Mark Rypien played from 1986-93 under the original "Hogs" and was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVI thanks to their blocking. The two-time ex-Pro Bowler and one of the 70 Greatest Redskins believes new offensive line coach Bill Callahan can improve Washington’s offensive line.
"That’s kind of his expertise," Rypien said Friday at a charity event in Dallas. "He’s probably one of the best offensive line coaches the game has. You know, he’s dabbled at the head coaching thing before. And I think he kind of finds his niche. We’re open. As a quarterback, you’re only as good as the guys up front."
Since 2013, the season after Washington’s last playoff appearance, quarterback Robert Griffin III has been sacked 69 times, ninth-most in that span. While fellow signal callers Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, and Colin Kaepernick are been sacked more, none of the others from first through eighth have missed time due to injury, whereas Griffin has yet to play a complete 16-game season in his three seasons.
"I know Troy and Tony and all the guys that played in Dallas here appreciate the fact that when you’re protected by a group that loves each other and gets along and does great things, you’re going to be successful," Rypien said. "Being here with Emmitt [Smith], he’ll tell you the same thing."
Aside from keeping Griffin upright, opening rushing lanes for running back Alfred Morris is also necessary for winning. After bursting onto the scene as sixth-round rookie with 1,613 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 335 carries, Morris’ numbers have been declining in each of the three categories since 2012. While true his 1,000-yard season streak is still alive, Washington has posted consecutive seasons with fewer than five wins.
"[The offensive linemen] are the heart and soul of your organization," said Rypien. "And they’re the ones that are going to make things happen. To have a coach that knows the game and understands the game I think is imperative that they got someone that can do that."
After rebuilding the "Great Wall of Dallas," Bill Callahan is in Washington to replenish "The Hogs." Callahan rebuilt the wall in Dallas with first-round bricks such a Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. Similarly, after coming to Redskins Park, the club took Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff fifth overall in the draft. Washington drafted left tackle Trent Williams out of Oklahoma in 2010, but Scherff is the first guard Washington has taken in the first round since Mark May in 1981.
Though Rypien was in Dallas teaming up with a Cowboys legend to raise money for the Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities, he insists he is still a Redskin at heart.
"When the season starts, he’s a die-hard Cowboy and I’m a die-hard Redskin. And we’ll still have some fun with that. It’s good to run into some guys you admired as players but you admire more as humanitarians and doing good work."