Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously once educated the world about the three categories of knowledge: the Known Knowns, these are the things you know you know, like the sun will rise in the east; the Known Unknowns, things you know you do not know, like whether Metro will be on time today; and there the Unknown Unknowns, the things you do not know you do not know, like the surprise donuts and coffee at work.
We could spend many hours and words toiling over the second two categories with the Redskins, so let us have a brief, post cuts, inter Haynesworth, pre kickoff discussion about a Known Known with the Redskins in 2010: The offensive line.The big Known Known of 2010: The offensive line will be improved. This is easy to say, as it is almost literally empirical, meaning it can be observed in the environment, aside from what you have seen this preseason, let us review how we got here.
Last season the Redskins started six different combinations of players along the line, no one configuration more than five times and none more than four games in a row. Five different guys started at right tackle and three different guys at left tackle. Two different guys each started in two different positions.
It was awful, Redskins fans cannot seem to agree on whether Jason Campbell was the solution at quarterback, what I think all Redskins fans would agree on is we never got to see the best of Jason behind that line.
There was no succession planning, the Redskins highest drafted offensive lineman since Chris Samuels at number three overall in 2000? Chad Rinehart in the third round of 2008, Chad got four starts in 2009 and is no longer with the team. Chris along with right guard Randy Thomas and former right tackle Jon Jansen were simply allowed to age and suffer injury after injury with no serious draft picks spent on replacements; both Chris and Randy each finished two of his last three seasons with the Redskins on injured reserve, and Jon Jansen missed fifteen games in 2007 with an ugly broken ankle.
It was former shadow general manager Vinny Cerrato's gambler's mentality, if he could just upgrade those receivers and defensive players the team could play its way out of a decrepit line.
Now fast forward to this season, Washington upgraded three spots. First in March it was Artis Hicks, signed as a free agent during the Free Agency from Hell, Artis has some wear on him at 31, he is also a former starter, has been durable and can play both tackle spots and right guard. If he fits in at right guard he must be an upgrade over Chad Rinehart, Will Montgomery, Edwin Williams and likely would have won out over former 400 pound man Mike Williams had Mike been available for this season.
Second in April it was rookie Trent Williams, he of the number four overall selection in the draft that leapfrogged Russell Okung, Trent has a long way to go and might never be the left tackle Chris Samuels was, then again he looks like the full package and should be an upgrade over Stephon Heyer, Levi Jones off the street for a cup of coffee and possibly even a banged up Chris Samuels after a decade. If things do not work out for Trent at left tackle the dude has extensive college experience at right tackle as well.
Third it was Jammal Brown in June, Jammal is a former two time Pro Bowler who lost his spot to injury, he was forced to sit on the sideline and watch as the Saints won the Super Bowl without Jammal down the stretch after being a consistent starter four seasons. At 29 he still has plenty in the tank and is looking to get back to the form that got him to the Pro Bowl, Jammal also has experience at left tackle so the team has a lot of flexibility.
Of course this could all crash and burn and we could see Clint Oldenburg, Will Montgomery, Kory Lichtensteiger, Selvish Capers and Will Robinson along the line in which case we are laughing and cringing on Sundays instead of laughing and cheering, though I doubt it, this offensive line was put together intentionally to be a combination of youth and experience and to give coaches and the team maximum flexibility to address matters as the season wears on.
Ben Folsom did not visit the ER today and is the editor of The Curly R, a blog covering the Redskins and the NFL since 2006. The Folsom Point appears Tuesdays on Hogs Haven.