In each of Ron Rivera’s first two seasons as head coach of the Washington Commanders, his teams ended the reasons ranked inside the top 10 of Pro Football Focus’ offensive line rankings.
However, Washington lost a big piece of its offensive line last offseason when Brandon Scherff departed as a free agent. Instead of using a high selection in the NFL draft on his replacement, or a high-priced free agent, head coach Ron Rivera chose to go the veteran route in Trai Turner.
In a surprise move ahead of free agency, the Commanders released starting left guard Ereck Flowers and replaced him with another cheaper veteran in Andrew Norwell.
Those moves, along with injuries have seen Washington’s offensive line take a step back in 2022. Center Chase Roullier has missed most of the season, guard/center Wes Schweitzer just returned after missing over two months and Sam Cosmi has missed significant time.
On Sunday against the New York Giants, Tyler Larsen, who had stabilized the center position, left the game on a medical cart and it was determined afterward he suffered a broken kneecap. Cosmi, who made his first career start at right guard, left the game early with an ankle injury.
The game disappointingly ended in a 20-20 tie. However, Washington’s offense outgained the Giants 411-316, but it wasn’t enough to come away with the win.
How did the Commanders offensive line play dispute the injuries?
Well, according to PFF’s weekly offensive line rankings, Washington moved up five spots to No. 20 ahead of Week 14.
20. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS (UP 5)
Projected Week 14 Starters:
LT Charles Leno Jr.
LG Andrew Norwell
C Nick Martin
RG Samuel Cosmi
RT Cornelius Lucas
Washington’s line now ranks almost exactly middle of the pack as both a run-blocking and pass-protecting unit.
The line has improved its ranking in each of the past three weeks.
The Commanders rushed for 165 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per rushing attempt. However, the pass-blocking left much to be desired. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was hit 10 times and sacked five times. And Heinicke avoided multiple other pressures.
The offensive line is something to watch coming out of Washington’s bye. The Commanders play the Giants again, the 49ers, Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns and the NFL’s top pass-rushing team, the Dallas Cowboys over the final four games.