Sunday, January 17, 2010

Let the Overhaul of the O-Line Begin and Other Signings.........

The Redskins announced the signing of C/G Kory Lichtensteiger three days ago. To me, I'm more excited about this FA acquisition than I have about many of the free agents that have come to the Redskins over the years.

I know, I know......we Redskin fans are a crazy bunch. Loyal, but delusional. This is from a fanbase that starts to think Super Bowl any time we start bringing in free agents. Off-Season Champs!!!

-Past their primes Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders (Superbowl!!!!)
- Adam Archuleta, wow (Superbowl!!!!!)
- Albert Haynesworth will fix all of our problems, especially the O-line (Superbowl!!!!)

What I like about the the move was that it wasn't splashy. We did the same thing with Casey Rabach in 2005 and despite some criticism on his performances, he's arguably been one of the most consistent players on the line from 2005-2009.

Lichtensteiger brings some depth on this team and addresses a need at the Center position (and possibly as a backup or starting  Guard) without having to use a draft pick. He was a 4th round 2008 draft pick. While that might not mean "starter" at many positions, that does mean he could be the Redskins future starting Center and that future could be sooner than one thinks. Also, he played under Shanahan in 2008, so he should know what to expect and have some familiarity with Mike and Kyle Shanahan's scheme.

Here's some info. on Lichtensteiger : profile (Vikings)
Redskins official statement
2008 Center Rankings from (Lichtensteiger was ranked as the best Center coming out in 2008) player evalution
2008 Rankings NFL Draft Countdown (4th best Center)
Redskins Blog

 Final Thoughts

- This pretty much locks up the notion that Shanahan is bringing his zone blocking scheme to DC and the NFC East. In his scheme, Shanahan requires faster, more agile and smaller offensive linemen to open holes and cutbacks for the RB. Lichtensteiger fits that profile and since he ran that scheme in 2008 he will be a perfect fit for this offense and can help his teammates with learning the scheme. I'm still wrapping my head around zone blocking since I came from the Joe Gibbs/Joe Bugel school of "Bigger is Better" and you pummel the opponent into submission with linemen that have about 50 lbs. on their opposition. If you notice, Dallas has been using that formula for the last few seasons and it has worked well for them.
Now seeing us go to smaller guys just feels weird to me especially since it is the opposite of what we've done in the past.

- Zone blocking might help Casey Rabach. His size (6-4, 295 lbs) isn't that much different than Lichtensteiger (6-3, 295 lbs). The main problems that Rabach has had is that he gets blown off the line by huge NTs or larger DTs. This scheme should help him.

- This scheme will not help the bigger guys, especially bigger guys with poor footwork. In the previous scheme, the Skins liked maulers. They liked guys who could punish you. This new scheme demands more discipline and speed.

- Keep an eye out for William Robinson (6-5, 297 lbs) one of our OTs who struggled this year in the patchwork scheme, but seems to have the intangibles to fit in this scheme. The Skins probably won't draft 4-5 new linemen this season (one hopes 2-3 at least). There will be fewer free agents b/c of the CBA ending, so you hope somebody on the current roster will step up and fight for a starting spot. Maybe Robinson could (I stress could) compete for a starting spot at RT?

Other Signings

The Skins did make a few other moves this offseason prior to the Lichtensteiger signing. Actually, the moves were made before Shanahan was officially named the head coach.
Here's the list from (click here for the entire article)

A few of these players were on the practice squad for most of the season. Alridge was a player that Mike Shanahan suggested to Vinny Cerrato in the 2009 offseason but I don't think the Skins ever used him enough to determine if he could be of much use. That combined with Alridge's fumbles pretty much ended his chances to stay on the team. Could Alridge be the next in line of Bobby Turner's 1,000 yard rushers?

Clint Oldenburg looks like another guy to keep an eye on. He's another guy that was with the Broncos (even though it looked like the 2009 team) and could be another guy that might make the team to help with the O-line.

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