A Burgundy and Gold Obsession
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A Burgundy and Gold Obsession

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Like that infamous SNL ‘Point/Counterpoint’ spoof, the NFL Draft debate among Redskins fans has never been hotter.

To go QB or not to go QB – that is the question.

The answer is undeniably, unswervingly, inarguably clear.

Yes. And No.

The NFL draft is fascinating. Despite the ravenous appetite of fans and media-types alike for all-things-draft, the histrionics, second-guessing, and hysterical analysis of whether a given team made an ingenious selection, or crippled the franchise for years to come is really an exercise in futility. It can take years to deem a draft a success or failure.

Redskin’s fans ought to remember that. There’s nothing easier than emphatically pronouncing a team’s selection a ‘blown pick’. Yet fans and sports media talking heads are dead-wrong about NFL prospects as often as they are spot on in their prognostications.

The Redskins absolutely, positively, desperately need a franchise quarterback. And they don’t. I can make a compelling case for those diametrically opposite contentions.

For the better part of a decade, the Redskins have tried for the big fix – that one pick, that elusive missing piece that will magically solve all their problems and vault the franchise to the kind of rampant, sustained on-the-field glory that fans enjoyed during the golden era of Redskins football. No one has loved ‘the sexy pick’ more than our Washington Redskins. Whether acquiring stars in free agency for a king’s ransom, or tossing away picks on crap-shoot players (Jordan Palmer anyone?), the Redskins have tried to short-cut their way to NFL success.

It doesn’t work that way.

With a coach and GM in Ashburn who I believe ‘get it’, look for a Redskins rebuild that looks a lot more like steady competence than fantasy football.

But that doesn’t mean our Redskins won’t try and draft a franchise quarterback next Thursday night.

Unless you believe Rex Grossman or John Beck are going to pull a Warren Beatty ‘Heaven Can Wait’-style resurrection, the Redskins have nothing but questions at quarterback. The search for the answer has been a long walk in the desert for Washington. 10 different starting quarterbacks in as many years tell Redskins fans all they need to know. This team hasn’t had a true franchise quarterback since Joe Theismann.

Can you win consistently without ‘that guy’ behind center? Maybe. But you can’t win with a revolving door at that essential position. The Redskins may not need a true franchise quarterback, one who can take the team on his shoulders and through sheer force of will and talent, carry them to wins. But they need a guy who can consistently perform at a high level. And with a competent coaching staff in place, the easiest way to get that is to draft a talented, coachable youngster and grow him into the role.

That’s why I’ll have absolutely no problem with the Redskins taking a quarterback on Thursday night, whether with the 10th pick or later on. We will never be a perennial playoff team until we stop the revolving door at quarterback. Whether the Redskins benefit from some opening round shocker (perhaps Blaine Gabbert isn’t among the first 9 players selected), or get lucky reaching for one of the other top prospects (Locker, Dalton, or Ponder), going quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft is a reasonable move. To those who think otherwise, I pose one simple question – if not here and now, when and where will the Redskins find their guy? The Redskins may not be in a better draft position to find their QB for years.

Yet I find the argument against going quarterback in this year’s draft almost equally compelling.

The Redskins are not a team on the verge of greatness. The vets who helped Joe Gibbs bring the team back to respectability are aging out. Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Casey Rabach, Chris Cooley – the stalwarts of the previous 7 years are either walking off into the NFL sunset or can see it on the horizon. We have a lot of needs. Sure – the Redskins have a gaping hole at quarterback – there’s no denying that. But building a supporting cast to surround him with, an offensive line to protect him while he develops, a running game that can take the pressure off of him, and talented receiving corps to make his job that much easier – those things must be in place first.

It’s not a bad argument.

Ultimately though, I think it’s a sucker’s choice. It’s not either/or. We need a franchise quarterback. And we need the supporting cast to give him a chance to grow and eventually thrive. We need it all. In what order and how we acquire the pieces of that winning recipe don’t matter.

Thursday night I’ll be watching with the rest of you. When Goodell saunters to the podium and announces ‘With the 10th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins select….’, I’ll pray the Redskins have found their franchise quarterback.

Or that they haven’t.

And no matter which way they go, I’ll have a smile on my face – because I think we’re going to be a better team by the time the credits roll.

Updated 04-24-11 at 12:41 PM by Boone

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