The Giants won a Super Bowl behind the strength of their defensive line. They lost Strahan and Osi this season due to retirement and injury and are still winning games with the pressure the front four can provide along with a steady offense. Throughout the 1980s the Redskins front four was able to apply pressure during the game, as well as, as on key plays.
Since the Redskins last Super Bowl victory, the team has largely relied upon the back seven and elaborate defensive schemes to put pressure on opposing teams. The back seven this season and for the past several seasons has done a tremendous job especially with the leadership & play of Fletcher.
The lack of any pressure by the front four has had an impact in all areas of the the game.
• The linebackers and secondary have had to maintain coverage longer than they should against offenses. As a result the back seven has covered more ground increasing the risk of fatigue and injury as they take on bigger backs and receivers at full speed.
• The lack of any pressure has produced few turnovers and chances for the offense to play on a shortened field.
• In the 1980s the Hogs often expressed that they practiced against some of the best players in the league to help them prepare for the coming week's game. They faced the likes of Mann, Manley, Geathers, and Stokes beside having to move Butz and Grant out of the way. Facing top quality from the defensive (line) ensured that the offensive line maintained their high level of performance.
Recently it's been reported that there's been breakdowns in technique along the offensive line. Without being at practice it's difficult to see, but it leads knowledgeable fans to assume that the offensive line isn't receiving the challenge needed in practice to maintain their technique needed during a game. The defensive line aside from the first year of Griffin and Daniels has rated near the bottom of the league for years.
The circle of the demise of the defensive line is complete. It's impacted the back seven and put more pressure on special teams to improve field position for years. Now the offensive line has come under scrutiny and one can only wonder why such a good group of offensive lineman can falter. It's not solely due to age as the hogs played at a high level well into their 30s, but had a more fierce level of competition facing them on a weekly basis. One word for Redskin fans come free agency this offseason - Haynesworth!