- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2008

BALTIMORE | Sunday night’s 24-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens was the fourth game in the past five in which line coach Joe Bugel’s offensive line was overwhelmed by a younger, more agile defensive front.

After the line helped the Redskins start 6-2, it began a swoon paralleling the team’s recent struggles that have led to this point: 7-6 and on the outside of the playoff race.

“We’re just not playing good at all,” right guard Randy Thomas said. “We’re making everybody look good. We can’t let this season slip away. We gotta get some answer quick. We can’t wait.”

As was the case in November against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, the line gave the running backs little room to run (51 yards) and quarterback Jason Campbell (sacked just twice but hit plenty) little time to throw.

“We’ve played some good teams, but at the end of the year, if you want to be a [playoff] team, you’re going to have beat some of them,” left guard Pete Kendall said. “We had some good wind early against teams that looked like they were going to be playoff teams, but of late we haven’t been able to do that.”

Making matters worse for the line were the sprained left knee and injured right triceps that sent tackles Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels to the sideline. Both will have MRI exams Monday.

“It almost didn’t seem real,” said Thomas, who missed most of 2007 with a torn triceps.

Jansen, a 10-year veteran, wasn’t available afterward, but Samuels said he was worried.

“I’m definitely concerned,” said Samuels, who sat out the Oct. 26 game at Detroit with a sprained knee — his only absence since 2003. “My faith is that it’s just a strain. I was [blocking] the defensive end, and as soon as I extended out to punch him, I felt a kind of burning sensation.”

Stephon Heyer, who began the year as the starter, took over for Jansen. But with veteran tackle Jason Fabini and rookie Chad Rinehart both inactive, Bugel was forced to replace Samuels with little-used backup center Justin Geisinger to finish out a series before Heyer went to left tackle and Geisinger to the right side.

Geisinger hadn’t played a snap at tackle — even in a minicamp practice — since he was a senior at Vanderbilt in 2004.

“That’s no excuse,” Geisinger said. “I’m a backup on the offensive line, so I have to be ready for that situation. When Jon went down, I knew I was the only guy left. The techniques are similar across the line, but your angles of pass-setting are different against the edge rushers on the outside.”

One of those edge rushers, Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs, beat Geisinger for a 13-yard sack on his second play, turning a third-and-7 at the Baltimore 12 into a 43-yard field goal attempt.

“What a difficult position Geis was in,” Kendall said. “He went in there and fought his butt off. I tried to help him within the context of the scheme, but there were times it just didn’t happen. He wasn’t over there long before he went to the other side.”

Heyer, who hadn’t played since Oct. 26 at Detroit, then took over against Suggs.

“They were moving around a whole lot,” Heyer said. “They made it tough for us to know who was coming and who wasn’t. It’s one of those defenses you’ve got to see more than once to get the hang of it.”



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