Friday, October 09, 2015

Rookie Spotlight: Scherff Quietly Earning Stripes

By Brian Tinsman

October 9, 2015

WASHINGTON — Taken amid fanfare and controversy with the No. 5 overall pick in the draft, Washington Redskins lineman Brandon Scherff had his share of fans and dissenters throughout the offseason and preseason.

First he was the right pick–then maybe he wasn’t. He was going to play right tackle–but maybe he would start at right guard. He dealt with injuries. He was part of the preseason Detroit debacle.

After making the squad and being named a starter, he had a brutal match-up in his first NFL regular season game, dealing with a Dolphins defensive line that features Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh.

He was supposed to fail. But he didn’t.

Even in a losing effort, Scherff played like a veteran, opening up holes in the running game (37 rushes, 161 yards) and keeping quarterback Kirk Cousins clean. After the game, he earned his head coach’s praise.

“I think for the most part [right tackle] Morgan Moses and Brandon [Scherff], in their first game together, I’m happy with the way they played,” Jay Gruden said. “If we’re going to take some positives, I’m happy with the way our offensive line played.”

Fellow lineman and fellow former top-pick Trent Williams assessed: “The guys knew they had a big challenge. They came out here with that big hat on today. Brandon did a good job on [Suh], Moses did a good job on [Wake].”

Scherff even earned respect from Suh: “Obviously he’s playing hard. He has a great coach over there. I know [offensive line coach Bill] Callahan. He’s in good hands and has a guy who will take care of him.”

He had another tough assignment against Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald in Week 2, but protected the pocket when the two matched up. In Week 3, it was Giants veteran defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins who was held without a sack against Scherff. Same with Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry in Week 4.

In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Scherff is one of the best pass protecting guards in the NFL this season:

That’s elite company with 12 Pro Bowl seasons and three Super Bowl rings in the mix. This from the same outlet that named the Redskins the second-worst offensive line in the NFL.

While the media spotlight has largely moved off of Scherff, his performance is not lost on Cousins, who has been sacked only five times in 158 passing attempts (3 percent) this season. Only Eli Manning, Derek Carr, Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been sacked fewer times through four games.

“It just makes my life, the play caller’s life, everybody’s life so much easier,” Cousins said of his line earlier this season. “The key is going to be continuing to do it week in and week out going forward.

“Certainly excited about what they showed. Looking forward to hopefully being able to lavish them with and shower them with gifts for what they did this year. I would love to do that more than anything.”

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