Redskins

Redskins

January 30 will always be an important date in Redskins' history.

In 1983, the Redskins defeated the Dolphins on that date to capture their first Super Bowl title in franchise history. And in 2018, the organization completely shifted directions when they traded for veteran quarterback Alex Smith.

A lot has changed in the 24 months since Washington landed the former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback.

Prior to the trade, the Redskins were in a predicament at the quarterback position. Kirk Cousins was set to enter free agency in 2018 after playing two years under the franchise tag. Washington would have liked to keep Cousins in Washington, but the two sides discussed on and off for two years and never were able to come to a long-term agreement.

Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed deal with the Vikings.

With Smith, the Redskins believed they landed the veteran they needed to remain competitive in the NFC. In the three years with Cousins as the starter, the Redskins made the playoffs one time, and fell just short the other two. The organization believed they were right on the cusp of making the jump, but couldn't quite do it with Cousins at the helm.

In Smith, they landed a three-time Pro Bowler who had made the playoffs four out of the five years he was the starter in Kansas City.

Smith's tenure in Washington began well. The Redskins defeated Arizona in the season opener, then-head coach Jay Gruden's first Week 1 victory. A stretch of three straight victories over Carolina, Dallas and the New York Giants had the Redskins 5-2 through seven games and in first place in the NFC East. After a tough loss to Atlanta in Week 9, Smith and the Redskins bounced back with a victory over Tampa Bay in Week 10.

 

Then came the Texans game. In the third quarter with the Redskins trailing, Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury, ending his season. The Redskins backup, Colt McCoy, suffered a broken leg a week later, ending his season as well. Washington relied on Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson for the remainder of the season, and a promising 6-3 start faded into a 7-9 finish.

Smith's injury was worse than originally thought. Smith had multiple surgeries, and suffered some post-surgery infections, too. He was forced to wear a metal fixator -- a permanent brace on the outside of his leg that dug into the bones to keep them in place -- for months. He didn't get the brace removed until eight months after his initial injury.

In January of 2019, reports surfaced that Smith would miss the entire 2019 season while still recovering from the injury. Former team president Bruce Allen initially pushed back on the report, but it became apparent that the Redskins were going to have to operate without Smith at the helm in 2019.

That belief was confirmed by the organization during the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Washington invested the No. 15 overall pick in Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins, a raw product with plenty of potential. The Redskins started to think about the future at the position, rather than the present.

Entering the 2019 season, Gruden was in win-now mode. By selecting Haskins, a far from finished product, the Redskins and Gruden's path to success seemed to be on different paths.

During training camp, Smith was seen on crutches, but also spotted helping Haskins and the other quarterbacks as much as he could. His recovery was still far from complete, but Smith wanted to be part of the action somehow.

Gruden named veteran Case Keenum -- who Washington traded for the previous March -- as the team's starting quarterback. Haskins served as the backup after McCoy suffered a setback during training camp and was inactive for the first four weeks of the season. Following an 0-5 start, Gruden was fired. Interim head coach Bill Callahan took over.

Haskins took over as the full-time starter in Week 9 due to an injury to Keenum. He struggled at first. The Redskins lost to both the Bills and Jets. The rookie then put together back-to-back wins against the Lions and Panthers, but neither was an impressive performance from the rookie.

In Week 15 against the Eagles, Haskins delivered his best performance as a pro. A week later, he topped that game before a sprained ankle prematurely ended his afternoon in a 41-35 loss to the Giants. Keenum returned to the field for the season finale, where the Cowboys dominated Washington 47-16. 

 

Monday morning following the season finale, Redskins owner Dan Snyder fired longtime team president as Bruce Allen. Days later, athletic trainer Larry Hess was let go as well. Washington hired Ron Rivera as head coach. Snyder said the team was moving towards a more "coach-centric" approach. On the surface, it seems that Snyder is committed to changing the culture of the organization.

During locker room cleanout, Smith spoke to reporters publicly for the first time in months. The 34-year-old shut down any talk of him joining the Redskins front office and said he remained committed to playing football again. Additionally, Smith said that he doesn't believe his return to football would alter, or hurt, Haskins' career with the Redskins.

During Rivera's introductory press conference, he mentioned that he believes Haskins has the tools to become a franchise quarterback, but that there are some veterans that will have the chance to play, too. Who knows? That could be Smith.

Two years removed from the Smith trade, the Redskins have a new coach, quarterback, and have completely altered the front office. A rebuild awaits. Meanwhile, cornerback Kendall Fuller, who was sent back to Kansas City in the trade, is preparing for the Super Bowl.

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