Give me RGIII or give me … Rex? No, scratch that. Make that almost anyone but Rex.
Station colleague Mike Wise is a fine writer, voluble talk show host and a good guy – although he, unlike LaVar Arrington and Chad Dukes, never has me on his show.
That’s probably not going to change once he reads this column ripping his piece in last week’s Washington Post where he said that the Redskins shouldn’t trade a plethora of picks to St. Louis for the right to move up four spots in next month’s draft and take Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner. Wise implied that Washington would be better off focusing on fixing other areas of concern and sticking with Rex “The Human Turnover” Grossman at quarterback?
To which I say, are you kidding, Mike? I agree, as I’ve written previously, that pursuing Peyton Manning, the Hall of Fame lock who’s almost surely going to be cut by Indianapolis this week, is foolish because he’s 36, is in risky shape and will likely clash with equally demanding coach Mike Shanahan.
Apparently, the Redskins are lukewarm about promising but barely tested Green Bay backup Matt Flynn. Jason Campbell’s not coming back here. Chad Henne? Please. And Kyle Orton was beaten out in Chicago by Grossman, for cryin’ out loud.
Since those are the cream of the free agent quarterbacks crop and Andrew Luck is all but certain to be drafted first overall and replace Manning with the Colts, Griffin is the best option for the Redskins.
I’ve been following the burgundy and gold for more than 40 years and they’ve never had a prime, young franchise quarterback unless you count 1994 seventh-rounder Gus Frerotte, who beat out Heath Shuler the No. 3 overall selection in that draft, Campbell, the 25th choice in 2005, or Patrick Ramsey, the final pick in the first round in 2002. None started more than 52games (three-plus seasons) for Washington or was in uniform for a playoff game.
The Redskins’ postseason quarterbacks have been Billy Kilmer, Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theismann, Jay Schroeder, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien, Brad Johnson, Mark Brunell and Todd Collins. All but Schroeder and Rypien were with other teams for years (Theismann in the CFL) before they arrived in Washington.
While New Orleans did win the Super Bowl two years ago with former San Diego quarterback Drew Brees and Johnson prevailed with Tampa Bay after leaving Washington, the other championship passers of the last 11 seasons have been homegrown: New England’s Tom Brady (three titles); the Giants’ Eli Manning and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger (two each); and Peyton Manning and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers (one each).
What’s more, Brees was the only one of the 12 quarterbacks who started a playoff game last season who wasn’t with the team that drafted him. The others were Brady, Eli Manning, Rodgers, Roethlisberger, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, Denver’s Tim Tebow, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford, Houston’s T.J. Yates and San Francisco’s Alex Smith.
Homegrown is clearly the way to go in the 21st century NFL.
Sure, Griffin didn’t run a pro-style offense at Baylor. Sure, he could prove to be a bust just as Shuler was 18 years ago. Sure, USC’s Matt Barkley, who elected to stay in school, could be even better when he’s available a year from now. Sure Washington needs a playmaking receiver, an offensive tackle who can play left and right and help at other spots that could be obtained by keeping its second- and third-rounders. And sure, Texas A&M’s Ryan Taneyhill and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden could wind up being fine NFL quarterbacks if the Redskins opt to hold onto the No. 6 overall pick.
But after just three playoff seasons and two playoff victories during the past 19 years, it’s way past time for the Redskins to get their franchise quarterback, no matter what they have to give the Rams to top the offers from Cleveland, Miami and whomever else covets RGIII.
So there you have it, Mikes (Wise and Shanahan). Give us the kid from Baylor with the big smile (call up a photo on the Internet), wonderful mind (political science degree with a 3.67 grade-point average), fast feet (40 yards in 4.41 seconds at the combine) and strong arm (77 touchdown passes compared to just 17 interceptions). He can’t get here soon enough.
We’re tired of waiting.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of the new book: “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since March.