The 1996 Redskins: A season of missed opportunity
By Kyle Hundley
This group was led by Gus Frerotte. After beating Shuler out for the starting spot the year prior, Frerotte continued to develop and had the best season of his career in 1996, as he was selected to the Pro Bowl. Frerotte threw for 3,453 yards and 12 touchdowns. Shuler did not attempt a pass during the season.
The Redskins had a very talented group of running backs for Frerotte to hand off to. Terry Allen was the workhorse for Washington. Allen had 1,353 yards and a league-leading 21 rushing touchdowns during a season in which he earned All-Pro honors. While Allen handled the majority of the work, behind him was Redskins great Brian Mitchell. Mitchell had 193 yards on 39 attempts and two touchdowns. Rookie Stephen Davis would see some spot action as well.
The ageless Henry Ellard led the Redskins receivers group. At 35, Ellard had another outstanding season in an underrated career, as he had 1,014 yards on just 52 receptions. Behind Ellard was Michael Westbrook. Westbrook finished with 505 yards on 34 receptions and one touchdown in what was supposed to be a breakout sophomore year. Leslie Shepard also provided depth at the position, as he had 23 receptions for 223 yards and three touchdowns.
Jamie Asher led the team in touchdown catches. The second-year tight end had 42 receptions for 481 yards and four touchdowns. Scott Galbraith also contributed at the position. Galbraith started six games and hauled in two touchdown catches while contributing as a blocker.
Though the famed Hogs were long gone, the 1996 Redskins still had a formidable offensive line. Left guard Tre’ Johnson, the team’s second-round pick in 1994, anchored the interior along with Bob Dahl. Jeff Uhlenhake started 11 games at center, Joe Patton started 15 games at left tackle, and Ed Simmons started a majority of the games on the right side.
The Redskins defensive front was led by big defensive tackle Sean Gilbert. Before the season, the Redskins traded the No. 6 overall pick in the 1996 draft for him, hoping he would provide an immediate impact, which he did. The recently-acquired Gilbert had an excellent season as he started every game and finished with three sacks. Defensive end Rich Owens started every game on the right side alongside Gilbert. Owens, a fifth-round pick out of Lehigh the year prior, had a career year, as he notched 11 sacks while starting every game. Washington’s left side of the line was not as strong as the right side, with a few guys starting games opposite Owens, Tony Woods started seven games at left defensive end. Marc Boutte started ten games at left defensive tackle.
Ken Harvey led this talented group. One of the 80 greatest Redskins, Harvey had one of his finest seasons in 1996, as he made his third straight Pro Bowl. Harvey registered nine sacks, forced two fumbles, and had a fumble recovery while starting all 16 games. Marvcus Patton started at right outside backer and was steady throughout the season, starting every game and tallying over 100 tackles. Rod Stephens, a free agent signing before the season, started 15 games at middle linebacker. Stephens had some nice plays, but was incredibly inconsistent at times.
The Redskins’ secondary was led by the legendary Darrell Green. At 36, one thing Green never seemed to do was age, as the 13-year veteran had another Pro Bowl season, notching three interceptions while starting every game. Tom Carter started opposite Green. Carter had a solid season in 1996, as he led the team with five interceptions. Stanley Richard started 15 games at free safety while a young Darryl Morrison started 12 games at strong safety.
The special teams unit was led by Matt Turk. Turk had his best season as a pro as he earned first team All-Pro honors. Turk punted 75 times for a 45.1 average. Scott Blanton handled the kicking duties and was a modest 26 of 32 on the season while converting all of his PATs.
Brian Mitchell had another outstanding season as a returner in 1996, as he returned 23 punts for 258 yards. He also had 1,258 yards on kick returns, and finished with a league-leading 1,995 all-purpose yards.