The Washington Redskins fanbase is one that seems to operate entirely in hindsight.
"If Dan Snyder hadn't bought the football team, we'd all be better off right now! If we had just kept Marty Schottenheimer we'd have a Super Bowl right now! If we had just kept Champ Bailey, our defense wouldn't be so bad!"
The latest in the long line of Redskins Nation ifs?
As a wise man named Jim Ross once said, "If wishes were fishes, the world would be an ocean".
The "ifs" are becoming too much for one to bear. They are a deep seated, deep rooted problem in a fan base that seems to only be able to look backwards and never forward, choosing to constantly dwell on the failing of the past instead of the potential of the future. They don't operate in a world of now. Instead, they are consumed with the overwhelming desire to look back and grumble and complain, choosing to look at the present through jaded eyes, muttering to themselves about what could have been.
In 2005, there were three first-round worthy quarterbacks: University of Utah's Alex Smith, Auburn University's Jason Campbell and Aaron Rodgers from the University of California at Berkeley.
The Redskins actually managed to swing two first-round picks in the draft. It was a lock that the Redskins would finally draft a franchise quarterback to replace the aging stop-gap quarterback Mark Brunell.
In the first round, with the first pick overall, the 49ers took quarterback Alex Smith. With the ninth pick overall, the Redskins selected a corner who flirted with the title of "shut down"--Auburn's Carlos Rogers.
With the 23rd pick of the NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers chose Cal's Aaron Rodgers. With the pick after that, the Redskins selected Jason Campbell.
And ever since Aaron Rodgers became a starter in 2008, fans have been complaining that the Redskins made a bad decision, that if they had just drafted Aaron Rodgers instead of the "bust" Jason Campbell, the whole football team would've been better off.
And I am tired of it.
Can we, as a fan base, get over it?
I know. It hurts watching the Packers in the Super Bowl with a quarterback we could've drafted. But honestly, so what? There's no use crying over spilled milk, is there?
When a coach has his mind made up on a quarterback, he's going to pick that quarterback regardless. Love it or hate it, the Redskins wanted Jason Campbell. There was no shot of Aaron Rodgers being a Redskins player. Joe Gibbs is almost as notorious for his love of big armed quarterbacks as current Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is.
Campbell was going to be the guy, and though he has been so derided over his years in Washington (and now even more so, as bitter fans gripe that Rodgers is the one who got away like he's an old high school crush), Campbell did have success in Washington.
What he didn't have was an organization willing to build a football team around him.
The Redskins offensive line had long since gone to crap by the time Campbell was ready to become a full-time starter. The only weapons he had were a solid run game, fueled by Clinton Portis, wide receiver Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley. That was it, all Campbell had when he became a starter.
In 2008, the organization once again forsake the offensive line in the draft, and drafted Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly. Thomas was nothing short of a huge bust and flame out, and Kelly is chronically and almost comically injured.
The failures of a football team and organization were put firmly on the shoulders of the quiet Campbell, a guy some felt was too quiet and who some felt blamed the team's failings on other people rather than on himself.
Only problem? He was right.
The Redskins 4-12 season had less to do with Campbell failing as a quarterback (he put up his best statistical season) and more to do with losing two of his three reliable weapons (Fred Davis stepped up admirably, but could hardly do it by himself) and getting creamed almost every time he took a snap from center.
Allow me to suggest this to you. Had Aaron Rodgers been drafted by the Washington Redskins with the ninth pick overall in the 2005 draft, he would be playing and succeeding for another football team.
The Redskins have been horrible at developing quarterback's for decades. Think about it. Who was the last great Redskins quarterback that the Redskins brought in and developed by themselves?
That would be "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh.
Baugh was the first great Redskins quarterback and the only great Redskins quarterback to be developed by the team from within.
Sonny Jurgenson was bought in from the Philadelphia Eagles. Joe Theismann played for the CFL before coming to Washington. Doug Williams came to the team after playing for the Bucs.
Perhaps you could count Mark Rypien, but he only had a few solid years before flaming out.
Just the law of averages didn't work in his favor, but that was during the Jack Kent Cooke days. In the Dan Snyder era, there were so many flame outs at the quarterback position, one is surprised you can't still see the smoking, smoldering ashes of a bunch of quarterback's careers in a corner at FedEx Field.
Vinny Cerrato, Dan Snyder and even Gibbs were so out of touch with what it took to truly build a team around a guy.
That's what the Packers did. That's what the Packers would've down with Jason Campbell if they had drafted him. Built a football team around a young quarterback, mentored him, allowed him to sit and learn under a Hall of Famer, allowed him to develop at his own pace.
This insanity that somehow, if the Redskins had drafted Aaron Rodgers, all their prayers would've been answered, is systematic of a problem the Redskins have had for years.
That problem is the thought and the belief that if it were just for this one player, we would be winning.
This is the very same thinking that fans of this football team condemn Dan Snyder for.
Football is the ultimate team sport. It truly takes, at the very least, 45 men (if not all 52) on an NFL roster to become a success. The Redskins of the recent years have barely fielded a team that would be fit to compete with the 1-9 Watkins Mill Wolverines from my senior year in high school.
I understand the frustration. It is tough to see players we could've drafted or could've signed or did sign but let get away go to other teams and have success. To put it simply, it sucks.
But what condemns this team more than the signing of free agents, or the drafting a busts, is the universal idea that "if we just got this one player..."
No. You are wrong. Aaron Rodgers is an amazing young player who seems to make plays out of thin air sometimes, but he'd be just as big a "bust" for the 'Skins as Campbell supposedly was. They still wouldn't have put any time into building the offensive line. The weapons put around him would still be crap. The coaching staff and the front office and the mentality of the Redskins simply would not have allowed Rodgers to develop into the guy he is now.
At least not until he was run out of town by a fan base that was screaming, "BUST, draft a new guy!" at him and put on a football team that actually took the time to develop him.
Enough is enough. We can not sit here and dwell on the past. Enough with this "we shoulda drafted Rodgers" stuff.
We didn't. Get over it.
It is time to move on, ladies and gents. Looking towards the future.
If you are constantly looking backwards at what once was, you can never look forward at what can be. The Redskins can be great again, but only with patience and proper building of the next guy.
Or else we'll find ourselves back here in five years, talking about who we should drafted.
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