Lions at Redskins: Detroit could use a few good ‘hogs’ of their own
By Robert Jones
How about them hogs?
In 1981 the Redskins raided the high scoring San Diego Chargers by hiring their offensive coordinator, Joe Gibbs, to be the 20th head coach in Washington history. After eight games, the Redskins were winless and the natives became restless. However, Washington went on to win all of their remaining games to finish the year an improbable 8-8 after such a slow start and never slowed down until Gibbs retired in 1992.
By the time Gibbs was done in D.C., which included a second stint in 2004-2007, the 17 playoff wins he had led the Redskins to, which includes three Super Bowl titles, is almost three times as many postseason victories as the rest of the teams’ history.
The irony is that after being the offensive coordinator to the pass-happy ‘Air Coryell’ Chargers is that when Gibbs went to Washington, his offensive success was built upon a power running game.
Their basic offense had Hall of Fame fullback, John Riggins, lined up as a single back with two tight ends and they would just flat out run over and exhaust opposing defenses. This didn’t mean that Gibbs didn’t have a diverse offense that couldn’t open up and stretch defenses, but punishing opposing defenses with the Redskins power run game was the key component to their offensive success.
Needless to say, the Lions ground game could learn a lot from those Redskins teams, but probably the lesson I would value the most would be the anatomy of Washington’s offensive line in those days.
In D.C., those boys in the trenches were known as the ‘hogs’. They were big, had an attitude and drove good defenses into the ground. And the thing that I thought was brilliant was that they had almost nothing but tackles and a center on their roster.
Joe Gibbs wanted a huge, over-sized line that could win their battles with power and might. Gibbs filled the roster with big linemen, most of which were tackles. The biggest and best of them stayed at tackle and patrolled the edges of opposing defenses with ruthless efficiency as well as protecting Redskin quarterbacks like the gold at Fort Knox.
Meanwhile, some of the tackles were moved to guard to use their bulk against defensive tackles that were getting bigger and bigger while still being athletic enough to run Gibbs famed counter-sweep. The staple of the Redskins ground game.