- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The legacy can be daunting. Hall of Famers Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jurgensen. Super Bowl winners Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien. NFC Championship game star Billy Kilmer and 4,000-yard passer Jay Schroeder.

It’s not easy being the starting quarterback in Redskins-obsessed Washington. Since Rypien nose-dived out of town after the 1993 season, no quarterback has managed to keep the job for more than 30 straight games or three consecutive seasons.

The story is different in other cities: Brett Favre has started every game for 14 seasons for the Packers, and the Colts’ Peyton Manning, Eagles’ Donovan McNabb, Patriots’ Tom Brady and Seahawks’ Matt Hasselbeck have started, when healthy, for at least six seasons each.

Not coincidentally, those teams win, too — a combined 39 playoff games and five Super Bowls under those QBs. The Redskins, not so much. They’ve won just two playoff games since 1992, going through quarterbacks as fast as the District goes through school superintendents.

“You look at the teams that win year in and year out and they have the same quarterback every year,” said Jason Campbell, who will start for the Redskins in their season opener. “If we can keep that position stable for a while, I think we’ll have that opportunity.”

Stability certainly would be a welcome addition to the lineup.

Left tackle Chris Samuels has protected nine starters in seven seasons: Brad Johnson, Jeff George, Tony Banks, Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel, Patrick Ramsey, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell and Campbell.

The Redskins tried high draft picks (Heath Shuler, third overall, 1994), low ones (Gus Frerotte, 197th, 1994) and those in between (late first-rounders Campbell and Ramsey). They tried Heisman Trophy winners (Wuerffel) and journeymen who never before entered a game (Trent Green).

They tried quarterbacks who won elsewhere (Jeff Hostetler, Johnson and Brunell) and those who lost everywhere (John Friesz, George, Banks and Matthews). They even tried a quarterback (Tim Hasselbeck) who was less famous than his wife and brother.

Shuler couldn’t stay composed or healthy. Frerotte rose up, then flamed out. Green left as a free agent when the franchise was for sale. Johnson led the Redskins to their only NFC East title in the past 15 seasons but, at the behest of owner Dan Snyder, was benched the next year in favor of the million-dollar arm and 10 cent head of Jeff George.

Ex-Gators Matthews and Wuerffel were just stopgaps for coach Steve Spurrier. Ramsey’s decision-making and mobility were subpar. Brunell turned 34 the week he made his first Redskins start — he never would be a long-term solution.

“Because of the way Gus played, we overcame [Shuler’s failure] for a period of time,” said Norv Turner, the Redskins’ coach from 1994 to 2000. “We were developing continuity with Trent and then when he left, the addition of Brad was the biggest thing from a positive standpoint to happen to the quarterback position when I was there. He could’ve been your long-term quarterback. … [The turmoil] was unfortunate.”

For all the moves and the varied offensive schemes of Turner, coordinator Jimmy Raye, Spurrier, Joe Gibbs and current mastermind Al Saunders, the Redskins still haven’t found a quarterback with the staying power of Rypien (1989-93), let alone Baugh (1937-51), Jurgensen (1964-70), Kilmer (1971-77) or Theismann (1978-85).

Campbell, of course, wants to be that guy.

“You want to be a town that’s known for its football,” Campbell said. “My teams in high school and college were that way. The Redskins have so much tradition, and I’m glad to be a part of it. I’ve talked to Sonny Jurgensen, Doug Williams and Joe Theismann. They all told me to take advantage of the opportunity, to be myself and to play my game.”

Gibbs knows the importance of stability at the position. He served as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator when Hall of Famer Dan Fouts was the quarterback, and he coached Theismann and Rypien when the Redskins were one of the most successful franchises in the league.

“Having a settled deal at quarterback is always important,” Gibbs said. “Quarterbacks have got to show they can get you downfield, get it done, win games and win close games. That all comes with time. We’re betting that happens with Jason.”

After 13 years of chaos, that would be a welcome change.

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