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Among the Redskins faithful, there has been much gnashing of teeth since Robert Griffin III, performed at the NFL combine last week. The voices have been loud in the “Should they/ shouldn’t they” argument. The argument against is largley this: He will cost too much in the form of surrendered draft picks, and thus will cripple them going forward. That leaves me with two questions. What is a franchise quarterback worth? And is now the time to go all in on the guy, regardless of who he may be?
In regard to the first question. If there is somebody among the littany of QB choices this year, that the Shanahan/Allen regime believes is absolutely the guy, then they should pay whatever the price may be. It’s become a cliche’, but this is a quarteback league. Teams simply must have a top tier QB to succeed at the highest level. And by that, I mean play in a Super Bowl. The NFL has tweaked and twisted the rules to make quarterbacks ever more important.
People love to immediatley blurt out “TENT DILFER” when it is pointed out that a great QB is essential. But look at the facts. Since Dilfer won 11 years ago in 2001, there have been 22 starting QB slots in Super Bowls. Of those 22 slots only five were not filled by guys who, at some point in their career were in the Hall of Fame conversation. Rich Gannon, Brad Johnson, Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Delhome, and wait for it…. Sexy Rexy. The other 17 have been top level guys. Before you scream, “McNabb is not top level!”, back it up Skippy. Yes, the last few years have been tough for McNabb. But prior to his decline, he was NFC Player of the year, NFC offensive player of the year, a 6 time Pro-Bowler, and went to 4 NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl.
More recently, you have to go back to ’07 with Rex to see anyone in the big game, who is not a stone cold asassin at the QB position. Simply put, no team is going to be great without a great quarterback. So keep all the draft picks you want. Without a sniper behind center, it’s all for naught.
Lately I keep hearing “why all the ugency now?”. Two reasons, really. First, they hit rock bottom in 2011 with Rex and Beck. Second, they have not, in the last 15 years, been in a better situation to make the move. They have tons of cap room if a free agent is the answer. But more importantly, draft-wise they are in the best position I can remember.
In order to draft in the top two or three positions, you generally have to have 3 or fewer wins. It is hard to be that bad. But at number six, with 8 picks this year they are as close as they may get for a while. RGII may cost as much three first rounders, but that really means two. They’re going to swap number ones this year and lose two of the next two. The leaders have shown me enough, to have faith that they can find talent in the later rounds. Plus, consider this. The addition of Leonard Hankerson and Jarvis Jenkins next year, is kind of like getting two high picks this year. The concensus in Ashburn is that these two will be good, and gave the team nearly nothing last year.
Mediocrity at QB would be a huge leap forward for the Redskins. But ulitimately that is an anchor on the team. Moving to 8-8 only keep them from getting the stud they really need. I don’t evaluate players for a living, so I’m not sure who that stud is. But there is a legion of people in Ashburn who do. So, at ther end end of the day, if they find the guy, do whatever it takes to make him your guy.
I’m all in on _______ as the new quarterback for the Redskins in 2012. Vague? Maybe. But focus not on the blank, but on the word “new”. New as in not Rex Grossan or John Beck. This year more than any I can remember, the QB options abound for teams picking near the top of the draft. All of which seem to be better than what they have had since Jason Campbell left town.
Some likely options:
Peyton Manning- The 800 lbs gorilla in the room is; will he get the strength back and be able to make all of the throws he could in the past? Let’s assume that he can. Save for the neck stuff, he has been an iron man. He’s otherwise healthy, takes care of himself and should be able to play for four or five more years. Mike Shanahan will trust him enough to hand over the control that Manning will need to be effective. With QB of his caliber at the helm, just sit back and watch how much better everyone else gets. The O line suddenly gets better because of quicker decision making and a faster release. The receivers somehow manage to get open more often and now get more yards after the catch. Accuracy makes a mediocre receiver look good. Witness the wideouts who looked good in New England , and could not produce anywhere else. With fewer men in the box, instantly your running backs seem to be more explosive and have better vision. When you play with a lead, watch how many sacks Kerrakpo can post. Manning’s health is a big IF, but even under a best case scenario, they must draft his replacement this year or next. The draft is deep with QB’s this year, so now is probably the time.
Matt Flynn- I know, I know three games is not a big enough sample to judge a quarterback. Kevin Kolb, Matt Cassel, and Scott Mitchell show that it is a big risk to take Matt Flynn. And if I had a dime for every back-up QB who threw 6 TD’s against a play-off team, I’d have….oh yeah. A dime. The big indicator will be if Dolphin’s new head coach, Joe Philbin goes after him hard in free agency. Philbin was Flynn’s offensive coordinator last year, and if the Dolphins are not interested, then nobody should be. I just know that in one game he threw three times as many TD passes as John Beck did in three. Maybe 20 years of mediocrity or worse has made me willing to accept anything new, with the promise of being better than the last. He likely won’t cost any draft picks, and his salary number is reported to be in the 3-4 million dollar range(I suspect it will go much higher). So in that regard the risk is fairly low.
Robert Griffin III- This guy just makes me salivate. I mean he could be the next Heath Shuler. Wait, wait. That’s not what I meant. He could be the highest pick the Redskins have ever used for a QB. Assuming they trade up to the second position to get him. He has everything that you would want. Big arm, fast, smart, accurate, and fast. Did I say fast? The great thing about him is, that despite blazing speed, he always looks to pass first. He moves in the pocket, shifts to avoid pressure, and keeps his eyes downfield the whole time. But when everything breaks down, he’ll bolt from the pocket and make defenders look silly trying to catch him. That is a skill that he’ll need on a team like the Redskins. The downside is it will cost a ton in draft picks to get him. Obviously they’ll swap the #6 pick with (the Rams?) plus next year’s first rounder and another pick. Possibly another first rounder. That’s a lot, BUT… Look at the last 6 or 7 Super Bowls. The odds of winning one without at top shelf QB are slim. So roll the dice. You can build a team safely and get to 9-7. Where’s the fun in that?
Kyle Orton and Ryan Tannehill/Brock Osweiler/Kirk Cousins/Brandon Weeden/etc- Kyle Orton looks like an NFL QB. I liked him at Purdue. He just looked like a pro. But results at the pro level tell a different story. He lost his job in Denver to Tim Tebow, who completes about 45% of his passes. He does not suck. He could improve the Redskins to 10-6, but that is not the goal. He would however serve as a bridge to the new guy. The same role that Grossman was supposed to play, except better. What evidence do I have? None. But could it be worse?
Life under the Snyder regime has lead many fans to a point at which we will take anything over the suckitude that we currently endure. But this year feels different. The landscape is lush with choices. More than half of which should be successful. I’ve been told that Shanahan is a great judge of QB talent. If so, he’ll make the right choice. If not, a fourth whiff in three years will earn him his walking papers. A new QB will buy him at least two more years, but make no mistake, this next choice of QB is his Rubicon. Get it right, and it’s wine and rose. Get it wrong, and it’s… Well we know what it is. We’ve seen it for 20 years.