There was a time when the Redskins were one of the best franchises in all of football, thanks to the legendary coaching of Joe Gibbs. Gibbs was able to win three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, something that has not been done by anybody else. Despite the high turnover at the most important position in sports, the Redskins were able to find that success that you usually only see from franchise quarterbacks.
At the end of the 1991 season, the Redskins added a third Lombardi Trophy behind Mark Rypien and a seemingly unstoppable roster. Since then, the Redskins have only had a handful of playoff appearances and have not gotten past the divisional round of the postseason. Over that time, the Redskins have tried their hand at several franchise quarterbacks, though it hasn’t turned out very well.
Overall, there are 24 quarterbacks that have taken the start for the Redskins since the beginning of the 1992 season. There are a lot of names that will make Redskins fans cringe on this list, bringing up some bad memories. We now look at all 24 of those names, ranking them from worst to best.
24 John Beck
After being a standout at BYU, John Beck was drafted in the second round back in 2007 by the Miami Dolphins. There were hopes that Beck could be a productive starting quarterback in the league, but proved otherwise in his rookie season with no wins in four starts. Beck would not get another chance to start until 2011, which was his second season with the Redskins.
In his two years in Washington, Beck was a starter for three games, losing all of his starts. Beck would also only throw for 858 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions during that time. Beck was let go after 2011 and signed with the Houston Texans where he didn’t make an appearance before ending his career in the CFL in 2015.
23 Heath Shuler
When it comes busts, there aren’t many more memorable in Redskins history than Heath Shuler. Shuler was the third overall pick out of Tennessee in 1994 with hopes that he could return the team to their winning ways from just a few years prior. Instead, Shuler struggled mightily, losing seven of his eight starts in his rookie season.
In three years as a Redskins quarterback, Shuler would finish with a 4-9 record while throwing for 2,403 yards, 13 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Shuler lost his starting job and then his job with the Redskins after the 1996 season. He proved that it wasn’t just a Redskins problem as he started nine games for the Saints in 1997, throwing two touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Shuler was done after 1998, and turned to a life in politics.
22 Tim Hasselbeck
The younger brother of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Tim Hasselbeck was not expected to be a starting quarterback in the NFL after going undrafted in 2001. Hasselbeck started his career with the Bills and Ravens before heading to NFL Europe in 2002. After more time with the Eagles and Panthers back in the United States, Hasselbeck landed with the Redskins in 2003 under coach Steve Spurrier.
Hasselbeck would end up starting five games during his first season with the team, finishing with a 1-4 record. Hasselbeck also had 1,012 yards through the air, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He would not see any playing time during the 2004 season, and joined the Giants for two seasons before finishing with the Cardinals in 2007 and then turning to broadcasting.
21 Danny Wuerffel
Another one of those quarterbacks that was brought in by Steve Spurrier that pretty much no other team really wanted. Wuerffel had been a Heisman Trophy winner at Florida under Spurrier, and became a fourth round pick in 1997 by the Saints. Wuerffel spent three seasons in New Orleans before bouncing around in the U.S. and Europe for a couple of years. In 2002, the Redskins brought him in.
Wuerffel would make seven appearances in his lone season with four starts, splitting the win-loss record at 2-2. Wuerffel threw for 719 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions on top of it, showing that the ‘Gatorskins’ experiment was going to be a mess. After 2002, Wuerffel wouldn’t play another snap in the NFL, though he will always be remembered for his Hall of Fame college career.
20 Rich Gannon
Rich Gannon is one of a seemingly endless amount of players that has found success after leaving the Redskins. Having spent the first six seasons of his career with Minnesota, Gannon took his 19-16 overall record to Washington for the 1993 season. Gannon would only make four starts as a Redskin, throwing for 704 yards, three touchdowns and seven interceptions with a 1-3 record.
Gannon then departed for Kansas City where he would find moderate success. Where he found his best years were in Oakland when Gannon won the 2002 NFL MVP Award en route to an AFC Championship. Gannon finished 45-29 in Oakland, and he was certainly one of the latest bloomers in NFL history. Unfortunately for the Redskins, it came way too late.
19 Jeff Hostetler
Drafted back in 1984 by the Giants, former West Virginia quarterback Jeff Hostetler experienced some success in his career, winning a pair of Super Bowl titles in New York. Hostetler would join the Raiders in 1993, where he played for four seasons and was even named to the Pro Bowl in 1994. In the twilight of his career, he would be brought into Washington for the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
Hostetler would only see playing time during that first year as a backup, though he ended up making three starts with a 2-1 record. Hostetler threw for 899 yards, five touchdowns and 10 interceptions while with the Redskins, proving that his best days were behind him. After the 1998 season, Hostetler retired with a career record of 51-32.
18 Jeff George
So what exactly did Brad Johnson do wrong in the 1999 season that made the Redskins pursue Jeff George? That’s a good question. George was the former number one overall pick by the Colts that ended up being a bust with a 14-35 record. George would then head to Atlanta before signing with the Raiders and eventually the Vikings. It seemed like he had a bit of a resurgence and signed with the Redskins before the 2000 season.
George spent two seasons in Washington and struggled mightily, drawing in the anger of the fans. George finished with a 1-6 starting record with 1,557 yards, seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. Though he would remain in the NFL for a couple of more seasons, George never played a snap for another team after his Redskins career.
17 Cary Conklin
Cary Conklin actually started his Redskins career before 1992 after being drafted out of Washington in the fourth round of the 1990 NFL Draft. Conklin was only meant to serve as a backup, and actually didn’t see his first playing time until 1992. Conklin lasted through the 1993 season and made two starts. Unfortunately, both of those starts in 1993 would be losses.
All in all, Conklin threw for 512 yards as a Redskins with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Conklin actually wasn’t on an NFL roster during the 1994 season, though he did sign with the 49ers in 1995 where he would make limited appearances. That would be his final season in the NFL, however. Conklin is certainly one of those quarterbacks that Redskins fans don’t remember that much, especially the very young ones.
16 John Friesz
The pride of Idaho, John Friesz did not get drafted until the sixth round of the 1990 NFL Draft. Friesz started out his career with the Chargers, spending three seasons that included one as a full-time starter. Friesz finished his Chargers career with a 6-17 record before heading to Washington for the 1994 season. Friesz would make four starts with plenty of appearances, finishing with a 1-3 record.
Friesz added 1,268 yards with 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions during the 1994 season. After that one season, Friesz joined the Seahawks for four seasons and ended as a Patriot for the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Overall, Friesz threw for 8,699 yards with 45 touchdowns and 42 interceptions. Strangely enough, he was drafted in the same draft that had Jeff George go first overall.
15 Donovan McNabb
After years of tormenting the Redskins as the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, Redskins fans were excited to hear about the trade that brought McNabb to Washington. McNabb also signed a big extension and it seemed like he would finish his career as a Redskin. However, he struggled in 2010, making 13 starts with a 5-8 record. It was so bad, in fact, that McNabb was benched in favor of Rex Grossman.
McNabb finished his Redskins career with 3,377 yards, 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The fallout with coach Mike Shanahan essentially led to McNabb being traded for the 2011 season to the Vikings. To say that all Redskins fans were disappointed with the Donovan McNabb era in Washington would be a huge understatement.
14 Shane Matthews
You had to have guessed we weren’t done with the Gatorskins just yet as Steve Spurrier was able to bring another former University of Florida player to Washington during his era. This time, it was former undrafted quarterback Shane Matthews. Matthews started with the Bears for several seasons as a backup before leaving to Carolina and coming back.
Matthews would end up with an 8-7 record while in Chicago before the Redskins brought him in for the 2002 season. Matthews started seven games that season with a 3-4 record, throwing for 1,251 yards, 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. It wasn’t a complete disaster for Matthews, but there was nothing there that proved the 32 year old quarterback would be the franchise quarterback for the future.
13 Colt McCoy
Colt McCoy was a fantastic college quarterback at Texas that won just about every quarterback-specific award with the Longhorns. McCoy was a third round pick in 2010 by the Browns, and he spent three seasons in Cleveland. McCoy struggled with a 6-15 record before spending one year in San Francisco. Then, McCoy signed as a Redskins backup in 2014 and has been with the team ever since.
McCoy hasn’t gotten all that much playing time, but has made four starts. Though he has lost three of those starts, the win was a memorable one that came on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys. McCoy has 1,185 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions so far as a Redskin, and looks to be the backup once again in 2017.
12 Rex Grossman
While the Redskins have struggled with quarterbacks for a long time, the same could be said for the Chicago Bears. The Bears drafted Grossman in the first round out of Florida (yes, them again) back in 2003. Grossman spent plenty of time both as a backup and a starter during his time as a Bear before becoming a Texan for 2009. Finally, Grossman became a Redskin for the 2010 season and stuck around through 2013.
Grossman made a total of 16 starts with a 6-10 record, throwing for 4,035 yards, 23 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. It was thought that he wouldn’t even start since Donovan McNabb was now in town, but Grossman ended up taking the starting job. His final season with the Redskins came in 2013 as a backup to Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.
11 Tony Banks
Tony Banks started his NFL career as a second round pick from Michigan State in 1996, but turned into a journeyman quarterback. Banks started with the Rams for three seasons, amassing a 14-29 record. Banks then signed with the Ravens for the 1999 and 2000 seasons before joining the Redskins in 2001. It would be the only season in Washington for Banks as he actually ended up starting 14 games.
Banks had some decent success with an 8-6 record, throwing for 2,386 yards with 10 touchdowns and interceptions each. Banks also added 152 yards on the ground that season with two touchdowns. The next year, Banks joined Houston as a backup and finished his career with the team in 2005, though he didn’t start much as a Texan.
10 Todd Collins
Todd Collins had been in the league for a long time before he ended up with Washington, starting his career as a second round pick in 1995. The Bills hosted Collins for three seasons where he made 17 starts. Collins then signed with Kansas City in 1998, and he would stay with the Chiefs through the 2005 season. Collins then signed to continue to his career as a backup with Washington in 2006.
In 2007, Jason Campbell was injured late in the season and Collins was able to step in, coming up huge with a 3-0 record to help the Redskins make the playoffs. During his time, Collins threw for 888 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Unfortunately he couldn’t guide the Redskins through Seattle in the playoffs, but being able to get them there was quite the accomplishment.
9 Mark Rypien
If we were able to include pre-1992 statistics into the equation, Mark Rypien would certainly be in the top five. Rypien joined the Redskins out of Washington State in 1988 and started 30 games over three seasons. In 1991, Rypien led one of the best NFL teams ever as the Redskins finished the regular season at 14-2 and had a cakewalk to the Super Bowl XXVI title.
Rypien’s play would not be as consistent following the 1991 season as he played two more seasons in Washington with a 12-14 record. The numbers also dropped as he threw for 4,796 yards, 17 touchdowns and 27 interceptions in those two seasons. Rypien then bounced around the league before ending as Peyton Manning’s backup in Indianapolis in 2001.
8 Patrick Ramsey
A lot of Redskins fans will contend that Patrick Ramsey never got his fair shake while in Washington. Ramsey was the final pick of 2002’s first round out of Tulane, though he would always have a short leash as a starter. Ramsey spent his first four seasons in Washington and had to sift through Steve Spurrier preferring Florida quarterbacks and then Joe Gibbs preferring the veteran Mark Brunell.
All in all, Ramsey made 24 starts as a Redskin, winning 10 of those games. The numbers weren’t too bad, even, as Ramsey threw for 5,649 yards with 34 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. The former first rounder then became a journeyman quarterback, signing with eight different teams over the next five years before calling it quits after the 2010 season.
7 Trent Green
Not man younger fans actually remember that Trent Green was a Redskin, but that would be the case in the mid 1990’s. Green was drafted out of Indiana in 1993 by San Diego, but then went to the CFL the next season. The Redskins brought him back in 1995 as a backup. He would not see much playing time at all until 1998 when Green came in for an injured Gus Frerotte.
Green came up big despite not seeing a lot of wins, with a 6-8 record. Green threw for 3,441 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions that season. Green would then join the Rams for the 1999 season before getting injured to lead the way for Kurt Warner’s career. Green would emerge with the Chiefs, however, and had a decent NFL career with nearly 30,000 yards.
6 Gus Frerotte
After a struggling rookie season for Heath Shuler in 1993, the Redskins used their seventh round pick in 1994 to take Gus Frerotte out of Tulsa. Frerotte would not only end up taking the starting job from Shuler, but he stuck around as the starter for several seasons. Frerotte stayed through the 1998 season, posing a record of 19-26-1, with that one tie being the memorable headbutt game.
Frerotte tossed for 9,769 yards with 48 touchdowns and 44 interceptions, which were pretty good numbers for the 1990’s. The Lions brought Frerotte in for the 1999 season, and he would eventually make his way to several different teams before retiring after the 2008 season as a Minnesota Viking. He is one of the very few Redskins quarterbacks to make a Pro Bowl appearance since Super Bowl XXVI, being named to the squad in 1996.
5 Mark Brunell
If we took entire careers into consideration instead of just time with the Redskins, Mark Brunell would be right up there with Rich Gannon and Trent Green toward the top. Brunell spent a bulk of his career with the Jaguars where he was named to three Pro Bowls, throwing for 25,698 yards, 144 touchdowns and 86 interceptions. Brunell was then brought in for the 2004 season to Washington when Joe Gibbs returned as coach.
Brunell spent three seasons with the Redskins, finishing with a 15-18 record with 6,033 yards, 38 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Only one Redskins quarterback has won a playoff game since Mark Rypien in 1992, and that came in 2005 when Brunell was behind center against the Buccaneers. Though he struggled mightily in that game, the Redskins would pick up a rare playoff win.
4 Brad Johnson
Florida State prospect Brad Johnson was drafted late in the 1992 NFL Draft by Minnesota, where he would remain through the 1998 season. Though he served as a backup for the early part of his career, he would end up making 23 starts in his final three seasons. The Redskins then brought him in to be a starter for the 1999 season, where he was solid with a 10-6 record and more than 4,000 yards en route to a Pro Bowl appearance.
Johnson’s final season in Washington came the next year when he split time with Jeff George, and he posted a winning record again at 7-4. Overall, Johnson finished 17-10 as a Redskin with 6,510 yards, 35 touchdowns and 28 interceptions. Johnson then joined Tampa Bay the next year and was able to win a Super Bowl title in 2002.
3 Jason Campbell
The Redskins career of Jason Campbell was very similar to that of Patrick Ramsey, though it was clear he had more physical talent. Campbell was the 25th overall pick in 2005 while Joe Gibbs was head coach, and the Redskins waited until the next year to plug him in full-time as a starter. Campbell spent four seasons with Washington where he finished with a 20-32 record.
The Redskins decided to go in a different direction after the 2009 season, but not until Campbell already posted more than 10,800 yards with 55 touchdowns and 38 interceptions in Washington. Injuries and inconsistency would end up defining Campbell’s career as he then joined the Raiders, Bears, Browns and Bengals before ending his career after the 2014 season.
2 Robert Griffin III
One of the ultimate “what might have been” stories in recent NFL memory, the Redskins gave up several high draft picks for the chance to draft Robert Griffin III out of Baylor in 2012. Griffin was the former Heisman winner that became the starter right away, winning the Rookie of the Year award while leading the Redskins to the NFC East title. Griffin had a masterful season with 3,200 passing yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding 815 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
Griffin was injured in the playoffs against Seattle that season, and his career would never be the same. He would spend three more seasons in Washington, finishing with a total of 8,097 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and 23 interceptions as a Redskin with 1,480 rushing yards. Griffin then signed with the Browns for the 2016 season that would again become an injury plagued one.
1 Kirk Cousins
After reading all of the names on this list, you really have to wonder why the Redskins haven’t given Kirk Cousins a long term contract. Cousins was a fourth round pick in the same draft as Robert Griffin III, and he would end up getting opportunities thanks to injuries and poor play by Griffin. Cousins has since become a starter with some great production, finishing 17-14-1 over his last two seasons that includes an NFC East title.
Cousins has a total of 12,113 passing yards over his first five seasons with the Redskins with 72 touchdowns and 42 interceptions with 200 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Will we see Cousins sign an extension with the Redskins this offseason? Or will they try to add another name to this seemingly endless list. Just for comparison's sake, the Packers have started six quarterbacks in the same timeframe that we are using for the Redskins.
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