Brian Orakpo’s season ended this week, another torn pectoral muscle ending another underwhelming campaign. That likely ends his time with the Redskins, too.
He had some decent seasons — including a few Pro Bowl campaigns — but I’ll always think of him as somewhat disappointing, because he wasn’t supposed to be decent. He was supposed to be a dominating sack machine, the missing piece to the pass rush, and somehow there was always some excuse why that never happened.
So this depressing news got me thinking about disappointing Redskins players. I immediately convened an emergency meeting of the Mr. Irrelevant Redskins brain-trust to determine who the MOST disappointing Redskins player was.
(Note: This is not to be confused with Dan Snyder’s top 10 offseason champs. That is a different but related thing.)
This turned out to be a very long meeting. There has been a LOT of disappointment in the last 20+ years.
We briefly considered dividing the disappointments into various subsets — draft busts separate from free agent disasters, or failed wide receivers separate from failed defensive superstars — but in the end decided that one consolidated list was the way to go. Here’s the top 10, along with others receiving votes.
(Note: There was some talk given to including RG3 pretty high up on this list, but I … I just can’t. Not yet. I’m unilaterally moving him back to others receiving votes for at least a little while longer.)
When you get to the end, you can vote for your own biggest disappointment, or write in someone we missed in the comments.
10. Patrick Ramsey
Arrived as the 32nd overall pick in the draft. Started 24 games in a four-year Redskins career. Somehow signed with seven other teams over the next five seasons but never started another game.
9. Reggie Brooks
Arrived as the 45th overall pick of the 1993 NFL Draft. Started 16 games in a three-year Redskins career, fumbling an insane 7 times. For further detail we go to Unsilent, who demanded with unsettling zeal that Brooks be included on this list: “He was one of the few bright spots on a bad ’93 team who averaged nearly 5 yards per carry while eclipsing 1,000 yards as a rookie. Then he never did anything right ever again and the entire franchise went to shit.” Fair point!
8. LaRon Landry
Arrived as 6th overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Was supposed to form a terrifying safety tandem with Sean Taylor for years to come, which obviously never happened for reasons that go beyond “disappointing”. Spent five seasons with Washington and never really lived up to his ludicrous physique. Had a monkey. Has been with two teams since leaving Washington and is currently serving the least surprising PED suspension of all time.
7. Michael Westbrook
Arrived as the 4th overall pick of the 1995 NFL Draft. The FOURTH pick! I had forgotten that! Spent seven years in Washington while somehow only having one good season (1,191 yards with 9 touchdowns in 1999). Better known for punching Stephen Davis in the face — was like Steve Smith Sr. in the punching teammates department, but not at all like him in the amazing onfield performance department. Has had infinitely more success in International Brazilian jiu-jitsu than he ever did in the NFL. The FOURTH PICK! He should probably be ranked higher on this list.
6. Dana Stubblefield
Arrived as a big-ticket free agent signing in February of 1998 on a six-year $36 million contract. Immediately began attempting to lower expectations, presumably to avoid winding up on a list like this. “I don’t want these guys coming in thinking I’m going to be the turnaround man,” he said. “I don’t score points. I stop the run. I have linebackers who will help me out. I got defensive backs who will help me out. Sometimes I’ll come up and make a big play, but I expect everyone to keep playing as hard as they have been.” Had 7 sacks in his three-year Redskins career, less than half as many as he had in his contract-earning 1997 season alone.
5. Brian Orakpo
Arrived as the 13th overall pick in the 2009 Draft. Unlike most of the clowns on this list, he is disappointing more for not being as great as we wanted rather than for being generally awful, although I’ve been personally disappointed in him since that stupid GEICO Scrabble commercial. Is currently shut down for the year with a torn pectoral muscle for the second time in three seasons. (His first torn pec, in 2011, came in Week 17, so he didn’t really have the chance to be shut down.)
4. Albert Haynesworth
I just can’t go through all the Haynesworth stuff again. I can’t. Here’s a very brief summary: He signed a huge-money free agent contract and was unrelentingly awful from then on. The only reason he’s not higher on the list is because we all pretty much figured he was going to fail from the jump — it’s tough to disappoint when expectations are that low. I suspect Snyder, Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan would rank him much differently.
3. LaVar Arrington
Came to town as the second overall pick in the 2000 Draft. Had several good seasons (including 11 sacks in 2002, of which I remember exactly none) and concussed Troy Aikman out of the league back in the days when it was still socially acceptable to be happy about brain trauma. But he was supposed to be Lawrence Taylor and wasn’t, and then he clashed with St. Joe Gibbs and got run out of town, and from there it was all motorcycle accidents and failed restaurants and terrible, terrible radio.
2. Heath Shuler
Arrived as the third pick in the 1994 NFL Draft and was immediately awful. Split time with John Friesz to start the season, then completed 36.7% of his passes in his first full game, a 34-7 loss to the Cowboys in RFK Stadium. Two games later, he would somehow throw five interceptions to the Cardinals, four of which went to guys named Williams. Started a total of 13 games in his three years with the Redskins and was never, ever any good. Yet somehow, because these are the Redskins, they have a player even more disappointing than one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history.
1. Desmond Howard
Howard is more disappointing than Shuler because the franchise was already terrible when Shuler got here. Howard joined the reigning Super Bowl champions and was supposed to provide an instant offensive upgrade. Instead, he spent three years proving that he couldn’t be a wide receiver on the NFL level and then left the Redskins. He would be named Super Bowl XXXI MVP as a returner for Green Bay, primarily to further annoy Redskins fans. To this day I can’t watch ESPN College GameDay without feeling a faint sense of sadness and loss because of his presence. He is the most disappointing Redskins player ever, an award I’m sure he will put on his shelf right next to his Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl ring.
Others receiving votes
These are the folks who were mediocre even in how disappointing they were: Malcolm Kelly, Adam Archuleta, Deion Sanders, Jeremiah Trotter, Mark Carrier, Jason Campbell, Brandon Lloyd, Fred Davis, Jason Taylor, Devin Thomas, Antwaan Randle El, Rod Gardner, Chad Morton, and John Hall. Oh, and Robert Griffin III. Him too.