Sports from the Basement

A 21 Year Comedy of Quarterback Errors

The news broke late last evening.  Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden announced that Robert Griffin III will be benched for this Sunday’s game at Indianapolis, replaced by Colt McCoy.  It’s the latest knee jerk reaction from a team that has done nothing but knee jerk reactions for the past 21 seasons.  Since Joe Gibbs’ retirement (the first one) after the 1992 season, the Redskins are 143-202-1.  People love to dump this all on Dan Snyder, but this has been going on even longer than his tenure, which began in 1999.  Since the 1993 season, 24 players have started a game at the quarterback position for Washington.  After RG3’s flameout, it’s safe to say none of them have been any good.  Ranked by the only stat the matters, winning percentage, here they are.

Todd Collins (3-0, 1.000)  A lifelong backup, Collins was thrust into action late in the 2007 season after Jason Campbell’s injury.  Spurned on by the tragic death of Safety Sean Taylor, the Redskins rallied and won their final four games to steal the final wild card spot.  The dream ended in Seattle, but Collins proved to be a capable fill in.  He retired in 2009, backing up in Washington and Chicago before retiring.

Colt McCoy (1-0, 1.000) The new savior to the masses in Washington.  McCoy is slated to start this Sunday and for the rest of the season.  He played well Washington’s upset win in Dallas last month, and has grasped Jay Gruden’s system well.  He is 7-15 in his career, but a strong finish will earn him another contract.  Knowing the Redskins, it’ll be a monster that will set the franchise back another 5 years.

Jeff Hostetler (2-1, .667)  Yes, that Jeff Hostetler, the winning quarterback of Super Bowl XXV.  Hostetler was the backup qb in Washington in his final season, 1997, backing up Gus Frerotte.  When Frerotte was benched at the end of the season, Hostetler won 2 of the final 3 games to save Norv Turner’s job.  He threw 5 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the Redskins, and is somehow their third best quarterback in the past 21 years.

Brad Johnson (17-10, .630) This is the one who got away.  Johnson was acquired via trade before the 1999 season to be the new quarterback.  He proceeded to lead the Redskins to a 10-6 record, and a division championship.  The Redskins lost in the playoffs that season due to a botched snap on a potential game tying field goal.  The 2000 season saw Johnson lead the Redskins to a 6-4 record before being benched for Jeff George.  Johnson was the first player to blast Snyder in the media, and it hasn’t stopped since.  After leaving the Redskins, he went to Tampa Bay, where he won a Super Bowl two years later.

Tony Banks (8-6, .571) Banks replaced Jeff George in the 2001 season, kicking off the Snyder vs Marty Schottenheimer war, which led to Schottenheimer being fired after one season.  Despite starting out 0-5, the 2001 Redskins rallied to finish 8-8 under Banks.  It was an exceptional coaching job by Schottenheimer, but Steve Spurrier was available.  Banks backed up David Carr in Houston for three seasons after leaving Washington, retiring after the 2005 season.

Danny Wuerffel (2-2, .500) Welcome to the Steve Spurrier era.  Despite not having thrown an NFL pass in three years, Wuerffel was signed by the Redskins and started games for them.  People (well Dan Snyder) actually thought that Steve Spurrier’s fun and gun offense would work in the NFL.  It lasted two sad seasons before Spurrier resigned in the middle of the night in 2004.  To the shock of no one, Wuerffel’s season in Washington was the last of his career.

Gus Frerotte (19-20-1, .488) Frerotte was drafted in the seventh round in the 1994 draft, and outplayed Heath Shuler from the outset.  Shuler was handed the job because he was a high draft pick, but Frerotte eventually beat him out because Shuler was awful.  Frerotte was slightly better than that and manned the qb position for three average seasons from 1995-1997.  He will always be remembered for giving himself a concussion by headbutting a wall during a touchdown celebration.  Frerotte played ten more seasons in the NFL both as a backup and a starter.

Mark Brunell (15-18, .455) Brunell was signed to a huge contract before the 2004 season to be the quarterback for Joe Gibbs return.  There was a quarterback controversy between him and Patrick Ramsey, but Gibbs preferred Brunell’s veteran presence.  Brunell went 3-6 in 2004 and was benched for Ramsey.  Brunell got a second chance in 2005, and went 9-6 as the Redskins made the playoffs.  Brunell is one of only two Redskins qb’s with a playoff victory since 1992.  In that playoff win he was 7 of 15 for 41 yards.  Brunell left Washington after the 2006 season, and spent the final four years of his career as a backup.

Trent Green (6-8, .429)  The Redskins fell into Trent Green in 1998.  After being the backup in 1997, Green shined in 1998, throwing for 3441 yards and 23 touchdowns.  Green signed with the Rams as a free agent following that season, because their offer was better than the Redskins offer of 4 years 12 million.  Wow how the times have changed!  Green went on to success in Kansas City, and had a solid career.

Shane Matthews (3-4, .429)  Everything I wrote for Danny Wuerrfel can be said for Shane Matthews as well.  Matthews spent one season in Washington before being turfed out.

Patrick Ramsey (10-14, .417) Pat Ramsey was Steve Spurrier’s first pick in the NFL.  Out of Tulane, he was the quarterback of the future.  He was going to sit and be tutored by Wuerffell and Matthews.  Let that last sentence sink in for a while.  He was thrusted into action in 2002, Spurrier soured on him in 2003, and Gibbs soured on him again in 2004.  Sound familiar?  He spent three seasons as a backup after leaving Washington in 2005.

Robert Griffin III (13-19, .406) After being benched for the second consecutive year, it’s safe to say the RG3 era is over in the Nation’s Capital.  This one will always be the ultimate what if, because he simply has not been the same player since the Shanahan’s ran him into the ground during the 2012 playoffs.

Jason Campbell (20-32, .385) Flash back to the 2005 draft.  The Redskins, in true Redskins fashion, traded up with Denver BEFORE the draft to jump into the late first round.  It was reported that they wanted to select Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell with the pick.  As the draft unfolded, consensus number 2 pick Aaron Rodgers began to drop.  Inexplicably, he dropped all the way to pick number 24, one spot ahead of the Redskins.  The Green Bay Packers, despite having Brett Favre, chose Rodgers and shored up their QB position for the next fifteen years.  The Redskins missed out on Rodgers by one pick, and if they had waited, could have traded during the draft.  Of course I’m still assuming that Rodgers would be good, but one can’t be sure.  Perhaps it would be Jason Campbell leading the Packers to multiple division championships.  Campbell was mediocre, and left.  He was then mediocre in Oakland, and is now the backup in Cincinnati.

Donovan McNabb (5-8, .385) Mike Shanahan traded with the Eagles to acquire McNabb before the 2010 season.  McNabb was on a Hall of Fame track in Philadelphia, and then was a disaster in Washington.  The lowlight was when he got benched during a two minute drill because he didn’t have the proper “Cardiovascular endurance.”  He was replaced in that game by Rex Grossman, who promptly fumbled into a defensive score.  Two weeks later, the Redskins signed McNabb to 5 year 78 million dollar extension.  He was traded at the end of the season.

Rex Grossman (6-10, .375)  McNabb was traded because Mike Shanahan claimed he could win with Rex Grossman.  The 2011 Redskins went 5-11.  Grossman was a turnover machine, and continued to be plagued by the same issues he had in Chicago.  He retired after the 2013 season.

Mark Rypien (3-7, .300) Mark Rypien, the Super Bowl XXVI MVP, fell off a cliff after Joe Gibbs Retired.  Rypien threw three touchdown passes on opening night in 1993, then proceeded to have one more touchdown pass in the final 9 games.  The magic was gone, and so was Rypien after the 1993 season.  He played five more seasons as a backup for four different teams.

Rich Gannon (1-3, .250)  Yes, that Rich Gannon was a member of the Redskins.  He replaced Mark Rypien in 1993 but failed to impress.  He was out of Washington after the season as the Heath Shuler era was set to begin.  Gannon went on to have a stellar career, including a spectacular four year run with the Raiders in the late 90’s, early 2000s.

John Friesz (1-3, .250) Friesz was the veteran placeholder in 1994 before Heath Shuler got the gig.  He went 1-3 in four games before the plug was pulled.  Not sure what the Redskins expected when they signed a qb with a 6-17 record at that point.  Nothing wrong with going to the kid, except when it makes things worse.  Much much worse.

Kirk Cousins (2-7, .222)  Cousins career in Washington is over.  He had a chance to take the reigns with Griffin’s injury, but failed to capitalize.  He will be a backup somewhere next season, but not in DC.

Tim Hasselbeck (1-4, .200) Remember when I said Patrick Ramsey was given up on?  Steve Spurrier did late in the 2003 season in favor of Tim Hasselbeck.  Those were the only five games Hasselbeck started in his four year career.  They also included the only passes Hasselbeck threw in his career.

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Jeff George (1-6, .143) Jeff George won one game for the Redskins.  Unfortunately for everyone involved, it was a Monday Night road game against the defending Super Bowl Champions.  The Redskins improved to 7-4 after that win, and Dan Snyder fell in love with George that very instant.  He started and lost the next four games.  George was named the starter before the 2001 season, but he was benched by Marty Schottenheimer after the Redskins went 0-2 and were outscored 67-3.  George never threw another NFL pass after his stint in Washington.

Heath Shuler (4-15, .125)  If it wasn’t for Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler would be the biggest quarterback draft bust of all time.  It may actually be debatable, Shuler was an abject failure in Washington, flaming out in two seasons.  He had 13 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.  He was out of the league after the 1997 season.  As a 16 year old Redskins fan during the 1994 draft, I told my father that he was a horrible pick and the Redskins should pick Trent Dilfer instead.  Not that Dilfer turned out to be anything great, but he was the worlds best quarterback when compared to Heath Shuler.

Cary Conklin (0-2, .000)  Conklin was Mark Rypien’s backup in 1993 and replaced him early in the season when Rypien got hurt.  He played well in a loss to the Eagles, then was benched in the middle of his second start.  He was out of the league a year later.

John Beck (0-3, .000)  It’s sad that this is a factual statement, but it is.  Even with this long list of terrible quarterbacks, John Beck is hands down the worst qb the Redskins have ever had.  Drafted by Miami in 2007, Beck was a third string qb for four seasons before coming to Washington.  He then started three games which the Redskins all lost horribly.  He was out of the league after the season.

After preparing this list, it’s hard to get excited about any quarterback they Redskins bring in next year, because history has proven they won’t be any good.

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