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Vic Carucci: It's all about the quarterback

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Per Ask Vic at NFL.com, one reader puts to Mr. Carucci why the Redskins succeeded so much in the distant past but so little recently. His answer (w/ the original question):

What's keeping the Washington Redskins from going to the next level? This is a franchise that had incredible success in the past but for the last 15 years-plus has been the laughing stock of the league. Could it really be Daniel Snyder? Bring Bobby Beathard back; there are surfing waves on the east coast. --David H.

It is no secret that the Redskins have thrown an incredible amount of resources at trying to become the team they were in their glory years. I don't think there is any single reason they have fallen short, but the one position they have yet to get right is quarterback.

Jason Campbell could finally prove to be the answer. However, he still is in the early stages of development and needs considerable help from his supporting cast. If Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts consistently perform as the dominant rushing duo, they have the potential to become this year, Campbell could make tremendous progress. If not, he could end up taking backward steps ... and you're going to ask this question again next year.

Might be something to that. Since Mark Rypien won the Super Bowl in the 1991 season, here is the depressing list of quarterbacks who have swooped in and out of Washington with little or only fleeting success: Rich Gannon, Gary Conklin, Heath Shuler, John Friesz, Gus Frerotte, Jeff Hostetler, Trent Green, Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews, Patrick Ramsey, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, and finally, mercifully, Jason Campbell. Please deliver us great Mustached one, what with your divinely inspired initials. We need it. Also, that list doesn't mention players who didn't throw any or very few passes for the team despite their tenure here, like Gibran Hamdan, Rodeny Peete and, of course, the great Sage Rosenfels (I have his rookie card!).

So yea, there's something to that. The most important position on the team has been lacking since Coach Gibbs took the Redskins to their last Super Bowl victory, and we've suffered as a result. To the surprise of no one, the only two years we have made the postseason in the past decade just happened to coincide with impressive or, put differently, non-disastrous quarterback performances:

  1. Brad Johnson 1999 - 60.9% completion, 4005 yards, 24 TD on 13 INT
  2. Mark Brunell 2005 - 57.7% completion, 3050 yards, 23 TD on 10 INT
Brad Johnson had quite a year in 1999, putting him in the top 5 in many passing categories that season. Mark Brunell was efficient in '05 and his mistake-free play contributed significantly towards our postseason.

Hence why the development of Jason Campbell from his respectable (for his first few starts) performance last year into the franchise quarterback of the Redskins is so important. Perhaps more than anything else, our lack of a definite and long term quarterback has hampered our ability to reach the postseason for over a decade.