Mark Brunell (2004-2007)
Brunell was already in his mid-30s when Joe Gibbs brought him in to provide some veteran leadership. He was no longer a feared runner, and his big-play capabilities were mostly a thing of the past. He was essentially a steady game manager by this point in his career. Still his two bombs to Santana Moss late in a Monday night contest against Dallas in 2005 rank as one of the great moments in recent Washington Football Team history.
Jason Campbell (2005-2009)
Campbell never lived up to his first-round draft status, and he was much maligned for it. But he completed over 60% of his passes for the Washington Football Team and threw for over 10,000 yards – one of only two quarterbacks in franchise history about whom you can say that.
Trent Green (1995-1998)
Ah, what might have been. Green only started 14 games in his Washington Football Team career and his numbers, despite an impressive touchdown/interception ratio, were mundane. But you could see the talent there in this eighth-round draft pick from Indiana.
He may have stayed in DC had the ownership issues in the wake of Jack Kent Cooke’s death been more stable. As it was, he went to St. Louis where he thrived in the Rams’ exciting pre-season offense until an injury took away his starting job and opened up the Hall of Fame doors to his replacement, Kurt Warner. He would eventually make two Pro Bowls as quarterback for Kansas City.
Gus Frerotte (1994-1998)
Frerotte was the ultimate journeyman, eventually playing for seven different NFL teams. His time with the Washington Football Team was unspectacular, but he put an end to the Heath Shuler fiasco, he made a Pro Bowl, and he is responsible for one of the most infamous touchdowns in team history – knocking himself out of a game after scoring a touchdown against the Giants by headbutting a wall in celebration back in 1997. That resume is worth an Honorable Mention.
Patrick Ramsey (2002-2005)
If Ramsey had the privilege of playing under a genuine NFL head coach, his story may have been different. Alas, he played for a college coach who was having a lark at the pro level, and Steve Spurrier made Ramsey rotate with his Florida boys Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel. When he got into a game as a rookie, he showed first-round talent, beating Tennessee in a great debut performance. In the next two games, he threw four picks and was sacked 13 times, and Ramsey returned to the bench. After a couple more years of being battered, Washington gave up on their former first-round draft pick.
Jay Schroeder (1984-1987)
Full disclosure, I never particularly liked Schroeder. And in that, I was not alone. He struck some of his teammates as having Joe Theismann’s arrogance without Theismann’s charm or productivity. My complaint was that for strong-armed quarterback who could move, he was far too streaky a player to rely on. And yet, Schroeder had a 24-7 career record as a starter, far and away the best in team history. He stepped onto the field and performed admirably against Giants in the aftermath of Theismann’s terrifying leg injury in 1985 and was very good the following year. Then, almost as quickly as it began, it all ended. A should injury limited him in 1987, and he was eventually benched in favor of Doug Williams, who led Washington to Super Bowl Glory. A year later, he was gone, but Washington did get outstanding tackle Jim Lachey in return. All in all, a brief, complicated legacy.
Alex Smith (2018 & 2020)
You all know Alex Smith’s story. When he arrived in Washington, despite his age, he was still a very productive quarterback who led Washington to a 6-3 record before his horrific leg injury. His return in 2020 will go down in Washington Football Team lore. He clearly was a reduced player at this point, but he helped the Washington Football Team into the playoffs, and boasts an 11-5 record as a starter.
Norm Snead (1961-1963)
Poor Norm Snead. The big strong rookie from Wake Forest walked into the absolute low point in Washington Football Team history. By the late ‘50s, George Preston Marshall’s stinginess and pig-headed refusal to integrate left Washington with the worst talent in the league. Snead was battered and had little help. His numbers show that. They are dreadful. But if you saw him, you knew there was a decent quarterback in there, as his four Pro Bowls and 15-year career would prove. He was a rare bright glimmer in a dismal time, and most importantly, he was the trade bait that brought Washington one of its greatest all-time quarterbacks when he left in 1964.
Doug Williams (1986-1989)
If you want to put Williams into your own personal top ten, I have no argument. He authored one of the greatest moments in Washington football history – the magical second quarter of Super Bowl XXII. And was the man ever tough. After that Super Bowl, my favorite Williams memory came the following season when he astonished medical professionals everywhere by returning to the field less than four weeks out from appendectomy surgery. Still, those moments aside, Williams only started 14 games for Washington and compiled a 5-9 record. His numbers were only average. But you were in Jack Murphy Stadium on the last day of January, 1988, you will never forget what Doug Williams was capable of.