Hindsight is 50-50

A Burgundy and Gold Obsession: Hindsight is 50-50

In April of 2020, the brain trust in Ashburn Virginia was confronted with its first crucial decision – what to do with the 2nd overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.

They blew it.

Let me provide one huge caveat to that harsh assessment right from the outset. Drafting the best player in ANY draft, and Chase Young was that player, is never a ‘mistake’. Young was a dominant, perhaps even generational talent who as a rising senior likely still had room to grow. Give 100 NFL GMs that pick and all the options accompanying it, and 99 of them select Chase Young.

It was the biggest no-brainer in draft history.

And yet, it may well prove to have been the wrong decision.

It’s been so long ago that Washington has had a true franchise QB under center, I can’t even decide who would actually qualify as deserving of the descriptor. Leaving that debate for another time, let’s just agree that the Redskins/WFT/team to be named later has been wandering the desert in search of a QB for decades. We have yet to resort to drinking our own urine but there’s no arguing – we ran out of water a long time ago.

Fans have done little else but suffer over the course of all these QB-less years, teased only occasionally by brief glimpses of competency, morsels of imagined glory that only further whet our ravenous appetites. Both ironically and cruelly, rarely did our ineptitude result in disastrous failure, but more often merely mediocrity. Thus, the fool’s prize, a top draft pick to aid us in our search for the promised one, has eluded us over and over again.

In the absence of a top pick, the opportunity to (at least theoretically) grab that next ‘sure thing’ franchise QB, we’ve resorted to desperate measures to cheat our way to a franchise QB. Trading a king’s ransom in picks to draft RG3, placing multiple franchise tags on a better-than-average Kirk Cousins in the hope he’d prove to be our next Sonny Jurgensen and decide DC was the place to be, and most recently, letting the owner pick the next QB. Which of these ill-conceived approaches was the most disastrous, it’s hard to say?

Some of you are already preparing your counter here. There is no guarantee that a high draft pick will yield a franchise QB. And you will find no argument from me. That data clearly demonstrates this as fact. But the number of failed QB prospects taken with early draft picks is as much a testament to the critical nature of the QB position as it is a condemnation of the strategy. Teams without a top tier QB will seek to find one with their highest pick, over and over and over again. It matters that much. No – a top pick does not guarantee you find your franchise QB. But it does guarantee that you’ll get to pick the guy you believe can be before 30 other NFL teams get the chance. Like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Washington had it’s opportunity. But instead of the lottery they bought savings bonds.

We rationalize. Look at RG3. How did that work out? Defense wins championships. The Ravens won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer under center. We need to build the offense from the trenches first. While none of those assertions are wrong, they belie the truth. It’s really hard to consistently win in the NFL when you don’t have a QB.

Good lord – as rabid lifelong Washington fans, can we just admit that?

On Sunday, the WFT will take on the Los Angeles Chargers. Under center will be the young star QB that Washington should have taken with pick #2 of the 2020 draft. Justin Herbert. In his rookie campaign, all Herbert did was throw for 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns, just 10 interceptions, and complete almost 67% of his passes.

Yesterday, Ron Rivera was asked about Justin Herbert. After effusively lauding Herbert and his skillset, Rivera made a couple of interesting comments.

‘You draft who you think you need, and that’s what we did’.

I suppose it’s possible that Rivera means they *thought* they were set at QB with Dwayne Haskins on the roster. But I’m more than a little skeptical, given how things transpired from there.

‘When you get an opportunity to find that QB, a young man like him, that’s what you wanna get and hold to. Part of it also is hindsight, now you get a chance to see that he’s had success, that he’s capable of that. He was offensive rookie of the year last year for a reason obviously.’

Rivera was not asked directly about the decision to draft Chase Young vs. other options, but he volunteered this response, specifically using the word ‘hindsight’. Do Rivera and the other decisionmakers in Ashburn regret taking Chase Young, and not Justin Herbert at pick #2?

I doubt it. Chase Young is hardly anyone’s consolation prize. He may well be a future Hall of Famer.

But would they make that same decision knowing what they know today?

That my friends, is an entirely different matter.

Had Washington selected a QB at pick #2, there’s no guarantee it would’ve been Herbert who was the choice. Most pundits would have had us taking Tua Tagovailoa instead. And while it’s likely, had Washington not selected Chase Young gone #2, that Young would be a Detroit Lion today, it’s also possible he slides to pick #4. Facing Chase Young in a New York Giants uniform twice a year for the foreseeable future is an unpleasant proposition.

So while it’s hard to criticize the Chase Young pick, there is no question about the impact of true franchise QB versus a great defender and pass rusher, no matter how transformative the talent. We had the chance to draft Justin Herbert in the 2020 draft. We did not.

I think time will show we blew that pick.

Then again, in the words of the great Steve Spurrier, ‘Hindsight is always 50-50’.
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