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“We’ve coalesced better,” right guard Chris Chester said. “We’ve tightened up our combo blocks and techniques and all that.”

Still, significant room for improvement remains, especially in pass protection, as the most recent loss against Carolina proved.

The Redskins‘ second-half deficit forced them to throw to get back into the game, and that negated the effects of the option. The Panthers’ talented front four pressured Griffin without the help of extra rushers or blitzes and finished with four sacks.

“I think the hardest thing to do in the NFL for any team is to block a pass rush,” Kyle Shanahan said. “To just drop back and go against some of these D-linemen is the biggest challenge in the NFL. When D-linemen are playing the pass, it’s usually a tough game.”

The key to this line’s success, then, seems to be staying in situations that allow the running game to cause indecision and uncertainty among the defense.

That suits Washington’s linemen just fine.

Said Lichtensteiger: “We’re to the point now that if we don’t get 150 yards on the ground, it’s going to be a disappointing day for us.”