2009 NFL Draft: The Great Sanchez Debate in Washington

Olav SmithContributor IApril 23, 2009

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 1:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the USC Trojans smiles as he holds the Rose Bowl Trophy after the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on January 1, 2009 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  USC won 38-24.  (Photo by Jeff Golden/Getty Images)

Championships are almost always won by teams with champion quarterbacks.  As long as that is the case, NFL teams will always be in pursuit of the "franchise quarterback."

What is a franchise quarterback?

He's that once-in-a-generation quarterback who takes a team on his back and lifts it to glory. 

In some cases, the team needs someone to step into a situation where winning has become the tradition, and he just needs to keep it going.  That's what happened when Steve Young took over for Joe Montana. 

In some cases, the team needs someone to return the team to the glory of years past.  That's what Peyton Manning and Eli Manning did for their teams recently. 

In some cases, the team needs someone to take them to the promised land for the first time.  Joe Theismann will always be remembered for leading the 'Skins to their first Super Bowl victory.

The Redskins don't need a quarterback.  They have a decent quarterback in Jason Campbell.  Campbell has shown a lot of promise,  and this despite having to learn a new offense over and over again.  

But the question-marks remain. 

Jason Campbell is in the last year of his contract, so do you re-sign Campbell now for big money?  Or do you wait and see how he does this year?

If you wait, then you run the risk that his value will go up.  He may also feel insulted that you didn't sign him sooner, and decide to shop himself around.  Why should he be loyal to you when you weren't loyal to him? 

That has to be running through Campbell's mind.  The Redskins tried to trade for Jay Cutler to compete with Campbell for the starting job.  Rumor has it that the 'Skins even tried to shop Campbell for a second round draft pick. 

Now it appears that the 'Skins are crazy about Mark Sanchez, and are wondering if they should draft him. 

Will he drop to 13th in the draft?  Unlikely.  Can we afford to move up in the draft to get him?  

These are the questions swirling in Washington right now.  

So how do you think Campbell feels about this?  Can there be any doubt that we are inching closer and closer to losing Campbell as soon as his contract is up?  

Is that a good or a bad thing?  No one seems to know.  Campbell is a good quarterback.  Or at least he's a pretty good quarterback. 

Which is it?  Is he an average quarterback who will help you just get by?  Or does he have that something special that will lift you up?  That quality that will make you praise the football gods that you were lucky enough to get him as your very own franchise quarterback? 

It's precisely because we don't know the answer to that question after four years that we are now engaged in the great Sanchez debate of 2009.  

Dan Snyder senses something special in Mark Sanchez.  He has the feel of a champion, and that is exactly what he has been at the college level.  

Is Sanchez the answer to the Redskins' prayers?   No one really knows that either.  He might be the anointed one who leads the Skins to paradise.  Or he might turn out to be a bust.  

We have a dilemma, and the facts can't answer the question for us.

Do we have enough faith in Campbell to let this opportunity go, and use the first pick (and whatever other picks we'd have to give up to get Sanchez) to build around him? 

Lord knows we need a better offensive and defensive line.  Not to mention a receiver to complement Moss.

Or do the 'Skins have to seize this opportunity to be in the running for Sanchez? 

The fact is that Campbell's contract is running out after this coming year.  We have to accept that Campbell may not raise his game up to the next level this year.  We may end this season regretting that we did not try to get Sanchez when we could.

William James (the philosopher and not the corner back), in his "Will to Believe," said that it was at just such moments—when reason can't decide the issue for you—that you have to believe in something on the basis of your passions. 

It sometimes boils down to a gut feeling that you have to go this way rather than that.

That is where the Redskins are right now.  Don't be surprised if their gut feeling tells them that they have to gamble their future on Sanchez.  

They'd better get this gamble right.  Because, either way, the price of getting it wrong could very well be a lost generation of football for Redskins fans.