Key matchup: Redskins offensive line vs. Giants defensive line

Posted Nov. 29, 2012 @ 1:24 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

In today’s “Key Matchup,” PFW’s Eric Edholm examines the battle of the Redskins’ offensive line vs. the Giants’ defensive line.

Redskins offensive line vs. Giants defensive line

These units squared off this season for the first time in Week Seven, and despite the 2012 debut for Giants DT Chris Canty, this battle was won squarely by the Redskins. They compiled 480 yards of offense and controlled the clock (nearly 33 minutes time of possession) despite four turnovers. That’s tough to do — against any front, much less a talented one such as the Giants'.

Despite the three sacks allowed on QB Robert Griffin III, two were not the direct fault of the line. One came on a QB draw and the other because of a missed block by TE Niles Paul, who just had been shifted into more of a blocking role with Fred Davis out.

What stands out on tape watching that first game was how the Redskins took over the line of scrimmage, especially on third downs. What allowed them to do so often was getting into manageable situations with good first- and second-down plays. But even in a few third- and fourth-and-long situations, the line’s extended pass protection was notably excellent. It might have been the unit’s best game of the season up front, all things considered.

OLT Trent Williams, C Will Montgomery and ORG Chris Chester played especially strong games against the Giants, but the entire group merits mention. On the fifth play of the Redskins’ opening series, Williams drove Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (who had something of a rough game, despite a sack and forced fumble) seven yards as Alfred Morris finished off a power run play behind him. Chester made his mark in both the zone run game and on a few screens, getting out to the second level and clearing out the Giants’ linebackers. He and Montgomery did a nice job against the Giants’ noted D-tackles, Linval Joseph and Canty among them.

Joseph was effective slanting on a few plays and got inside ORT Tyler Polumbus for a forced fumble. Williams also was beat by DE Osi Umenyiora on one sack with a little up-and-under move to get the big tackle back on his heels and off balance.

But for the most part, the Redskins established things up front, and it allowed them to rush for a whopping 248 yards — 120 by Morris, 89 by Griffin, and even 26 on five carries by FB Darrel Young. There were times when the Redskins moved the Giants’ line several yards and clearly gained leverage more often than not, even against a few stacked boxes. It's pretty shocking to go back and look at it and see just how dominant they were at times.

The Giants rebounded defensively from their pre-bye blues with a good performance against the Packers. By one account, there were 17 pressures on 33 pass plays, consistently forcing Aaron Rodgers off his spots and messing up Green Bay's timing pass plays. The Packers ended up rushing for 116 yards (4.5 per carry) Sunday night, but the only two runs longer than eight yards were a Rodgers scramble and a change-up rush by WR Randall Cobb.

After the first series, during which it appeared the Giants were timing up the Packers’ offense and rushed very carefully, the wheels came off. They consistently whipped the Packers’ beleaguered O-line nearly the rest of the night from that point on.

Since the Week Seven meeting, the Redskins have stayed strong up front. Montgomery led a strong performance by the O-line in the Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys. This should be an outstanding rematch Monday night.