giants?!?!?!?!”
The turkey and green beans make it easier to deal with, though.