The end of the year approaches, as does - based on the calendar of your convenience - the end of the decade. These are times when lists are compiled to remember the good times and the bad, the stars and the stiffs, over the first decade of the 21st century.
Such reflection should normally bring a smile to the faces of sports fans. For Redskins fans, though, a look back at the team’s all-decade squad might prove a little startling. It’s not exactly a conga line to Canton, as if fans needed to be reminded how mediocre the franchise has been in the 2000s.
Take, for instance, the quarterback of the decade. He’s the guy Redskins management did everything they could to replace this past offseason.
While people are debating whether Jason Campbell has played well enough of late to warrant a return next year, the reality is that he is probably the best quarterback the Redskins have had this decade.
Mark Brunell had the most outstanding season in 2005 with 23 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions and a quarterback rating of 85.9. But Campbell’s collective play since he joined the Redskins makes him the best behind center in the 2000s - a total of 52 touchdown passes, 10,188 yards passing and a career rating of 82.7.
The best running back of this decade is the one whose career may be over. Clinton Portis, now on injured reserve because of the effects of a concussion, is the best of the 2000s, like it or not, with 6,597 career yards rushing wearing burgundy and gold. A close second is Stephen Davis, who rushed for a little more than 4,000 yards this decade for Washington.
You also have to say the best fullback of the 2000s for the Redskins is also in uniform right now - Mike Sellers, who has held down the job since 2006.
The best wide receiver of this time is on the roster as well - Santana Moss, by far ahead of anyone else with 332 catches over five seasons.
So the quarterback, running back, fullback and wide receiver of the decade are all still active Redskins. Who knew these were the best of times?
You can make the case that the second-best receiver of the 2000s also is currently in uniform - Antwaan Randle El. But how could anyone stomach that choice? So the second wideout is Laveranues Coles, who in two seasons (2003-04) caught 172 passes, just five fewer than Randle El has in four years, and had 2,154 yards receiving, slightly more than Randle El’s yardage numbers.
Tight end is a no brainer. Chris Cooley is an easy choice with 343 catches for 3,789 yards and 30 touchdowns since 2004. Fred Davis, starting in the injured Cooley’s spot, is the tight end of the next decade.
The all-decade offensive line also has some familiar faces - only one, right tackle Jon Jansen, is gone. Casey Rabach has done it long enough to be the center of the decade, and Derrick Dockery is the left guard. Chris Samuels at left tackle and Randy Thomas at right guard - both on injured reserve - round out the list.
It really is remarkable. You have a 4-9 team featuring most of the best players this franchise has fielded over the past 10 years on the team - except for the kicker. Shaun Suisham hit 81 out of 101 field goal attempts for a 80.2 success rate and a total of 329 points from 2006 until he was cut last week.
Derrick Frost is the punter. Why? Because he was here for three seasons from 2005 to 2007. You have a better choice?
One of the Redskins’ all-decade defensive ends is currently having a career year with 11 sacks - Andre Carter, who has a total of 31.5 sacks since arriving in Washington in 2006. The other defensive end has to be Hall of Famer Bruce Smith. Although at the end of his career, Smith managed 29 sacks from 2000 to 2003.
Albert Haynesworth has only played 10 games for the Redskins so far, but since they are paying him $100 million, he had better be on the all-decade team at defensive tackle. Cornelius Griffin, with the Redskins since 2004, has to be next to him because the rest of the list of defensive tackles is as forgettable as it gets.
While London Fletcher may get consistently overlooked for the Pro Bowl, he has secured his place among the Redskins of the decade at middle linebacker, with LaVar Arrington and Marcus Washington at the outside spots.
One safety spot is obvious - the late, great Sean Taylor. The other is not so clear cut. There hasn’t been anyone who has sustained themselves for any length of time at the position over the course of the decade, so I guess LaRon Landry gets it by default. Ryan Clark, for the short time he was here in 2004 and 2005, may be the more deserving choice.
Shawn Springs, when he was healthy, was one of the decade’s two top corners for Washington with 12 interceptions over five seasons. The sorely missed Champ Bailey, the future Hall of Famer, is the other corner with 13 interceptions from 2000 through 2003.
There you have it - the best of the best of this decade for the Washington Redskins. Since so many are still on the roster, an optimist might say this is the best time this century to be a Redskins fan. A pessimist would say that is probably true.
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