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The Case Against a 'Splash' QB Move

One of many experimental iterations ...

Boone

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I hear it all over social media.

To be a great team, you have to have a top tier, franchise caliber QB. And Washington needs one desperately.

I'm not here to argue that point - because I can't. We all know, setting aside Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson outliers, that teams generally don't go beyond the first couple of rounds of the NFL playoffs unless they have a premier QB. While there are certainly other factors involved, like having a great defense, or a dominating rushing attack, to be a great team, you have to have, at bare minimum, a very good QB.

There are only 4 ways to get a very good QB.

1. Do a mega-trade to acquire a proven top tier QB from another team.
2. Do a mega-deal to move up in the NFL draft for a top-rated QB.
3. Draft a young QB outside of the top 10 picks and hit the jackpot.
4. Stumble blindly onto a great QB ala Kurt Warner.

Although Washington has floundered more and for longer than any other NFL team in their efforts to find a great long-term QB, they've generally avoided option #1. We've usually squandered enough draft picks and lack enticing talent on our own roster to prohibit pulling off a big-time trade for a known star. And who would really want to come here if they are a successful star at the QB position?

We have gone the option #2 route recently - with RG3. Had Griffin proven to be what we thought he might be that first season, those three 1st round picks would've been worth it. But we were hypnotized by Griffin's electric athleticism and only later did it become apparent, the guy really couldn't play QB at an NFL level. That's, at it's core, the reason why you don't make big moves to move up in the draft for a QB - because you can never truly know if he will be an NFL success. You are also one career-threatening injury away from wasting a ton of draft capital. Blowing a pick like that after giving up the farm - is disastrous.

When it comes to getting lucky with a QB selection outside the top 10, our most successful stretch at QB came courtesy of a 4th round insurance pick in Kirk Cousins. Love him or hate him, Cousins was a very good QB given where we selected him. Had we gone with Cousins instead of RG3, and had better coaching and stability around him, he might well have made Washington a perennial playoff team for a long time. Instead we gave up numerous picks to get the wrong QB, squandered Cousins talent, and finally alienated him by failing to lock him up for the long-term resulting in an ugly departure.

Over and over again, we've seen top QB picks bust. Sure, there are the occasional Andrew Lucks who are so dominant and talented at the college level, they're as close to 'can't miss' as there ever will be. But those kinds of talents are rare indeed. Many teams have found their starting QBs with later picks. Of the 32 current NFL QB starters, only half of them were drafted with a top 10 pick. Many of them (11 total) were selected in the 2nd round and beyond. Not all of the current NFL starters are what we would call 'franchise QBs' - but the point stands. Teams find their starter outside of the top 10 as often as they do inside of it.

So why can't we?

Option #3 is ideal for the most obvious of reasons. Firstly, although we can rightly heap criticism on Dan Snyder's era of failure, one thing we have generally accomplished is mediocrity. Rarely have we performed so badly as to warrant a top 5 or even top 10 draft pick. We've mostly been just good enough not to earn a top pick, and bad enough not to be very successful. When you don't have top 10 draft picks, you'd better be able to find a QB somewhere else. We haven't been able to accomplish that. Why not? Most recently we've suffered from having an owner who usurps and rejects draft advice from the very scouting experts we've hired to help us make the right decisions. The owner, who has never played or coached a down of college or NFL football, needs to be far away from the QB draft selection process. We can hope that Daniel Snyder has learned that lesson, although it's more likely he blames the disastrous Dwayne Haskins debacle on anything but his own interference.

If we believe we have a competent scouts and draft gurus, Option #3 is ideal because we know that it's possible to find a QB gem with a value pick. That allows us, not only to get our QB of the future, but to retain draft capital and existing talent and be able to build around him and give him the best chance of success. This approach has not worked in Washington, firstly because we've rarely drafted young QBs with a real chance of being franchise QBs, and when we have, we have tended to fire the staff that made the selection and impose that young QB on the next regime. Traditionally, successful teams put absolute faith in their scouts and draft board, select a young QB that everyone (particularly the head coach and offensive coordinator) believe in, and they develop him with stable, consistent staff around him.

Doesn't sound like the approach in DC over the past 20 years, does it?

And of course, there is always Option #4 - get flat out, no-one-saw-this-coming lucky. We all know the problem with this option... the Redskins have never been particularly lucky. It remains to be seen if karma is any kinder to the WFT. But teams DO occasionally find a diamond in the rough who shocks everyone and becomes an NFL starter. Could Taylor Heinicke be a budding Drew Brees that simply slipped through the NFL's imperfect assessment system? Does he have the intangibles that are so hard to define and capture and that might make him a future star? It's possible. But we can't head into the future banking on it, no matter how impressive his brief display of talent. Kyle Allen is a talented young QB, but he's also struggled to stay on the field, and has shown a propensity to turn the ball over. Can he overcome those hurdles to be a bonafide NFL starter? We just don't know.

Right now, there is a ton of fan heat and energy advocating for Options #1 and #2. Most want to make a huge splash deal for Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, or Matthew Stafford. I get it. We've been without a real impact starting QB for longer than any of us can remember. Setting aside Griffins single electric season, when is the last time we had a QB who could take the team on it's back in a critical game, and win it for us? How long has it been since we had a QB who, just by having him on the roster, nearly guaranteed we'd be a playoff team for any given season?

Good lord, we've been wandering the QB desert for eons.

I get the impulse to make a big mega-deal to trade for a star QB or move up to draft a top-rated prospect.

But that's the old Redskins way. It's a desperate Hail Mary short cut that will cost us a King's ransom in draft capital and/or existing talent. We must hope Rivera resists the impulse to pull either of those triggers.

Of late, we've been inexplicably and decidedly anti-Redskins in our approach. We've hoarded our draft picks. We've mostly used them wisely. With rare exception, we've trusted our scouts and draft board. We've added young talent. We've found hidden gems with day 2 picks and beyond. We have more than the beginnings of a very young, talented roster. But the next several drafts are going to be critical to moving beyond a gutsy young team with some marquee talent to one that literally strikes fear in the hearts of opponents. And we finally have a coach who gets it, who can instill a winning tradition and spirit in the guys we do add to the mix. This team can be a perennial playoff participant that's a threat to go to and win a Super Bowl - but only if we keep building the right way.

It's true. To be a successful NFL franchise, we have to find a highly capable franchise QB, but we can do that the right way.

Building the right way means finding our next QB in the upcoming draft, whether it's at pick 19 or beyond. If we don't believe Kyle Allen or Taylor Heineke can be that hidden gem who suddenly seizes control at QB, there is a QB in this draft that can fit that bill for us. It's our front office's job to find him. Don't give away the future for a quick fix, don't sell the farm to move up to the top of the draft to 'boost your chances'. Don't make a panic move just when we are on the verge of success. Keep building. Keep your precious capital. Keep adding talent. And find our QB with the picks you possess.

It can be done. And that's how we've got to do it.
 

Boone

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I did leave out one option, call it Option#5...we very well could go after a lesser tier FA QB who we feel perhaps has been misused or who has talent but hasn't been developed well or been put in a position to be successful.... guys like Darnold or Mariota or Carr... I would be fine with making a move like that if we don't give up a lot to do so. It falls back to my primary point which is, ultimately, you have got to trust your scouts and personnel experts to help you bring in a QB at a reasonable cost.
 
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SilentThreat

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Heck of a post Boone!!!

I would love to find our future QB in this upcoming draft, and I have a feeling there will be plenty of options as there will be a lot of veteran QBs changing teams in the months leading up to the Draft.


My only 'argument' against this approach is the current state of the franchise and the potential window we're currently in. We have a defense that is sniffing top tier status. We saw what can happen to it when it goes up against Tom Brady, but regardless of that we were down by 3 when the 4th quarter started against a team that everyone in the world knows was better than us. The argument we could make is that having a guy like Stafford (and I don't think the 19th pick plus a 2nd is a 'major splash imho') on THIS roster, had he been our QB THIS year, we're 10-6 and very well could have beat Tampa Bay. That's all speculation but we had something like the 30th ranked QB position in the league this year. Our most productive game of the season was arguably with Taylor Heinicke at QB.

I think we're in a window of 2 - 3 years with this current defense before pieces are lost. Now obviously if you retain Young / Sweat / Allen you can continue to build and retool around them... but it's likely in 5 years that you wont have those 3 AND Ioannidis / Payne / Settle, so next season we're talking about a serious window with a top notch QB at being not only the favorite to win the division, but maybe well beyond that.... just something to think about.
 

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I think our best move is to go after a lesser tier FA to hold the fort while we use our drafts to fill in other holes. I think it's tough enough to give up the farm for one person when you have a ton of other holes, but if that one person gets injured then all those picks go to waste and you have no way to rebuild easily. We have to hedge our bets so to speak....and that is no commentary on GameStop. And who knows...maybe a Kyle Allen or a lower drafted QB works out to be the replacement for the rent a QB.
 

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This is the approach that I'm totally on board with.

While a large part of me would love to see Watson sitting under center, the thought of what we'd need to give up to get him makes me nervous.

Maybe it's just our history that makes me nervous, but when we tried trading up... RGIII happened and (after an awesome rookie year) it set us back for years.

And when we splashed out for an aging but respected Veteran... Alex Smith's injury happened. Fluke - yes, but it just shows how tying a large part of our cap up in one player can backfire horribly.

I personally lean more toward the 'use the picks we have wisely' approach. Maybe try a smaller move up the draft board that's not going to break us for years. QB's are there to be had, you just have to find the right one...and that's the tough part. But I'd like to see us have a good QB on a rookie contract to make the most of this window.

I also feel more confident that Rivera and his brain trust might just be the ones doing the picking this year. I'm truly hoping that Dan has learnt the error of meddling. I'd like to see us PROPERLY scout and let the football minds pick the QB.
 

Boone

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Heck of a post Boone!!!

I would love to find our future QB in this upcoming draft, and I have a feeling there will be plenty of options as there will be a lot of veteran QBs changing teams in the months leading up to the Draft.


My only 'argument' against this approach is the current state of the franchise and the potential window we're currently in. We have a defense that is sniffing top tier status. We saw what can happen to it when it goes up against Tom Brady, but regardless of that we were down by 3 when the 4th quarter started against a team that everyone in the world knows was better than us. The argument we could make is that having a guy like Stafford (and I don't think the 19th pick plus a 2nd is a 'major splash imho') on THIS roster, had he been our QB THIS year, we're 10-6 and very well could have beat Tampa Bay. That's all speculation but we had something like the 30th ranked QB position in the league this year. Our most productive game of the season was arguably with Taylor Heinicke at QB.

I think we're in a window of 2 - 3 years with this current defense before pieces are lost. Now obviously if you retain Young / Sweat / Allen you can continue to build and retool around them... but it's likely in 5 years that you wont have those 3 AND Ioannidis / Payne / Settle, so next season we're talking about a serious window with a top notch QB at being not only the favorite to win the division, but maybe well beyond that.... just something to think about.
I agree timing matters - but when you say we have a 2-3 year window on defense, are you saying that because you don't think we can retain these guys? I think that remains to be seen. We may not retain all of them, but if we add some dominating LBs, safeties, and DBs, we may not need all that talent on the DL. If we do give up the bank for a star QB, it's unlikely we fill all (if any) of the holes we have with impact players, especially on the OL and WR ranks - so while it may give us a huge boost at QB, that alone hasn't won championships elsewhere - has it? You yourself pointed it out. We won 7 games (and easily could've won 9) with some of the shakiest QB play in the league. A couple drafts to add serious talent in the areas where we need it, we might be able to win with Mark Sanchez back there.

I will admit - I oppose a big splash move in large part because it simply feels so damn Redskins-like.

If they were able to get Stafford at a relative bargain price (and I would define that as this year's 19th pick) - then by all means. But teams with veteran 'star' QBs are going to be looking to make fools of potential bidders. I'm tired of rooting for a team lead by fools.
 
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Boone

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And here's another reason to root against the 'splash' move - very likely Rivera and company may not be the ones driving it if it happens.


Of course, Jay was only told this later, as he was out in the parking lot trying to lure teens into his van to smoke a doob with him
 
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SilentThreat

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I agree timing matters - but when you say we have a 2-3 year window on defense, are you saying that because you don't think we can retain these guys? I think that remains to be seen. We may not retain all of them, but if we add some dominating LBs, safeties, and DBs, we may not need all that talent on the DL. If we do give up the bank for a star QB, it's unlikely we fill all (if any) of the holes we have with impact players, especially on the OL and WR ranks - so while it may give us a huge boost at QB, that alone hasn't won championships elsewhere - has it? You yourself pointed it out. We won 7 games (and easily could've won 9) with some of the shakiest QB play in the league. A couple drafts to add serious talent in the areas where we need it, we might be able to win with Mark Sanchez back there.

I will admit - I oppose a big splash move in large part because it simply feels so damn Redskins-like.

If they were able to get Stafford at a relative bargain price (and I would define that as this year's 19th pick) - then by all means. But teams with veteran 'star' QBs are going to be looking to make fools of potential bidders. I'm tired of rooting for a team lead by fools.

I said in my post that I had my doubts about having ALL of them beyond a few years from now... but I've also posted elsewhere on the board that I don't think the window is as close to closing as some people think. I BELIEVE with proper cap management we can keep this D-line in tact for 4 more seasons. That doesn't mean our window is ONLY 4 years, because things can happen beyond that and Tim Settle going elsewhere doesn't necessarily mean the window is closed. I'm just saying that the window that is open where Sweat and Young on rookie deals (Edge being the highest paid position along the line). Allen and Payne up for contracts after NEXT season, with Ioannidis the following. Investment concerns will arise.. that's all.


I agree about the led by fools... but this year is unique. There is going to be a lot of turnover at the QB position and we're in a position where we have more cap capital than most other teams in the league. I don't want to 'overpay' for Stafford, but I also don't want a unique opportunity to be missed because we're gunshy due to history. A history that has been led by bad 'football people'.
 

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Boone

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So if Washington is looking to make a 'splash' move against my advice (lol), who would be their next target? I'm not sure they have one because Watson, at these kinds of insane prices, is beyond any sane team's reach. Probably the only splash move possible from here would be going after Dak Prescott. In his case, it would be the salary required that is going to be insane. You also have the injury factor to consider, assuming they even view him as the kind of QB we can win with long-term.

My guess is, we will focus on the next tier of QBs - maybe go after Darnold? But who the hell knows.
 

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Is Darnold a free agent?

Watson has apparently vocalised that the Jets would be his preferred destination in trade, and as he has a no-trade clause he has some leverage to where he wants to go.
If that came to pass, would Darnold potentially be a part of that trade deal?

There's a lot of moving parts to the QB market this year, a huge game of musical chairs. The best course of action is to try not to get suckered into the fancy chairs up front, but also not be the one left standing without a seat at the end.
I definitely think we're looking at teh second tier, it now comes down to who is going to be available at the right time and the right price.
 

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I don't believe so - but conventional wisdom is that the Jets will surely be tempted to take a QB with such a high 1st round pick. Doesn't mean that's right, but that's the thinking. I don't know what I think about Darnold.
 

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No Darnold is not a FA so if a trade were to occur with Houston I'd wager he'd be part of the package. A friend of mine hit me up early this morning about the Stafford/Goff trade and thinks this makes moving Watson more difficult since they got 2 1st's and a 3rd for a 33 year old Stafford but I also believe the Rams had to part with that much draft capital because of the albatross that is Goff's contract. I think Stafford would've fetched a 1st and maybe a 3rd in the following year under normal circumstances. It'll now be interesting what the Eagles due with Wentz, another albatross of a contract if they decide to move him. I still see Wentz going to the Colts, I don't know why but I do. I think right now with the salary cap reduction coming and the oddity of the QB market right now we sit still this year until the dust settles, it's too volatile and we aren't "one piece" away yet to give up the farm. Bring in some vets, Bridgewater if he gets cut, Fitzmagic etc.
 

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Well - they didn't 'have to' - the Rams could've theoretically paid some of that contract themselves. Wonder boy and his GM have given out so many big contracts though, they sort of hemmed themselves into a position where giving up 1st rounders like candy is more palatable than giving up the cash.
 

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Here's the problem with bringing in one of these 2nd tier guys - be it a Darnold, a Garappollo, a Winston - whoever it might be. They are unproven, or have been inconsistent, or appear to have significant flaws in their games (to date). We can't waste 2-3 seasons on a QB who already has an unproven track record. We'll completely waste a budding potentially dominating defense, the best years of guys like McLaurin and Gibson, etc...

Let's face it. In most cases, guys who haven't succeeded on a grand scale by year 3 or 4 - never will. There's a temptation to believe that, if only they are placed with the right system, the right talent, with a little more experience the light bulb will finally go off. And it almost never happens.

These guys are 2nd tier guys mostly for one reason alone. Because they are 2nd tier talents. At least if you draft a rookie QB, there is actual potential that you catch lightning in a bottle.

I'm a little 'all over the place' with my QB thoughts currently. And unfortunately, I worry that the WFT is as well.
 

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I don't think they're in a position to eat any of Goff's contract because as you stated of the big deals they've handed out so only thing left is draft capital. The Rams appear to know their window is closing and that's just a fact of the new NFL with big money deals at every position it seems every year, ten years ago paying a guard 15 mil would've been hysterical (yes the cap has gone up) but the way that effects a 52 man roster is tough to navigate long term. Gone are the years imo of the hometown/drafted by discount or players going to NE on the cheap because of a chance to win, the curtains been pulled in NE and the wizard can't win without that guy, think he's about to play in another SB. Here's a vomitous thought thinking of albatross contracts, you think Minny wants a redo on the Cousins money? He could end up in San Fran since the 9'ers appear to have the space to pull it off. For us I just don't want to be holding someone else's big contract thinking all of sudden were SB bound when we've got holes in other places we can fix first without dropping our pants like Singletary to show how much man we are.
 

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Living up here on Long Island I watch Sam Darnold play every week and while I not an NFL coach it doesn't take a lot to see he is a kid with tremendous talent that's in a horrible coaching situation . Things could get interesting for us here soon as the second tier QB's become available . Dak is interesting option (obviously the injury is concerning) Matt Ryan ,Wentz , Carr all could provide stability at the position for 3-4 years . The elephant in the room for me is Cam. I want no part of that and it makes me nervous because Rivera likes to surround himself with old relationships.
 

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I think you have to rule out Ryan due to his age. Wentz has been very inconsistent since that first breakout season (and there are also the rumors about his personality/temperment/leadership issues). Carr - he's a Jeckyll and Hyde type QB, you never know which guy you're going to get from game to game. I think Prescott's salary demands may move him off the list. I don't have an opinion on Darnold, although my Jets fan buddy Tony views him exactly as you do Rhino. Of all of the guys you referenced, he may be the one with the most upside, and the guy for whom one can make the most excuses.
 

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If casual fans can figure out that Newton is done, why on earth would we believe that Rivera and Turner, the guys who benched him for Kyle Allen, don't see it? There is zero chance Rivera wants Cam anywhere near this roster. Put that out of your mind :)
 

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