BUFFALO – As we count down the minutes to Robert Griffin III’s first preseason game, let’s relive the debuts of other ballyhooed quarterbacks in recent Redskins history. I’m talking about Heath Shuler, Patrick Ramsey and Jason Campbell, all of whom were drafted in the first round – and none of whom, alas, proved to be the franchise QB the team was looking for.
● 1994 – Heath Shuler (3rd overall pick): Like RG3, Shuler broke in against the Bills in Buffalo. But he’d missed the first 13 days of camp because of a contract dispute, and it showed in his performance. Working with the second team in relief of starter John Friesz, he completed 4 of 10 passes for 47 yards, was intercepted once and came up empty on all three of his third-down throws.
“I thought I did a really good job,” he said afterward. “Norv [Turner] talked to me about not trying to do anything spectacular and to stay within the system.”
Unfortunately for Heath, the Redskins’ other rookie quarterback, seventh-round selection Gus Frerotte, did an even better job, hitting 15 of 25 passes for 178 yards. Frerotte also led a drive in the last three minutes that would have won the game … if Chris Jacke’s 35-yard field goal hadn’t hit the right upright.
Final score: Bills 13, Redskins 11.
At any rate, this was the beginning of the Heath-vs.-Gus controversy (though no one knew it at the time).
● 2002 – Patrick Ramsey (32nd pick): Ramsey didn’t play until the next-to-last preseason game because new coach Steve Spurrier was busy trying out Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel and Sage Rosenfels. He finally got his chance against the Bucs in Tampa Bay and, playing the second half, was 10 of 20 for 117 yards and a touchdown, with one INT. The TD came on a 12-yard toss to Jacquez Green.
Final score: Redskins 40, Bucs 10.
● 2005 – Jason Campbell (25th pick): Campbell’s opening act was about as understated as they get. In the first week of the preseason against the Steelers at FedEx Field, he entered the game in the fourth quarter and threw just two passes, misfiring on both. (He did connect with running back Nehemiah Broughton for a one-yard gain, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty.)
Other than that, Campbell spent his time handing off – except for the last two plays, when he kneeled down to kill the clock.
Final score: Redskins 17, Steelers 10.
(Sorry, I haven’t got anything for you on Norm Snead.)