The Washington Redskinsâ€™ interior linemen have struggled thus far this season, and on Sunday, they draw another tough challenge as they will attempt to fend off an aggressive Detroit defensive front led by two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and fellow defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
A disruptive tandem, Suh and Fairley last season combined for 13.5 sacks last season with eight going to Suh and 5.5 going to Fairley.
Fairley, who has 1.5 sacks in the first two games of the season, has been limited in practice by a shoulder injury this week, but Suh is fully healthy and expected to pose a serious threat.
â€śHeâ€™s an active guy,â€ť left guard Kory Lichtensteiger said. â€śHeâ€™s one of those guys thatâ€™s quick, heâ€™s physical and heâ€™s relentless in a way, and thatâ€™s what separates the good ones from the great ones, so itâ€™s going to be an all-time job for us to keep him under control.â€ť
The Redskins believe that the best way to keep the Lionsâ€™ pass rushers off balance is to establish balance on offense, which will begin with their ability to establish the rushing attack, something they havenâ€™t been able to do in the past two weeks. With Washington falling behind early in games, the Redskinsâ€™ ground game has largely been scrapped, and the Redskins have gone with a drop-back passing attack that has put more strain on their linemen, who do better when blocking stretch plays, bootlegs and play-action passes.
â€śWe joked after the last game that weâ€™re at our drop-back quota for the year already,â€ť Lichtensteiger said. â€śBut, youâ€™ve got to play whatever the game gives you and if you get in that game. â€¦ You get down early and you canâ€™t expect to run the ball all game and score three touchdowns. So, youâ€™ve got to go to the quick operation and throw the ball. Thatâ€™s not ideal for us. Weâ€™re not trying to get into a game like that. We need to be able to execute.â€ť
Although frustrated, Lichtensteiger and his fellow linemen remain confident. Last season they paved the way for an offense that ranked fifth overall in the league. The Redskins last season owned the top rushing attack while ranking 20th in passing yards per game.
All 11 offensive starters return from last season, so the Redskinsâ€™ linemen believe that thereâ€™s no reason why they canâ€™t recapture last seasonâ€™s effectiveness. A strong start is key, however.
â€śWe know weâ€™re very capable of doing some good things on offense, and we just need to execute more than anything,â€ť right guard Chris Chester says. â€śWeâ€™ve put ourselves way behind the eight-ball the last two weeks. I think itâ€™s an issue of everyone being on the same page. We take a lot of pride in our ability to run the ball, so it has been frustrating that we havenâ€™t been able to get into that mode in the game. But that being said, I have a lot of confidence in all of the guys and our ability.â€ť
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at email@example.com with the subject line â€śMailbag questionâ€ť for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.
â—Ź The Redskins face the Lions at 1 p.m. at FedEx Field on Sunday.
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