The 2000 Redskins: The first super team that wasn’t
By Kyle Hundley
Redskins 2000 roster
Quarterbacks: Brad Johnson started 11 games at quarterback. He did not play anywhere close to the Pro Bowl level he played at in 1999 when he threw for over 4,000 yards and 24 touchdowns. While injuries played a factor, the drop off in production was one of the reasons the Redskins regressed. Johnson threw for 2,505 yards and 11 touchdowns, but threw 15 interceptions as well. The recently acquired Jeff George started the other five games and threw for 1,389 yards, seven touchdowns, and six interceptions.
Running Backs: Stephen Davis had another outstanding season in 2000 as he earned his second straight trip to the Pro Bowl. Davis ran for 1,318 yards on 332 carries and logged 11 touchdowns. Behind Davis, Skip Hicks had 29 carries for 78 yards. The other big offensive free agent, Adrian Murrell, had 20 carries for 50 yards. Larry Centers, who was the fullback, had 19 carries for 103 yards. He led the team in receptions with 81.
Wide Receivers: James Thrash led the receivers group. Thrash had a modest 50 catches for 653 yards and two touchdowns. Irving Fryar, the first overall pick in 1984, had 41 catches for 548 yards and five touchdowns. Albert Connell was the third receiver. Connell had 39 catches for 762 yards and three touchdowns. After injuries hampered him early in his career, Michael Westbrook had a Pro Bowl season in 1999. He figured to be a big part of the offense again in 2000. However, a knee injury ended his season after just two games and nine catches.
Tight Ends: Pro Bowler Stephen Alexander led the tight ends. In his third season, Alexander had 47 catches for 510 yards and two touchdowns. James Jenkins and Zeron Flemister were behind Alexander, but Jenkins didn’t catch a pass and Flemister had only one reception for eight yards on the season.
Offensive Line: After drafting Jon Jansen the year prior, and Samuels that year, the Redskins now had two of the best young tackles in the game. They both started all 16 games and provided excellent play. Keith Sims started 13 games at left guard with Andy Heck and Michael Moore starting the other three. Jay Leeuwenburg was the starter for 12 games at right guard with Tre’ Johnson starting the other four games. Mark Fisher started all 16 games at center. The group struggled at times as they dealt with injuries, but flourished at others as Stephen Davis had five 100-yard games running behind them.
Defensive Line: The Redskins defensive line was led by one of Cerrato’s big free agent signings, Bruce Smith, who was chasing the all-time sack record. Smith started every game at right defensive end and finished with 10.0 sacks, but was somewhat of a liability against the run. Marco Coleman was on the opposite side of Smith and had the best season of his career as he made the Pro Bowl for the only time as a pro. Coleman finished with 12.0 sacks while starting all 16 games. N.D. Kalu and Kenard Lang provided depth at the defensive end position. Dan Wilkinson and Dana Stubblefield were the defensive tackles. Wilkinson started all 16 games and had 3.5 sacks while Stubblefield had 14 starts and 2.5 sacks. Nolan Harrison filled in for Stubblefield twice.
Linebackers: There was no question who led this group. After being selected second overall, LaVar Arrington was brought in to be the playmaker in the middle of the field the team had been lacking since Ken Harvey left, and to help lead the current group. He had an up-and-down season, but finished with 52 tackles and 4.0 sacks as he showed superstar potential. Derek Smith and Shawn Barber each started 14 games. Kevin Mitchell, Eddie Mason, and Greg Jones filled in during spot duty and helped round out this group.
Cornerbacks: This was an incredibly talented group that was led by the marquee signing of the offseason, Deion Sanders. Sanders had signed a seven-year, $56 million contract after being released by the Cowboys, and was still expected to be a shutdown corner as he was getting paid to be elite. While he had an average season, notching four interceptions, his play did not match his salary, and he abruptly retired after the season. Champ Bailey started every game beside Sanders and had an outstanding second year as he made the Pro Bowl. Bailey played some offense too. He had a rushing touchdown and three receptions for 78 yards; a playmaker on both sides of the ball. Behind them was the ageless Darrell Green. While he was no longer a starter, Green still had three interceptions and was a solid contributor when on the field. Tyronne Drakeford started one game, and the recently drafted Lloyd Harrison did not play.
Fun fact: Green, Sanders, and Bailey each had over 50 career interceptions and, with Bailey making it in 2019, they are all in the Hall of Fame as well. Talk about talent.
Safety: Sam Shade was the strong safety. Shade started 14 games and had two interceptions. Mark Carrier, who never played close to the Pro Bowl level he played at early in his career, had 15 starts and just one interception. After only one season in Washington, Carrier retired. Behind Shade and Carrier, Matt Stevens and David Terrell provided depth.
Special Teams: The Redskins had a revolving door when it came to kickers in 2000. Four kickers handled duties at some point: Eddie Murray, Michael Husted, Kris Heppner, and Brett Conway; plus Scott Bentley kicked a 50-yard field goal on his only attempt in the finale as well. Murray played in six games and was 8 for 12, Husted played in four games and was 4 for 8, Heppner played in four games and was 4 for 6, and Conway played in just two games, but was a perfect 3 for 3. Combined, however, that group was a pedestrian 20 for 30 on the season.
Tommy Barnhardt handled the punting duties. Barnhardt had 79 punts for 3,160 yards, good enough for a 40-yard average.
With the great Brian Mitchell gone to Philadelphia, James Thrash handled the majority of the kickoff returns alongside Adrian Murrell. Thrash had 45 returns for 1,000 yards, while Murrell had 12 returns for 214 yards. Deion Sanders handled the majority of the punt returns with Thrash getting some return opportunities here as well. On the season, Sanders had 185 return yards on 25 attempts, while Thrash had 106 yards on ten attempts.