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On Friday night, the Washington Redskins made a trade with the St. Louis Rams, sending their first round picks this year, in 2013, and in 2014, plus their second round pick from this season to the Rams in exchange for the #2 pick in the draft. They will presumably use that pick to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The reactions have been mixed. Some have lambasted it, comparing the Rams’ haul to what the Cowboys got for running back Herschel Walker in 1989. Others have said that while Griffin seems like an exceptional talent, the Redskins still gave up too much.
It was absolutely the right move for the Redskins, and the price is almost inconsequential. In order to explain why, it’s important to look at the Redskins “accomplishments” the last two decades.
Seven thousand three hundred and sixty-six days ago, the Redskins played in their last NFC Championship Game. The year was 1992, and the opponent was the Detroit Lions. They beat the Lions 41-10 and went on to win the Super Bowl.
Since that time, the Redskins have been lost in the wilderness. They have four playoff appearances in 20 seasons, and only one division title. They have never won more than 10 games in a season in that time span.
Their division rivals meanwhile have had plenty of success. The Dallas Cowboys won three Super Bowls and have made eleven playoff appearances, with eight division titles. The New York Giants just won their second Super Bowl title in five years, and went to the playoffs nine times, with five division titles. The Philadelphia Eagles have made twelve playoff appearances, with six division titles.
Point being, every other team in the division has had a great deal of success. The Redskins have become irrelevant, nothing more than a punch line to people’s jokes. They have become better known for their numerous failures in free agency and manipulative owner Daniel Snyder than anything they have done on the field.
They are coming off a 5-11 season, the fourth consecutive season they’ve missed the playoffs and the fourth consecutive season they finished in last place.
One of the biggest reasons for their failures over the last two decades is that they have never been able to find a reliable, franchise quarterback. The Redskins have used 20 different starting quarterbacks since 1992, which includes Shane Matthews, Jeff George and Tim Hasselbeck.
They had some levels of success with Trent Green, Brad Johnson and Mark Brunell, but none of them represented long term solutions. They attempted to find a long term quarterback in 2005, when they drafted Jason Campbell 25th overall out of Auburn. Campbell was solid but not spectacular for the Redskins in his four seasons as starter, but was jettisoned out of town in 2010 for Donovan McNabb by new coach Mike Shanahan.
The Redskins haven’t had a legitimate franchise quarterback since Joe Theismann in the 1980s. While their three division rivals have had success with franchise quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Donovan McNabb, the Redskins have mostly gone through washed up veterans and retreads to minimal success.
Robert Griffin III is something different. He is 22 years old, and had two incredibly successful seasons at Baylor, especially in 2011, when he completed 72.4 percent of his passes, throwing for over 4000 yards and a 37 to 6 TD/INT ratio. His success earned him the Heisman Trophy.
RGIII also displays incredible speed, rushing for over 600 yards in each of his two seasons and running a 4.41 at the NFL Combine.
In interviews, Griffin has shown himself to be a man of great intelligence. In an NFL.com clip with Steve Mariucci, Mariucci showed him a play design from a West Coast offense, asked him a few questions, and then asked him to draw up the play on a board. Griffin got it down exactly.
Of course, putting up big college numbers doesn’t in anyway mean a quarterback will have success. Griffin could very well bust, leaving the Redskins in shambles for the next few years.Yet, this was a risk the Redskins absolutely had to take. This is not Deion Sanders at the end of his career. This is a 22 year old quarterback with massive potential.
If RGII works out, the Redskins will be able to reverse a two decades long drought and usher in a new era of Washington Redskins football. Given the amount of cap space the Redskins have, they could build around RGIII fairly quickly.Risks bring the possibility of failure, but also of reward. Complacency just leaves you stuck in the mud. That’s exactly where the Redskins have been since 1992.
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