During the first half of the Redskins' 2008 campaign, the offensive line was one of the team’s greatest strengths as the team jumped out to a 6-2 record. However, during the second half of the season, the line’s age and lack of depth was exposed as the team stumbled to a 2-6 finish.
Running Back Clinton Portis averaged 118 ypg during the first half of the season and was in strong consideration for many post-season accolades. While Portis did finish the year with a Pro Bowl selection, his production took a drastic dip in the second half of the season.
The Redskins finished the season 2-6 and missed the playoffs. Portis averaged 68 ypg over that span. Anyone who was watching the games could see what the problem was. The Redskins' O-Line was aging right before your eyes.
The holes that were gaping earlier in the year simply were not there for Portis to run through late in the season. This lack of production on the ground affected every other part of the 'Skins play last season.
Quarterback Jason Campbell’s completion percentage fell from 65.9 in the first half of the season to 59.2 in the second half. The number of times he was sacked rose from 16 in the first half of the season to 22 in the second half. In fact, his numbers across the board were worse in the second half of the season.
With such an uneven 2008 campaign, the O-Line has many questions to answer heading into 2009. This offseason has seen the Redskins ignore the line during the draft while opting to rather address the need through free agency.
Here are some of the biggest concerns ‘Skins fans should have about the line in the upcoming season.
Is Stephon Heyer the answer at Right Tackle?
The injuries that slowed Jon Jansen down last season allowed him to once again prove that his time as a starter in this league has passed.
Jansen allowed a team high 6.5 sacks in 11 starts last season. He was relegated to the bench in favor of Heyer at the start of the season. However, the undrafted 6-foot-6, 330 lb third-year player injured his right shoulder early in the season and returned to split time at left tackle after Pro-Bowler Chris Samuels was injured in week 12.
Heyer's progression in his third year will help dictate how well this year's line does.
Which Derrick Dockery are the Redskins getting?
Are they getting the Pro-Bowl player that they drafted in the third round in 2003. Or are they getting the left tackle who allowed a league worst 8.25 sacks at his position last year and was cut by the Bills this offseason.
The front office of course hopes that it is the former as they signed Dockery to a 5-year contract. They hope that playing along Chris Samuels once again will allow Dockery to shine as a running-lane-clearing tackle.
Can a player who is over 400 lbs and has not played since 2005 provide the depth that this line needs? Again, the Redskins certainly hope so.
The Washington Post reported that Williams is indeed under 400 lbs now and is working to make it down to 370 lbs before the start of the season. No one believes that Williams can come in and immediately dominate, but many in the organization see the potential that a man of his size and athletic ability possesses.
While Williams probably isn't a long-term solution but could be a stopover for a more long-term solution in the future.
Can the young lineman—most of them undrafted FA's— provide the line with some much needed depth. The team is especially looking for 2008 third-round draft pick Chad Rinehart to be a contributor on the line.
Will Montgomery and tackle Burley Scott should also see some playing time this season.
Much of the 'Skins success this season rests on the shoulders of the offensive line. If they can bounce back and play like they did at the beginning of last season, there are enough weapons for this to be a top tier offense. If not, then you can expect the offense to struggle like it did in the second half of the '08 season.