What If the Washington Redskins' Offensive Line Doesn't Suck?

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What If the Washington Redskins' Offensive Line Doesn't Suck?
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Now don’t get all crazy on me, but what if the 2010 Redskins' offensive line this season turns out to be, you know...good?

Most Redskins observers—bloggers, media, Cliff Clavins at the bar—have preached for what seems a very a long time that the offensive line has been and remains a glaring team weakness. And given how ugly it has gotten on the field at times, there is still plenty of evidence to support the notion.

The new regime at Redskins Park this offseason certainly seemed to "get it," saying early on that the lines were going to be a priority. It seemed logical enough to conclude that they would hit the ground running in free agency and the draft to restock the offensive line.

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to their first training camp. They really didn’t...

Yes, they did start the free agency period by bringing in two relatively obscure offensive linemen, veteran journeyman Artis Hicks and third-year man Kory Lichtensteiger .

And they did later spend the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft on the highest-rated left tackle on their board, LT Trent Williams , and I don’t undersell that move—it could pay dividends for years to come.

But that has pretty much been it.

They may still pick up another body or two in late free agency or from training camp cut-downs later this summer, but with each passing day the likelihood of finding a plug-and-play starter via that route gets slimmer.

All of which makes reading reports like this one on the current state/attitude of the five gentlemen currently projected to start the season against Dallas on September 12 that much more...relevant.

Seriously, if you had predicted back in March that come June the regime would be projecting a starting lineup of a rookie left tackle, Derrick Dockery, Casey Rabach, Big Mike Williams and Artis Hicks, I’d have told you you were nuts.

Current OL per redskins.com (projected starters in bold):

C Casey Rabach
C/G Erik Cook
C/G Will Montgomery
C/G Edwin Williams
G Derrick Dockery
G Paul Fanaika
G Kory Lichtensteiger
G/T Artis Hicks
G/T Chad Rinehart
G/T Mike Williams
OT Trent Williams
OT Selvish Capers
OT Stephon Heyer
OT Clint Oldenburg
OT William Robinson

Come on. No way a brain trust like Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen would go with that.

Would they?

Well, just for the sake of argument...what if over the past five months they have looked at what they have on hand and are not just satisfied, but happy?

Shanahan has been consistent and vocal about fostering “competition” all across the board, and management has lived up to that promise, bringing in tons of defensive linemen, receivers, running backs, quarterbacks...but not offensive linemen.

Why?

Have Shanahan and Allen spent too much time in the sun?

Do they not see what seems so abundantly clear to everyone this side of departed personnel head Vinny Cerrato?

Did they look out across the big man landscape and not see anything else early in free agency or the draft that they liked, and resign themselves to watching helplessly as yet another Redskins quarterback gets abused by swarming defensive linemen?

Or could it be that maybe, just maybe, they know something the rest of us don’t?

Is it conceivable that the red-headed stepchild of the burgundy and gold roster—an offensive line so long maligned it has become almost cliche—might actually be able to play?

Maybe we should at least allow for the possibility, if for no other reason than doing otherwise would flatly imply that Shanahan and Allen are ignorant of the proverbial woolly mammoth in the room.

Which brings us to the fun part...

What if the offensive line actually does turn out to be good?

What if whatever combination emerges from the running back competition among returning (and presumably healthy) Clinton Portis, newcomers Larry Johnson and Willie Parker, and whoever else ends up on the final roster has holes to run through?

What if newly acquired six-time Pro Bowl QB Donovan McNabb has a little time to throw?

What if the revamped receiving corps he has time to throw to has enough professional-grade depth to dictate single coverage from time to time?

What if opposing defensive coordinators discover they cannot simply send the house after the Redskins quarterback on every passing down with little fear of being burned down the field?

What if new Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan finds he can draw up an actual NFL-level offensive gameplan, comfortable enough that he can occasionally expect his six-time Pro Bowl passer to get enough time to take a seven-step drop, look off the safety and come back across the field?

What if he gets to pick and choose from his gameday playsheet and establish an offensive rhythm (don't worry younger Redskins fans, you'll know one when you see it), because his line is holding its own, and his playmakers are getting opportunities to use their skills?

What if new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett can game-plan and call his defense with a reasonable expectation of his offense that his offense will sustain drives as often as not, providing him field position, a fresh pass rush, and (gasp) perhaps a more-than-one-score fourth-quarter lead once in a while?

Oh, I know. Silliness. Burgundy-and-gold-colored glasses. The Redskins offensive line is a stone-cold-lock weakness. It is old, thin, generally blows chunks, and everyone knows it.

Still, as the days and weeks slip by and all remains quiet on the Redskins OL front, I can't help but wonder ...

What if everyone is wrong?


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