It's been a long time since I've posted on here -- Ken, Kevin, Parks and everyone else have done a great job -- but I wanted to take some time out to make a point I'm surprised not to have seen on this website recently.
Many fans, including our own Ken, continue displaying patience with this franchise that would make Orioles' fans blush. I have seen a ton of arguments on this site for drafting an OL in the upcoming draft, or trading down to garner extra picks and building from there.
I possess a completely different opinion, and I believe there is ample logic to back me up.
I believe the Redskins need to take an elite QB in this draft -- by any reasonable means necessary.
Looking at this NFL season, it is clear that there is no more important characteristic of a football team than the caliber of its quarterback.
The Super Bowl will be a duel between two of the four best QB's this year: Tom Brady and Eli Manning. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees single-handedly led their teams to unbelievable seasons despite weak defenses. Matthew Stafford may have been outside the top 5 NFL QB's this year, yet still hit 5,000 yards -- and the Lions made the playoffs. Matt Ryan caught a lot of flack this year -- but still passed for 29 TD's and 4200 yards, leading the Falcons back to the playoffs.
The teams who made the playoffs this season -- from the Giants to the Falcons to the Patriots to the Bengals -- got there at least in part because of strong play at the quarterback position. Even the 49ers, Ravens, and Broncos received strong play from usually-maligned quarterbacks.
Not because of amazing offensive lines. Not because of amazing defenses (right, New England/NO/GB?). Because of outstanding quarterbacks.
So my proposition is this: If your scouts and coaches believe someone can be the next Eli/Peyton/Rodgers -- and you DON'T do what it takes to get them? You are going backwards.
I believe the elite quarterback the Redskins will have a chance at is going to be Robert Griffin, the Heisman winner out of Baylor. And I believe he's completely worth several future draft picks, given his talent and the state of our franchise.
(Yes, I did just say we should get a QB by any means necessary. The No. 1 pick may not even be for sale, and if it is, the price would have to be one of the most lopsided and indefensible trades in NFL history. As much as we would all like to see Luck in consideration as well, the package required to get Luck at No. 1 would be asinine compared to what would be required to move up to No. 2. So I'm discounting that option. Bear with me.)
I am arguing the Redskins do whatever is necessary to get their QB of the future (and present) in this draft, and that doing anything else should be viewed as an abject, irresponsible failure -- one that could ultimately cost Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen their jobs.
And that man is going to be Robert Griffin III.
Let me briefly introduce you to Robert Griffin III. My guess is everyone here has seen the kid play a few times. But let me throw some facts at you that you may not know.
First of all, his stats are absolutely ridiculous. He completed 72% of his passes, 37 of them for TD's, led the nation in Yards/Attempt, was 2nd nationally in QB rating (ahead of Luck) and, obviously, won the Heisman.
Oh yeah, he also had 700 rushing yards last year and might be the fastest quarterback in NFL history when he hits the field. (He was an All-American sprinter at Baylor.)
Also, by all accounts, RG3 is a leader in the class of Newton and Tebow, which is extremely important to our franchise. There is a tremendous dearth of leadership on the Redskins. Who, at present, is a leader on the Redskins offense?
Furthermore, Griffin is an all-around great guy and incredibly marketable, which makes him appeal from a business standpoint to a declining mega-franchise (losing value and fans every day) with no superstar.
If Andrew Luck was not in this draft, I think it would be completely fair to assume that Griffin would be the No. 1 pick. But the Redskins are lucky. Griffin will be there at No. 2.
The Redskins will not need to trade their entire draft a la Mike Ditka in order to attain Griffin. According to the Trade Value Chart (which is not exactly in stone but seems to be a decent approximation of how picks are valued), the difference between the 2nd pick (2600) and the 6th pick (1600) should be accounted for by this year's first rounder, probably next year's first rounder, and a second or third in addition. That seems like a lot, but I will discuss why it's not as bad as it seems.
Which brings me to the crux of my post. There are several arguments that would seem to support the opposite of my position -- let me try and dispel them as quickly as possible and then make my point.
Myth: The Redskins have to hold on to all their high draft picks at this point, and trading them is foolish and short-sighted.
Facts: You know, if the Redskins don't take a top-tier quarterback in this draft, I would agree fully with this statement. Because the team wouldn't be going anywhere, and that would mean that next year, the Redskins would want another shot at a top tier quarterback like Matt Barkley. Thus, a high 2013 first round pick would be indispensable for a losing team without a quarterback.
But, if the Redskins take RGIII at the top of this draft, we don't necessarily need a top pick in the next draft. Our biggest need will be assuaged, in addition to several other key needs later in this draft (namely OL depth, DB depth, LB depth, all of which can be accrued in later rounds) and free agency (marquee WR, perhaps DB, OL).
We also need to understand this: The Redskins -- nor any other team, for that matter -- won't be a perfect team at any point no matter how many draft picks they have. Drafting for depth is a luxury good teams can afford. We need to draft STUDS at this point because we simply have none of the offense anymore.
(There will always be gaping, seemingly impossible-to-overcome holes on every roster, as there are on the best two teams in the league. Is the Patriots secondary really a Super Bowl secondary? (Julian Edelman????) Are the Giants TE's, CB's or LB's Super Bowl units? The roster will always be flawed.)
Still unwilling to say goodbye to our draft picks? Okay. Say the Redskins stay at No. 6 -- or trade down, even. A lot of people on here seem to advocate for these options. But let me ask you -- If the Redskins take a right tackle, Justin Blackmon, or some other guy of your choosing... do you really think Rex Grossman will turn into Aaron Rodgers?
Even if they add Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson, Justin Blackmon and DeSean Jackson, Rex Grossman is still Rex Grossman, and he would be warming the seat for some guy in the future. Same for the ancient Peyton Manning. Even Matt Flynn (He's 27 at season's beginning) isn't a super-long-term answer at QB, and we would just be putting off the inevitable.
At some point, the Redskins will need to draft a quarterback at the top of the draft. Robert Griffin is a 23 year old track star with a ridiculous arm. If Shanny/Allen believe Griffin can be the guy to lead us to the promised land, why not get him now and save ourselves the trouble and avoid another complete failure of a season? Our franchise and our fanbase just cannot afford to keep waiting around, not taking big steps to get better.
My point: By postponing the drafting of a marquee quarterback for another, we would be doing nothing but putting a band-aid on the wound that has bled this franchise to death since its Super Bowl runs.
Ok, Next Myth for dispelling: You don't need a quarterback in the first round. See Brady/Dalton/Brees as proof.
Fact: You don't need a job either, if you win the lottery. Which is nearly the equivalent of drafting a Pro Bowl QB out of the first round in this league at this point in time.
Let's run through the starting QB's in the league who made the playoffs.
- Rodgers -- 1st
- Brees -- 2nd
- Brady -- 6th
- Stafford -- 1st
- Manning -- 1st
- Flacco -- 1st
- Ryan -- 1st
- Roethlisberger -- 1st
- Tebow -- 1st
- Schaub/Yates -- 2nd/5th
- A. Smith -- 1st
- Dalton -- 2nd
Of the 12 QB's who made the playoffs, 75% were 1st-round picks. Of those in the Conference Championships, all but Brady were 1st rounders.
Ok, not satisfied? How about those that finished in the top 15 in yardage, but weren't included on that list?
- Vick -- 1st
- Cutler -- 1st
- Rivers -- 1st
- Romo -- undrafted
- Sanchez -- 1st
- Newton -- 1st
- Freeman -- 1st
- Fitzpatrick -- 7th
Noticing a trend here? The best quarterbacks in the league are MOSTLY first rounders. Sure, you can find a Drew Brees, a Tony Romo, a Tom Brady later. A few teams have. But the vast majority of teams with capable quarterbacks chose them in the first round of a draft. And haven't had to address their decision since.
Most of the good starters in the league are first rounders. Why take a chance on the most important position in sports if you have an opportunity to get someone who can lead your squad for the next DECADE?
Another Myth: The offensive line is just as (or more) important to a team as the quarterback.
Fact: In Washington, we appreciate good OL's probably more than any other fanbase. (Just look at the title of this blog.) But this is just not true. How long ago was it when the Packers line was considered the worst in football? It was as recent as a season ago. But this year, Rodgers was able to pass for a nearly unprecedented 5,000 yards. Think that's all on the o-line? Remember last year -- or the last ten years -- when the Colts' offensive line was considered among the best in football in pass-pro? Suddenly, Peyton Manning goes down and their lauded offensive line suffered while Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins held the ball too long.
The better OL's in football are not stacked with first round picks. Look at the Giants starting line on their roster -- Snee (2nd), Diehl (5th), Baas (2nd), Boothe (6th), and McKenzie (3rd) are all non-premium picks. Meanwhile, Eli only took 28 sacks this season. (3 more than Grossman, who threw dozens fewer times.)
Meanwhile, Beck took 16 sacks in, what, four games? Think that is only on the offensive line?
Drew Brees took even fewer sacks than Eli. His left tackle, Jerome Bushrod, is out of Towson, for Chrissakes. Other starters: Evans (4th), Nicks (5th), Strief (7th). Not marquee names on draft day.
Pick any OL you want. It is not stacked with first-rounders. And what do the Dolphins (Jake Long), Browns (Joe Thomas), and, shoot, the Redskins (Trent Williams) have in common? They all took premium OL's in the top 4 picks the last few years, all are picking in the top 10 this year, and they all need a QB.
The answer for the Redskins is not to reach for an offensive lineman at No. 6. We have our top-tier left tackle (at the very least, we're stuck with someone who appears to be one) -- and that is the only premium spot on the line (assuming the QB is right-handed). Will Montgomery, Chris Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger appear to be adequate starters, especially given the success of our running game later in the year, and right tackle is a spot that can be drafted anywhere from round two to round five with some confidence of its effectiveness (Jon Jansen was a 2nd rounder, for instance).
Evidence shows continuity on the line and stellar quarterback play are much more important to the success of an offense than marquee OL draft picks.
Myth: The Redskins aren't just a good QB away from being a good team and should build around solid draft picks.
Fact: Teams are built around their quarterbacks. This year's Giants, Pats and Packers are proof of that fact as much as the Bears and Colts were.
Have a star quarterback, you make the playoffs. Take star quarterbacks out of the equation and teams regress toward the bottom.
Every single team I mentioned above has a glaring weakness but overcomes it with great play from their quarterback. The Giants had the worst running game in the league this season (32nd!!!), but their offense is damn near prolific at this point. The Packers and Pats had historically bad defenses, with no marquee RB's on offense, yet they were their conferences' No. 1 seeds.
Meantime, the Bears offense suddenly stopped functioning without Jay Cutler. The Colts went from an offensive juggernaut with a Pro Bowl WR, TE and C to the worst team in the league.
The Redskins running backs, tight ends and wideouts and entire offense would start to look a lot better if someone competent was flipping the ball around. (Not saying by any means we shouldn't grab another WR in this offseason, though.) So, it's time go get one.
Long winded-point: If the staff thinks Robert Griffin is capable of being a top-5 quarterback in the league, it must do whatever is necessary to get him.
This isn't Jason Taylor or Donovan McNabb or Albert Haynesworth. Committing a ton of money and a ton of picks for a guy who has a once-in-a-lifetime skill set at a position of extreme need and importance is not only rational, it is required.
So, what do you guys think? I'm sure an epic debate will ensue.
Thanks for reading.