The play of the line was always going to determine the success or failure of the Redskins' offense this season. Based on their showing against the Bears, the line will be the Redskins' Achilles heel this season.
In particular, the suspect front five created the one sight Redskins fans don't want to see this season: rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III running for his life. After a successful cameo against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, intense pressure reduced Griffin's second outing to an error-strewn horror show.
What is most worrying is that there were problems at every phase of the offensive front. Beginning out on the edges, tackles Trent Williams and Tyler Polumbus were ravaged by Chicago's defensive ends.
Julius Peppers dominated Williams, showing that the 2010 fourth overall pick is still blighted by inconsistency and below-par mechanics. Over on the other side, veteran Israel Idonije ran riot.
The 31-year-old notched 2.5 sacks and stripped the ball from a clearly flustered Griffin in the first period. As bad as Polumbus was, he is only subbing for Jammal Brown, who has also failed to inspire confidence on the right side.
It's hard to escape the feeling that Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen should have taken more steps in free agency to address that problematic right side. Things weren't much better for the Redskins anywhere along the interior either.
Center Will Montgomery and young guards Adam Gettis and Maurice Hurt were routinely manhandled in the middle. As a result, the running game suffered at key times. Too much central penetration was a problem for the Redskins last season, and the issue appears no closer to being rectified.
A problem is the lack of size at the heart of Washington's front five. Shanahan's zone-based blocking scheme demands fleet-flooted linemen who are able to quickly shift and adjust in space.
The trade-off is that these linemen lack the elite pro size to physically dominate in the trenches. Gettis weighs just under 300 pounds, and Chicago's defensive tackles ruthlessly exploited the comparatively slight rookie.
Montgomery is a solid technician, but he lacks the raw initial strength to withstand a powerful bull rush. He plays without the aggression one often associates with life in the pits, and it may be time to give rookie Josh LeRibeus an extended look.
In fairness, the Redskins were missing their normal starting guards, Chris Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger. However, no matter who mans the middle, they have to do a better job of maintaining the integrity of the pocket and creating rushing lanes.
The Bears do possess a stellar pass rush, thanks to a talented and deep rotation up front. However, that doesn't excuse the nightmare performance by the Redskins O-line starters.
Creating greater solidity up front has to be the priority for Shanahan and his staff during the rest of preseason.
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