Tyler Polumbus has been made the scapegoat of the Washington Redskins offensive line since he arrived in D.C. While his performance has been far from elite, it’s nowhere near the level the average Redskins fan would have you believe.

Having rewatched every sack from the past season, I credited him with five allowed, which did rank worst along the offensive line (Trent Williams and Will Montgomery both gave up four, to give some perspective). However, failed protection schemes accounted for eight sacks, and I had Robert Griffin III at fault for 10 of the total 43 allowed.

Many of Polumbus’s problems in pass protection come from his hand placement. He can struggle to get his hands on the chest of the defender to control the block.

On this play, Polumbus faces Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox.

As Cox turns the edge, you can see that Polumbus is struggling to get his hands in the correct position and control the block. Cox has actually managed to get his hands onto the chest of Polumbus and makes the most of that leverage.

Polumbus desperately attempts to grasp on to what he can and delay Cox from getting to Griffin, but ultimately fails as Cox gets the sack.

But that was back in Week 1. As the season went on, he improved. By Week 14 against the Chiefs, Griffin’s last game as the starter, he had drastically improved his hand placement.

This time Polumbus faces an outside linebacker, but on a similar speed rush.

This time Polumbus keeps his hips more square to his target and lands his hands inside on the chest of the defender. That allows him to lock on and slow down the speed rush.

With his hands inside, Polumbus has all the leverage and can use his size to keep the defender at arms length. Polumbus stonewalled the defender on this play.

This isn’t to say Polumbus is perfect, of course. He still has plenty of issues to work on. But his pass protection has improved and isn’t as bad as it once was. In the run game, Polumbus benefits greatly from the zone scheme. When the ball is run to his side, the Redskins can partner him up with a tight end to help tandem-block edge defenders. But perhaps the greater benefit is when the ball is run to the opposite side.

This is a typical stretch run to the left. Polumbus is the backside tackle on this play.

Polumbus leaves the backside defensive end unblocked and moves up to the second level.

As Alfred Morris makes his cut up field, Polumbus has yet to engage with a defender.

By the time Morris is tackled, Polumbus still hasn’t made a block. Yet Morris was able to pick up nine yards on the carry.

Polumbus has been okay in his run blocking, but this scheme helps him out greatly. When you have a left tackle like Trent Williams that you want to run behind consistently, the importance of the right tackle on the backside diminishes. This is perhaps why the Redskins have been content to stick with Polumbus at right tackle for the past few years while addressing other needs. And it might be why Redskins fans will have to deal with Polumbus holding down the spot until Morgan Moses develops.

Mark Bullock is The Insider’s Outsider, sharing his impressions of the Redskins without the benefit of access to the team. 

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