- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2020

It’s 2020 and there are hopes and dreams of a new day at Redskins Park. There is a new coach of the franchise — Ron Rivera — who is expected to change the toxic culture of the organization. There is likely a high draft choice — probably Chase Young — that is being touted as a savior to lead the Washington Redskins to an era of success.

It’s 2020, and time again for the Redskins‘ 10-year fantasy draft — the fantasy that created hopes and dreams for a new day at Redskins Park in 2010 and the fantasy that created hopes and dreams for a new day at Redskins Park in 2000.

Those fantasies were just that — fantasies. The reality is that the Redskins are in the same place they were in the decade markers that came and went since the 21st century began — stuck in quicksand.

On Thursday, Rivera will have a chance to make a significant step toward his goal of changing the culture of the Redskins with the second pick of the 2020 NFL draft — unless there is a dramatic change, a trade with another team seeking to move up in the draft in return for multiple draft choices. And unless Rivera stuns everyone by drafting quarterback prospect Tua Tagovailoa, that second transformational pick for Washington is expected to be Young, the Ohio State defensive end phenom.

Former Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan told Team 980 radio that Young is the best defensive end he has scouted in his 28 years as a career evaluator.

A bright future — a new coach and new superstar. What could go wrong?

It was the same bright picture for Redskins fans 10 years ago — a new coach who was going to change the culture and a high draft choice that was considered one of the best at his position.

Mike Shanahan was a two-time Super Bowl winning coach hired by owner Dan Snyder to repair the damage from the past 10 years done by Dan Snyder.

“I think they’re reorganizing things,” said Hall of Fame coach and Redskins legend Joe Gibbs, who had reportedly spoken at length with Shanahan about the job. “I think as a Redskin fan, we’re all hoping that this will be over with, that the Redskins will return to being a real solid contender every year in what I think is one of the toughest divisions,” he said.

Sound familiar?

Shanahan hoped to start this rebuild with the fourth pick in the 2010 draft — highly touted Oklahoma All-American offensive tackle Trent Williams.

“Coach Shanahan called me and he just wanted to know if I was committed to being great, and I assured him that I was, 100 percent,” Williams told reporters.

How has that worked out? Two early playoff exits, a 62-97-1 record and an elite player who now refuses to play for the organization and is a burden the franchise hopes to unload.

Ten years earlier, the Redskins had the kind of draft that teams dream about — selecting Penn State star linebacker LaVar Arrington with the second selection in the 2000 draft and All-American offensive tackle Chris Samuels with the third pick.

Arrington was the best linebacker and Samuels the best offensive tackle in the country.

Picked in the same draft, the two men were the kind of foundation that championship teams are built on. And, coming off a 10-6 record and an NFC East title, that championship seemed within reach.

What happened?

Arrington, though a three-time Pro Bowler, never materialized into the next Lawrence Taylor and wound up battling the owner and injuries, while Samuels, a stand out six-time Pro Bowler, never led to the Redskins to the sort of success that they expected in 2000 — a 70-90 record and two lackluster playoff appearances.

There was no new coach that year, just a new owner. Snyder took over the franchise just before the start of the 1999 season.

“Our goal is simple every year — win the Super Bowl,” he told reporters then.

A simple goal. Every 10 years, Redskins fans are reminded of how complicated it has been under Snyder, with new saviors and new promises of change.

Hear Thom Loverro on the Kevin Sheehan podcast Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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