The glory days of the Washington Redskins were from 1981-1992 when they won three Super Bowl Championships. But since Joe Gibbs ended his first run as the head coach of the Redskins in 1992, things have been sketchy at best for this franchise. Since 1992, Washington only has three division titles and two playoff victories. And each time that the Redskins appear to be putting something together, it quickly dissipates.
In 2002, the Redskins hired Steve Spurrier to be their new head coach after he had a successful run as the head football coach for the Florida Gators. Spurrier was supposed to revolutionize the Redskins offense. But in two years in D.C., Spurrier’s record was 12-20. Redskins owner Dan Snyder then reached out to Gibbs to return to the team in 2004, but in four years he was unable to return Washington to glory. In 2012, Washington traded up to the second overall pick in the National Football League Draft to select quarterback Robert Griffin III. As a rookie, RG3 would set the NFL on fire due to his athleticism, however after he suffered a knee injury towards the end of that season, he would never be the same player with the team.
The same year that the Redskins drafted Griffin, they also used a fourth-round selection on quarterback Kirk Cousins. Coming out of college Griffin had the sizzle, but Cousins was the more polished pro passer. In Cousins’ first three years he would see sporadic action behind Griffin. However following Washington’s 4-12 campaign in 2014, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden made the decision to make Cousins his full-time starting quarterback.
In 2015, Cousins would become a popular man amongst the folks in D.C. as he set a single-season passing mark for the Redskins as he threw for 4,166 yards en route to helping Washington win the NFC East for the first time since 2012. This past season Cousins would take it a step further as he threw for 4,917 yards, but he was unable to get the ‘Skins back to the postseason.
Cousins was set to become a free agent until the Redskins slapped the dreaded franchise tag on him for the second consecutive year. Cousins appears to be the long-term answer at quarterback in Washington, however the organization has not done right by him.
After the franchise tag was attached to Cousins, he has asked the team to be traded due to the fact that the top two wide receivers for the Redskins from 2016 won’t be returning next season. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon who led Washington in receiving yards last season with 1,041 is joining the San Francisco 49ers, while wide receiver DeSean Jackson who was second on the team with 1,005 receiving yards will now be a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was doubtful that Washington was going to be able to sign both players, but there was optimism that they’d be able to retain at least one. However both will be suiting up for new teams which has not made Cousins happy as 2,046 receiving yards from last season is out the door. And now it will take a lot of smoothing over by the Redskins to make things right with Cousins.
But this shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that has followed the Redskins since Snyder became the owner in 1999. Under Snyder, Washington has employed eight different head coaches, while they’ve had 16 different starting quarterbacks. Snyder has tried to bring Washington a winner and each time he has failed.
Just because Cousins wants a trade doesn’t mean that the Redskins are going to oblige him, but they are rolling the dice more than ever. The Redskins are now going to have to overpay Cousins if they want to keep him happy as his frustrations could make for a media firestorm. Cousins has been able to navigate Gruden’s offense with success and the last thing that the head coach can afford to do is to start over at the quarterback position.
Now the Redskins are going to have figure out how to address their wide receiver situation between the draft and free agency as their top returning wide receiver from last season is Jamison Crowder with 847 yards. But much of what Crowder was able to do was based off of the ability of Jackson and Garcon, along the attention that they attracted.
After making the postseason in 2015, the Redskins missed out on consecutive playoff appearances by just one win last season. And instead of improving off of that, Washington is headed backwards. When Gibbs was in his heyday, he won three Super Bowl Titles with three different quarterbacks as he is the only head coach in National Football League history to do so. Gibbs was able to do this because he had a solid system in place, but since that time the Redskins have been an organization that is typically in disarray which is once again front and center.