After drafting Brandon Scherff in the first round last year, we all seemed to agree that we had two bookend tackles in the stable. (That is boiling down our months of arguing into a very general statement of course.) The truth is we were right. We had two bookend tackles...but one of them was not Brandon Scherff. With the arrival of the nasty offensive lineman out of Iowa and the emergence of a player that many of us were down on, the Redskins coaches were presented with a very interesting opportunity. The right side of Scherff and Morgan Moses was born.
I spent all last season saying the words, "Without Scherff, there is no Moses." I think that takes quite a bit of credit away from the player that deserves the lion's share of it: Morgan Moses. We could and should heap praise on Bill Callahan as well, a coach who has brought back the edge to this city's favorite unit (hold it together, people). All I was saying was that if Scherff wasn't so good and versatile, he would be on the field at right tackle instead of right guard. I have a hard time envisioning the team sitting their top pick so that Moses could play tackle and...[insert nightmarish scenario name here] could play guard. The only way this goes down last year is if Scherff can slide in and be effective at guard right away. Check.
After the disappointing 2014 campaign (even if you don't remember every season from the last decade specifically, you can rest assured it was probably disappointing), the Morgan Moses Experience was not exactly selling out stadiums. As a third-round pick out of the University of Virginia, both the team and its fanbase expected production out of the rookie lineman. By the end of that season--one in which Moses was by no means a star--the young tackle found himself requiring surgery after suffering a Lisfranc injury. In shocking fashion, Moses rebounded from both the surgery and the underwhelming rookie season in time to win the starting right tackle job in training camp ahead of the 2016 campaign. Last year's offensive line ranked fourth in the league in sacks allowed (27), and enabled Kirk Cousins to set team records in passing yards (4,166), attempts (543), completions (379) and 300-yard passing games (seven).
As solid as I thought Scherff was last season, I have to tip my hat to the way Moses locked down the right side, facing countless top-tier pass rushers. We have seen what happens when the right tackle is not up to the task. I hate to pick on Stephon Heyer--especially since he is a Maryland guy and Moses is a UVA guy--but it is a perfect example of a team trying desperately to fill a hole with a warm body. He was serviceable, but not good enough to allow your offense to execute. Simply put (and you could say this for more than just one guy), Moses allowed the Redskins to execute Jay Gruden's offense. That we were able to pair up Moses and Scherff on the right side last season is the kind of thing that happens to teams very rarely. When you are successful in upgrading your offensive line from a talent perspective, while simultaneously getting WAY younger there, great things become very possible.
Heading into the 2016 season, we certainly hope there is a guy on our roster that has the chance to make a similar leap in performance...the aforementioned "Moses Leap." I think I need to tip my hat to ih8dallas. I believe it was Chris who used this phrase first on The Audible a few months ago. (Apologies to Steve Shoup if I have that wrong!)
What about another third-round pick from the EXACT SAME DRAFT??? Spencer Long was picked by the Redskins a mere twelve spots after Morgan Moses in the 2014 draft. He came from another school with a rich offensive line tradition (Nebraska). He is also a mean, strong player with size that the team is desperately hoping can lock down a starting job this year (which remains to be seen). I am not even concerned at this point if he plays center or left guard. If he is good enough to play on this offensive line, I will take him at either spot. If we learned anything from the Scherff/Moses pairing, it is that this team will seek the best way to get as much talent on the field as possible. That is...just...crazy...enough...to work.
There are plenty of other candidates, so have at it. If you are going to say Preston Smith, be sure to throw out some rather lofty stat predictions, because he finished last season so hot, it would have to be a gargantuan season for him to lay claim to the "Moses Leap Award."