Donovan McNabb would never admit it, but he undoubtedly cringed more than once watching tape of the Washington Redskins' offensive line from 2009.
Watching friend and fellow QB Jason Campbell get thrown to the ground again and again, each hit more violent than the previous, McNabb had to have thought long and hard before accepting a trade to the Nation's Capital.
Washington surrendered 46 sacks last season and that wasn't even half of it. Campbell and backup Todd Collins (played in parts of three games in 2009) were hit an additional 48 times, and pressured 119 times on top of that.
To put those numbers into perspective, only three other offensive lines allowed more QB hits in 2009.
The offensive line was struggling to work through injuries to Chris Samuels, Randy Thomas, Chad Rinehart, Casey Rabach, and others. But even with those players on the field, no one could mistake last year's line for a second coming of the Hogs.
Missed assignments, poor technique and bad coaching plagued the offensive line last year. The coaching staff went through upwards of six different combinations for the starting offensive line. This inconsistency led to carnage up and down the field.
New coach Mike Shanahan has brought new life to the franchise, but coming in, the consensus was that he needed to massively overhaul the offensive line.
However, from February to April, Shanahan didn't make any drastic moves along the line. He added supersub Artis Hicks to bolster the depth. Everyone assumed that he would make some moves in the NFL draft to address the protection up front.
Shanahan did draft stud tackle Trent Williams from Oklahoma in the first round, but didn't go back to the well until the seventh round when he picked up West Virginia's Selvish Capers.
Though drafting Williams was a step in the right direction, Washington still had issues on the right side of the line. Things were looking so shaky at right tackle that it was widely expected Hicks would start there to begin the season.
Well that speculation can now be laid to rest.
On Saturday, the 'Skins traded a conditional pick to the Saints for tackle Jammal Brown, giving Washington their first viable offensive line in two years.
Brown has the athleticism to play in Shanahan's zone blocking scheme and can also shut down pass rushers from both left and right tackle.
Brown's addition allows Hicks to move into the right guard position where he is more natural. It also gives the Redskins a pair of tackles in Williams and Brown who should both be able to match up one-on-one with the majority of pass rushers they line up against.
Last season the 'Skins never had the luxury of sending backs or tight ends out for passes. They often had to remain at the line of scrimmage to chip. This year, Williams and Brown will hold their own and then some.
McNabb, acquired in a trade from Philadelphia in April, must have been relieved to see the 'Skins bring in Brown. McNabb can make the most out of any situation, but the way the right side of the 'Skins line was shaping up, even he had to have been concerned in regards to how effective he could be.
McNabb might be in a better situation than what he left in Philly. He has three running backs with something to prove, two of the NFL's top tight ends, and an offensive line which is vastly improved.
Add to that list Mike Shanahan who has shown in the past that he can lead a successful offense so long as he has capable blockers up front.
Fortunately, he saw the weakness after OTAs and mini-camp, acted on his instincts and made a late offseason trade to upgrade the Redskins' weakest area.
It isn't groundbreaking news, but come January, this trade could be that key adjustment, which ultimately gave McNabb and the offense the time to stay on their feet.
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