Monday, December 31, 2012
The Redskins' Unsung Heroes
I've been a Redskins for most of my 37 years on Earth. I started rooting for them as a 7 year old and haven't stopped. Needless to say that I was a bit giddy watching my Redskins win the NFC East for the first time since 1999 ... when I was a young newlywed all of 24 years old.
My wife got me a Griffin III jersey for Christmas. She also got my 5 month old son and almost-three year old daughter jerseys too. I have been proud to wear my Skins gear around for the last two months (I always wore it before, but would hear some taunts every now and then).
Of course, RG3 gets all the run. The die-hards knew ... and the casual fans found out last night ... that Alfred Morris deserves a lot more credit than he gets. The patchwork defense that lost Brian Orakpo, Adam Character and a slew of safeties early this season has become much more formidable of late. Despite all the drops, the receivers were a big improvement over the past several seasons.
But the two things I've noticed are two things that only die-hard Redskins will find joy in. A healthy offensive line and a kicker who can actually make kicks.
Maybe only the Redskins fans value the offensive line like they do. Thirty years after The Hogs ruled the trenches, their impact is still all over the franchise. They are beloved. And despite the faces and the names changing, The Hogs are a moniker that may be owned by one era of linemen but are slapped on any Skins' really good line.
The 2012 line may have not been elite ... or maybe not even that great. However, they did block for the league's top rushing attack, where two rookies led the team in yardage. More remarkable, this line stayed healthy for virtually all of the season. Unreal! The die-hards know that over the past several years, this line has been anchored by a bunch of aging veterans who would enter each season with a laundry list of ailments and a hot-shot youngster at left tackle that seems to stay in trouble.
This year? Trent Williams, Chris Chester, Will Montgomery, Kory Lichtensteiger and Tyler Polumbus has played virtually every snap together. No real jumbling of the line. No playing out of position. No lack of continuity. They've stayed on the field together and their zone blocking scheme has helped Morris break out to the 3rd highest rushing total for a rookie in NFL history ... and the top rushing season in Washington Redskins history. With the names that preceeded Morris, that is quite a feat.
As you saw last night in Dallas, that line and rushing attack can be lethal.
The other guy that's helped is Kai Forbath. Forbath, who hadn't made a regular season squad since coming out of UCLA in 2011. Forbath made his first 17 field goals in his career ... an NFL record. That was a far cry from the Billy Cundiff era at the beginning of the season ... or the littany of bad kickers the Redskins have employed over the past decade. We love our Mark Moseley! Our Chip Lohmiller! Our Ali Haji-Sheikh! For me, it is rare that I feel confident when our kicker walks up to nail a field goal (even though he did knock one off the upright last night).
Unsung heroes, yes. No one will roll with a Forbath jersey or a Lichtensteiger jersey. There will be tons and tons of Griffin III jerseys like the one I just got with some of Morris, Orakpo, Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss or even London Fletcher sprinkled in (not to mention the Sean Taylor ones), but all those folks know how important those Redskins linemen have meant to this NFC East championship team.
Brought to you by the Sportz Assassin at 11:27 AM