- The Washington Times - Monday, December 28, 2020

Since owner Dan Snyder took over the franchise in 1999, Washington has had 23 different starting quarterbacks.

Here’s a look back at how injuries, incompetence, mismanagement and just plain bad luck have plagued the team at the game’s most important position:

⦁ Brad Johnson: Let’s make no mistake: Brad Johnson didn’t arrive in Washington with the highest of hopes. He had started just 23 games for Minnesota over the previous five seasons. But Johnson earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 1999 with Washington, passing for 4,005 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Then Johnson plummeted back to earth, throwing 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2000. Johnson left that offseason to join Tampa Bay. Johnson had the last laugh, proving to be a stable quarterback for the Buccaneers, throwing for more than 3,000 yards each of the next three years.

Jeff George: After Johnson, Jeff George was the de facto starter despite a history of ruffling feathers on almost every team for which he played. George lasted two games into the 2001 season, butting heads with coach Marty Schottenheimer and his West Coast offense. He was released after an abysmal 37-0 loss to Green Bay.

Patrick Ramsey: History repeats itself: Snyder pushed for the quarterback he wanted, but not necessarily the one that the coaching staff desired. Before Haskins, there was Ramsey, taken with the 32nd pick in 2002. Coach Steve Spurrier had little choice but to use Ramsey, but he did little to stand out.

Ramsey wound up being shipped to the New York Jets for a sixth-round pick in 2006 after starting 24 games in four seasons.

Mark Brunell: The Brunell era wasn’t always pretty. He was surpassed momentarily by Ramsey in 2004, and he began the next season as the backup.

But Brunell’s 2005 campaign — replacing the injured Ramsey and leading Washington to a 10-6 record — is memorable, particularly his two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to Santana Moss to pull off the comeback win over Dallas.

But like many other Washington quarterbacks, his time with the team came to an inauspicious ending, as he was benched for Jason Campbell.

Jason Campbell: With the 25th overall pick in 2005, Washington seemed to have found an answer at quarterback. His first two seasons playing were uneven, but then Campbell led the team to a 6-2 start to the 2008 season. But Washington lost six of the final eight to miss the playoffs. After a 4-12 2009 season, Campbell’s time in Washington was done, another first-round quarterback washout.

Donovan McNabb: For the better part of a decade, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb had his way with Washington. Coming off a Pro Bowl year, the 33-year-old gunslinger was traded to Washington in 2010. Midway through a mediocre first season, McNabb signed a five-year, $78 million contract with Washington. By December, McNabb had been demoted to third string and Rex Grossman was starting. The team shed McNabb that offseason, trading him to the Vikings.

Robert Griffin III: With the second pick in 2012, Washington started over at with Griffin. In a magical rookie season, he seemed like the real deal, leading Washington to the playoffs and throwing 20 touchdowns to five interceptions.

But Griffin also suffered numerous injuries and he played in the wild card game against the Seattle Seahawks despite suffering an LCL sprain a month earlier. He tore his ACL, LCL and meniscus in that loss to Seattle, and he never reached those heights again before being released in 2016.

Kirk Cousins: Cousins, taken in the fourth round of the same draft that brought Griffin to Washington, waited his turn behind the Heisman Trophy winner before eventually taking over on a full-time basis in 2015. He made the Pro Bowl in 2016. He once yelled, “You like that!?” and most Washington fans could say, “Yes, indeed.” He wasn’t always perfect, but Cousins was steady.

There’s something to be said for that, especially for a franchise with as much quarterback turnover as Washington. But the team couldn’t hash out a new deal with Cousins, and he left for Minnesota.

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