Monday, April 13, 2020

The Franchise 9: Washington Redskins

Hail to the Redskins! One of the oldest franchises in history, the Redskins have had plenty of success over the years. Much of their winning happened before the scope of this project, but they have also won a trio of Super Bowls. Since the early 90s, however, winning seasons have been hard to come by. Not surprisingly, only one of these players played more than one season in Washington past their last Super Bowl appearance. The team just hasn't seemed to be able to find a franchise-changing player for quite a while. There are relatively few solid "star power" guys in the team's history.  In fact, I am more likely to think first of coaches or owners in connection with this franchise than players.  I think this is because of the team's identity as a team.  Washington's heroes are the unsung heroes.  We're talking here about original "Hogs" on the line of scrimmage. I know there are a couple of Redskins fans out there who know their franchise better than I do, so I'm sure they'll be able to tell me all the mistakes I have made. I will say that it was tempting just to put the entire original "Hogs" unit here and call it good.

1. Sonny Jurgensen, QB (2008 Leaf Limited Team Trademarks)

Aside from the inimitable Sammy Baugh, who is ineligible for this exercise, Sonny Jurgensen was the most prolific and efficient quarterback in franchise history. He ranks second in team history in passing yards, second in touchdowns, and second in QB rating among quarterbacks who played at least three seasons. No one quarterback is ahead of him in multiple categories.

2. Joe Theismann, QB (2015 Gridiron Kings All-Time Stat Kings)

Theismann is one of those who leads Jurgensen; he is the team's all-time leader in passing yardage. He was also under center for the team's first Super Bowl championship. He ranks 7th in career Approximate Value, per Pro Football Reference.

3. John Riggins, RB (2014 Topps Valor)

Believe it or not, Hall of Famer and Super Bowl MVP John Riggins was a tough inclusion here. He almost didn't make it.   The analytic stat of AV has Riggins pretty low on the list, and when you break it down into AV per game, as I do to see who the most impactful players were, Riggins appears to be an accumulator. However, the running back who might have been here otherwise was Larry Brown. When I dug I little deeper into the statistics, I found that Riggins had more yards and more touchdowns per game than Brown, so I'm not sure why Brown was given the higher share of the team's wins. Riggins is a legend, and I'm sure Redskins faithful would want no one else here.

4. Art Monk, WR (2008 Topps Chrome Hall of Fame)

There may be no more underrated wide receiver in history than Art Monk. Ponder this: when Monk left Washington after 14 seasons there, he was the all-time leading receiver in league history. Yet he made only 3 Pro Bowls and 1 All-Pro team. Despite being one of the tops in the game, all it took for him to become an All-Pro was to become just the 3rd receiver ever to catch 100 passes in a season, setting the single-season mark with 106 in 1986. His 888 receptions for 12,026 yards still lead the team, and he ranks 2nd with 65 TDs.

5. Charley Taylor, WR (2011 Panini Limited)

Before Art Monk, there was Charley Taylor. Taylor spent his full 14-year career in Washington. Though he retired in 1977, only Monk has been able to surpass his receptions and yardage mark for the team, and not even Monk passed him in touchdowns, as Taylor's 79 is still tops in team history. While he was breaking records for the Redskins, he was also representing the team in 8 Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team.

6. Russ Grimm, G (1987 Topps)

The only Hog in the Hall of Fame, Russ Grimm was the heart of arguably the best offensive line unit in history. The Hogs paved the way to 3 Super Bowl titles for the team. As a firm believer that games are won and lost in the trenches, I have a great respect for these guys. Grimm was a 4-time Pro Bowler and 3-time-All-Pro and was named to the All-Decade Team for the 1980s.

7. Joe Jacoby, T (1992 Collector's Edge)

Joe Jacoby isn't in the Hall of Fame, but he did join his linemate Grimm on the 1980s All-Decade Team. From 1983-1986, Jacoby made 4 Pro Bowls and had back-to-back All-Pro seasons in that span. Injuries started to take their toll later in his career, but through his age-29 season, Pro Football Reference names notables figures such as Willie Roaf, Joe DeLamellieure, and Walter Jones as having the most comparable career to Jacoby. In his prime, Jacoby was one of the best there was.

8. Chris Hanburger, LB (1969 Topps)

There aren't too many stats available for Chris Hanburger's career, but just consider these: in the 11 year stretch from 1966-1975, Hanburger made 9 Pro Bowls and 4 All-Pro teams. Somehow, it took until 2011 to enshrine him in Canton, but he deservedly made it there.

9. Darrell Green, CB (1991 Score)

For a few years, Darrell Green held the title of "Fastest Man in the NFL." That's probably how I will always remember him best. Not only did he spend his entire career in Washington, that career lasted two full decades. Over that time, Green became the franchise leader in AV, interceptions (54), and defensive touchdowns (8--6 interception, 2 fumble). The 7-time Pro Bowler was named to the All-Decade Team for the 1990s and elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008, his first year on the ballot. Aside from Sammy Baugh, Darrell Green is probably Mr. Redskin to many fans.

As apparent in this group of players, the Redskins have had more success as an offensive team than a defensive team.  Today's standards would say that offensive prowess equals fireworks, but that's not the case for this team, which had its heyday by plowing over opponents with heavy equipment in the 80s.  The result an offense-heavy team without the superstars that everybody would recognize as great playmakers.  These guys are hardhat and lunchbox guys.  And that is the takeaway I have of the franchise's identity as a whole.

Some notes on this series:

  1. This includes Super Bowl Era players only.
  2. The "nine" in Franchise 9 is to fill a page in a binder. There is no intent to fill a roster or even a starting lineup.
  3.  A player can represent multiple teams.
  4. I tried to find a balance between steady producers with longevity and explosive players with shorter careers. Time with the team does count for something, as does impact with the team.
  5. For a link to Franchise 9 lists that I have already posted, click here.
  6. This is all subjective, so I'd love to hear whom you would choose!


  1. Riggins, Monk, and Theismann were the first three players (in that order) I thought of when I saw the title of this post. Glad to see Darrell Green made the cut.

  2. Darrell was one of my favorite non-Eagles in that era.

  3. As a 'Skins fan, no arguments here. El Riggo gets pushed over the top for the 4th and 1 run in Super Bowl XVII along with just being "El Riggo".

  4. Yep, as a fan since the early 70's, you pretty much hit it right. Nobody since the turn of the century has come close. You might speculate that Sean Taylor may have been that type of player, but of course, we didn't get to find out. Alex Smith may have brought us out of the basement too, but he barely survived too. This is our lot. Hopefully Riverboat Ron can finally turn things around.

  5. You probably would've caught hell had you left out Riggins, although it might've been a good way to generate some blog traffic...

  6. Good to see some Hogs on the list. Would like to see Ken Houston or Sean Taylor over Hanburger though.