Michael Ortman is one of the nine finalists in The Washington Post’s Greatest D.C. Sports Fan Contest. For Round 1, we asked our contestants to tell us what one thing they would change about one of D.C.’s professional sports teams. Read Michael’s response below, then tell us in the comments if you think he should be one of the six finalists to continue to the next round of competition.
New coach? New QB? Quick and easy ways to fix the Redskins! Truth is, the fix is neither quick nor easy. It requires a patient, unwavering focus on the offensive line.
Focus includes draft picks, free agents, depth, coaches and chemistry, qualities Jack Kent Cooke, Bobby Beathard, Joe Gibbs and Joe Bugel brought together a generation ago. Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different QBs (Theismann, Williams and Rypien) and three different featured RBs (Riggins, Smith and Byner), but a singular focus on the offensive line. Grimm, Jacoby and Bostic (a draft pick, a free agent and a refugee from Philadelphia) played on all three title teams. And as that trio transitioned to Lachey, Schlereth and McKenzie, the focus continued into the 1990s.
You don’t need Brady or Brees to win. In 1991, unheralded Mark Rypien was a Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP, not so much because of his arm, but rather the secure knowledge that he would not get crushed. When Ryp was sacked in Week 15, it was the first time he’d been brought down in 10 weeks!!! That season, he was sacked only seven times in 16 games. The Bills sacked John Beck 10 times in three hours!!!
Solid offensive lines make RBs better, QBs better and defenses better, keeping them off the field through ball control, thus making them stronger when the game’s on the line in the 4th quarter. Of 68 offensive linemen designated All Pro over the past six seasons, nearly 70% played for playoff teams.
Such focus is tough for fans seeking instant gratification and tough for management that prefers draft picks and free agents at splashier positions. Of the 72 players drafted by Washington since 2001, only nine were O-Linemen. Heck, six of the 72 were QBs (can you name ‘em all?). And don’t let the 2010 draft fool you (three OLs, including Trent Williams and Erik Cook). In 2011, the team relapsed, using only one of 11 picks to help protect QB du jour.
That’s not focus. That’s a tease.
Weigh In: Tell us what you think of Michael’s argument in the comments. Our judges will choose six of the nine finalists to advance to Round 2 based on a combination or your comments and their opinions. Does Michael deserve to advance? Why or why not?
Read each contestant’s Round 1 essay
Meet the finalists