Green Bay - Aaron Rodgers
New Orleans - Drew Brees
Kansas City - Patrick Mahomes
Think of a team, think of a player... usually the quarterback. That’s the “face of the franchise”.
It’s not always crystal clear
It’s not always clear all the time who the ‘face of the franchise’ is.
Take Dallas, for example. Is it Dak? Zeke? Amari Cooper? or maybe Jerry Jones?
What about Miami? A young head coach, a rookie quarterback, Fitzmagic, not much established star power.
You can make the argument for players other than quarterbacks as well.
When people think of the Los Angeles Rams, do they immediately think of Jared Goff? Perhaps Aaron Donald or head coach Sean McVay are better bets for the role.
Da Bears, with Khalil Mack, may have a defensive player who just arrived that is more strongly associated with the image of the team than its struggling quarterback, Mitch Trubisky... or is it Nick Foles?
One might have made similar arguments in the past for players like JJ Watt in Houston or Vonn Miller in Denver. Even now, I’m not so sure that those two players don’t outshine their respective quarterbacks when it comes to the guy that is most associated with the franchise — especially in Denver, where the face of the franchise may be the guy who wore #17 and hoisted the superbowl trophy.
But we are Washington Redskins fans, and it occurs to me that the team has been in a bit of an identity crisis recently. The power structure has been overturned with the firing of Bruce Allen; our heir-apparent to the franchise quarterback position has only played nine NFL games, most of which he struggled in to the chagrin of Redskins fans and the larger national audience alike; the long-time “best player on the team”, Trent Williams, was traded away after a bitter year-long battle with the front office. Outspoken CB Josh Norman, perhaps the Redskins player with the highest profile nationally, was cut unceremoniously after falling out of favor in the ‘19 season. Jordan Reed’s Redskins career has come to an end. Jay Gruden was fired. There is a new coach in town, but all the pictures of him are in the blue, silver and black of the Carolina Panthers.
At this point, I wonder if the Redskins have a clear identity; I wonder if we agree on which Redskin is the “face of the franchise”?
Let me run through a few candidates, and then we’ll see what you think.
As the team’s highest paid player and putative starting quarterback, Alex is a possible choice for FotF, but, all things considered, I don’t think anyone will ever really remember Alex Smith first-and-foremost as a Redskin. His profile was raised dramatically by the recent ESPN documentary about his injury and rehabilitation, but the fact is that Alex only played 9 1⁄2 games for the Redskins, and is unlikely to ever play another.
He’s really the only player who has been a consistent producer on offense for the past two seasons, but there are lots of arguments against AD as the face of the franchise, not the least of which is that, when you think of Peterson, you think #28, purple. He may still be the single active player most associated with the Vikings. I think that Peterson’s association with the Redskins is growing as his long tenure with Minnesota fades into the distance a bit, and he is one of the more vocal Redskins when reporters show up with microphones and cameras, but his relatively short tenure with the team so late in his career mitigate against him here.
Scary Terry may not have had a lot of sizzle going into last year’s draft, but in today’s world of fantasy football-playing NFL fans, nothing gets noticed as fast as a skill player who unexpectedly puts up fantasy points every week. If Adrian Peterson was the only consistent offensive weapon for the Redskins over the past two seasons, Terry McLaurin was arguably the most effective weapon of 2019, and Redskins fans expect even more out of him in 2020. As a really talented receiver in “real” football who is likely to only get better, and a high-scoring skill player in fantasy football that will draw attention to himself weekly, Terry McLaurin may have what it takes to become the face of the franchise for the Washington Redskins.
He’s a defensive lineman, but he was a 1st round selection, he got tons of pre-draft hype three years ago, he’s a BCS National Champion from Alabama, and he plays really good football. He’s been credited by a number of people who follow the team closely with being a leader on the team and one of the guys that has helped set a new tone for the locker room. The decision by the Redskins to pick up his 5th year option probably raises his status a bit, and Allen appears to be taking on an even greater leadership role this season, though he may not say enough words in front of the camera to be the face-of-the-franchise.
We picked him in the 1st round of the 2011 draft, one year after Trent Williams. He’s a cornerstone of the franchise. Jay Gruden always said that no one works harder; no one is a better teammate or role model. Ryan Kerrigan is the clean-cut boy-next-door that you hope your daughter will bring home. Redskins fans love him, but, around the league he doesn’t have the kind of profile that one usually associates with a guy who produces the way Kerrigan does.
Collins was the 33rd pick in the 2015 draft, and played his first four years with the New York Giants, where he went to the Pro Bowl three times. He is outspoken in public, and seems to be a leader in the locker room. Collins was part of a dysfunctional secondary unit last year under defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, but he has the opportunity to return to his Pro Bowl form under Rivera and new DC Jack Del Rio. While Adrian Peterson is primarily linked to the Vikings and is late in his career, Collins is in the prime of his NFL life, and has the opportunity to cement his legacy as a Redskin along with other fondly remembered veteran free agents like John Riggins, Santana Moss and London Fletcher.
I remember how immediately Robert Griffin became the face-of-the-franchise when he was drafted in 2012 - it was instantaneous. It’s quite different with Haskins, who was the 3rd quarterback drafted last year, taken #15 overall. After a rookie season that was filled with struggles, he certainly wears the mantle of “quarterback of the future”, but has a lot of challenges ahead to secure his long-term future in DC, starting with mastering a new offense under a new OC and HC in a season with no OTAs or minicamps. The other factor that weighs against him is his natural lack of gregariousness — Haskins is reticent in front of the cameras. He stands up and delivers when he has to speak to the media, but he never really looks like he enjoys it. As the quarterback of the Redskins, Haskins is the most natural choice as ‘face of the franchise’. Possibly, all he has to do to grasp that mantle is to go out on the field in 2020 and play at a high level.
It seems silly to think of a rookie as the face of a franchise — and a defensive player at that! But when you come out of college with the label of “best player in the draft”, every serious football fan in the country knows your name. When you’re the first non-quarterback drafted, you usually go to a team bereft of nationally-recognized stars. Face of the franchise isn’t always about being the best player or the clear leader — it is often about perception of NFL fans who may not know a lot about a particular team, which makes Chase Young a candidate for Redskins face-of-the-franchise in 2020.
Is it possible that the face of the Redskins is not a player, but the head coach, Ron Rivera? Riverboat Ron is strongly associated with the Carolina Panthers, but NFL fans are a pretty adaptable bunch, and it shouldn’t take too many weeks of Ron standing stolidly on the Redskins sideline before it seems as if he’d been standing there forever. He looks good in burgundy and gold.
Rivera has been given as much power in the organization as I can remember a Redskins head coach having in my lifetime. He has made it his mission to re-shape the organizational culture, and it’s likely that the Redskins on-field play will look significantly different than it did under Jay Gruden. One imagines that Rivera’s role in setting the larger direction of the franchise (taken over from Bruce Allen) will also allow him to deeply imprint his vision on how things are done in Ashburn. With such broad power and sweeping responsibility, the entire Redskins organization is likely to take on the personality of the new sheriff in town, making Ron Rivera a very strong candidate for face of the franchise in 2020.
Which Redskin is the face of the franchise in 2020?
This poll is closed