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The 5 O'Clock Club: The dog that didn’t bark

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Sherlock Holmes

The 1892 book, the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is a collection of short stories. One of the stories is “Silver Blaze,”a mystery about the disappearance of a famous racehorse the night before a race and the murder of the horse’s trainer. Sherlock Homes solves the mystery in part by recognizing that no one he spoke to in his investigation remarked that they had heard barking from the watchdog during the night.

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

The fact that the dog did not bark when you would expect it to do so while a horse was stolen led Homes to the conclusion that the evildoer was a not a stranger to the dog, but someone the dog recognized and thus would not cause him to bark. Holmes drew a conclusion from a fact (barking) that did not occur, which can be referred to as a “negative fact,” or for the purpose of this discussion, an expected fact absent from the record.

When injuries happen

Normally, when injuries happen in the NFL, players and coaches alike say that, while it’s regrettable that a teammate was injured, now it’s ‘next man up’, and the team just has to find a way to win with the backup in the game.

The reality is that, while ‘next man up’ is a useful and necessary philosophy in a game like the NFL where injuries are commonplace, there’s a reason why one player is a starter and the other is the backup. Typically, when the starter goes down, and the backup comes in, it creates an opportunity that the opposing team can exploit.

The Redskins, for example, will get to find out this week just how much Josh Norman has meant to the sterling defensive efforts we seen from the team in the first quarter of the season.

The dog that didn’t bark

Not many teams have a left tackle as talented as Trent Williams, and when you look at the tandem of Williams at LT and Morgan Moses at RT, there’s an argument to be made that they are the best in the league.

That’s something to be proud of, but it also means that there is a potential weakness for defenses to exploit whenever one of them has to be off the field due to injury, whether that’s for a handful of plays or a handful of weeks.

But the fact is, for the past few seasons, since Moses emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game, the team hasn’t suffered a noticeable drop in performance when either Trent or Morgan has gone to the sideline. Redskins fans may take that consistency for granted, but, really, we should see it the way Sherlock Holmes saw the dog that didn’t bark.

The lack of problems on the offensive line when players like Trent Williams or Morgan Moses are lost to injury or suspension (remember the first four games of last season?) is something that is easy to overlook.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ty Nsekhe — a talented swing tackle, and the Redskins resident non-barking dog. He is the quintessential ‘next man up’.

We don’t think about Nsekhe very much because he quietly does his job every time he’s called upon; and he gets called upon without warning when an ankle gets rolled up on or a knee starts to hurt. Nsekhe goes in the game — left tackle, right tackle — it doesn’t matter. He goes in and does his job for four plays or four weeks. The running game still works, and Kirk Cousins’ jersey stays clean.

Out for now

Ty Nsekhe played one snap against the Raiders, but it was a costly play, because he was injured. This article appeared on 28 September:

Jay Gruden announced that backup tackle Ty Nsekhe has undergone surgery to repair a core muscle. He will be out for three to six weeks.

Nsekhe has proven to be a very valuable swing tackle. Last year he filled in for left tackle Trent Williams while he was suspended for four games and the offense performed well.

While Nsekhe is sidelined, T.J. Clemmings, a third-year veteran the Redskins claimed off of waivers from the Vikings on September 3, will be the swing tackle.

He started 31 games in two seasons in Minnesota.

Looking at my calendar and counting on my fingers, I figure that this means Ty Nsekhe is out for the Niners game, and the earliest he might see the field would be the MNF matchup against the Eagles, which would be around 3 12 weeks after his surgery. A more likely return would be against the Cowboys or the Seahawks, and it could be even later than that.

That would normally create a roster hole that other teams might be able to exploit.

Fortunately, the front office didn’t stand pat at the end of preseason. Signing T.J. Clemmings after he was cut by the Vikings was a prudent move that should provide a bit of comfort to the team and its fans this week.

[According to Jay Gruden] the Washington Redskins are expecting to be without running back Rob Kelley on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers but aren’t ready to rule out left tackle Trent Williams.

Gruden said Williams (knee) could “possibly play” on Sunday, and the team hopes to have a better feel for how his knee is holding up later this week.

“We’ll wait and see,” Gruden said. “He’s a little sore right now.”

Williams has already undergone an MRI exam, which revealed no structural damage, buoying hopes he would be back anchoring the line this weekend.

Hopefully Trent Williams will be back to full health for Sunday’s game, but we need a strong swing tackle during Nsekhe’s recovery. Nsekhe has provided a hugely reliable level of security during his 2 12 seasons as a Redskin, and his surgery leaves the team vulnerable in a way that is unusual in the loss of a backup player.

I’m hopeful that Trent will play, and that Clemmings won’t have to.

To be honest, I feel a certain level of concern about having to rely on T.J. if he needs to go in the game, which is quite different from the peace I normally feel when Nsekhe comes off the bench. When I see big number 79 rumble onto the field, I don’t hear any dogs barking. I hope they stay just as silent if Clemmings is needed on Sunday.


How many different pro football teams did Ty Nsekhe play for before he first joined the Redskins?

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