Jason Campbell, one of just two Redskins quarterbacks the past 12 seasons to remain upright for 16 games, said it best when I spoke to him last month. “So, you think they found out yet I wasn’t the source of all their problems?” said Campbell, whose 2009 line gave up the same number of sacks (46) as the 2010 line protecting first Donovan McNabb and then Grossman. “It really doesn’t matter who’s back there if you can’t protect him.”
The Redskins allowed their quarterback to be hit an inhumane 110 times last season, tied for the worst in the NFL with Jacksonville. Allowing 92 sacks in two seasons is beyond unacceptable. Transpose those numbers over the same period of time and you incredibly get the figure representing the times Peyton Manning was sacked — a scant 26 — in two years, including just 10 times in 2009.
It doesn’t just take future Hall of Famers to produce behind a good or great line, either; Mark Rypien was sacked just seven times the entire 1991 Super Bowl season in Washington.
So before the non-belief in either Grossman or Beck goes any further, shouldn’t we first ask whether Mike Shanahan’s 2011 offensive line is better than 2010’s cut-and-paste unit?
“We don’t know yet,” said Trevor Matich, the former NFL offensive lineman turned television analyst. “There are too many variables out there right now. I think they are three starters away, or two if Jammal Brown performs well and stays healthy, from being considered a good line.”
Given that Trent Williams has left tackle sewn up and right guard Chris Chester was brought in after starting through attrition for the Ravens in a power-running scheme, that doesn’t sound too good for Will Montgomery, who slid over to center after Casey Rabach was released, and Kory Lichtensteiger at left guard.
“Actually, Montgomery and Lichtensteiger were unfairly excoriated last season because of circumstances,” Matich said. “But at some point during the season they still have to prove they’re more than just a guy.”
The Redskins organization is selling cohesiveness and experience up front as to why this O-line won’t let the quarterback be creamed as often. As Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator, said, “These guys know each other much better and know the zone-blocking scheme much better.”
That’s optimistic, because virtually every position on the offensive side of the ball has a question mark except tight end (Chris Cooley backed up by Fred Davis) and the No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers (Santana Moss and Jabar Gaffney).