Redskins Team Comparison from ’97 Team

Washington Commanders

From DC Staff Writer John Manuel:

I was curious to see how the 2012 Washington Redskins roster stood up against the roster from 15 years ago, the Norv Turner coached 1997 team.  Norv’s 1997 team went 8-7-1 and finished 2nd in the NFC East, a record that many would call a success for 2012.  The NFC East is more competitive this year but 8 wins would have to be an improvement.  In 1997, Norv had both Mike Nolan and Mike Martz on his coaching staff also.  So let’s take a look:


2012- Robert Griffin III, Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins.
1997- Gus Frerotte, Jeff Hostetler, Trent Green

The excitement and unknown of RG3 has to be favored over Gus and Hoss who battled for the starting job that season.  Knowing what we know now about Gus as a solid 2nd string QB for many years we have to think the drafting of both RG3 and Cousins puts Shanahan in a better position than Turner was.  Turner was still reeling from the selection of Heath Shuler at that point.  Something Shanahan and the Redskins organization cannot afford.

Running Backs:

2012- Tim Hightower, Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Darrel Young
1997- Terry Allen, Larry Bowie, Stephen Davis

In 97, Allen and Davis split the job and were a pretty decent 1-2.  Allen had already had big years for Turner and Davis was starting to take over as the prime back.  Helu and Royster showed promise last season like Davis in 1997 and Hightower is very similar to Allen so I think it’s close to a wash until we see what happens with the 2nd year guys.  I would take Young over Bowie any day.


2012- Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Anthony Armstrong, Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, Niles Paul, Aldrick Robinson
1997- Michael Westbrook, Henry Ellard, Albert Connell, Alvin Harper, Leslie Shepherd, Jamie Asher, James Jenkins

As for 1997, this may be one of the worst position ensembles I have ever seen.  Ellard was a great pro but at the end of his career.  Westbrook was on his way to bust outside of the 99 season.  Harper was a disaster as a Skin, and Connell is most famous for being a thief with the Saints.  Asher was decent for a couple seasons.  By default, the questionable 2012 crew wins.  I will take my chances on Garcon and Morgan adding to Moss and Hankerson.  And the Skins are much better at tight end with Matlock, Cooley and Paul.

Offensive Line:

2012- Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, Willie Smith, Tyler Polumbus, Maurice Hurt, Josh LeRibeis
1997- Shar Pourdanesh , Joe Patton, Jeff Uhlenhake, Tre Johnson, Ed Simmons, Darryl Ashmore, Cory Raymer, Brad Badger, Bob Dahl

Not the Hogs either way.  The bright spot in ’97 was Tre Johnson, other than that, it was question marks.  The bright spot in 2012 is Trent Williams, other than that, it is question marks.  And that is being kind to Tokin’ Trent.  Pourdanesh and Simmons near the end of his career were far from bookends.  Patton seemed promising but fizzled out and Uhlenhake was a veteran plug in.  I would have to say we are better in 2012 mainly due to the hope that the guys Shanny has will roll his zone blocking system out right.

Defensive Line:
2012- Adam Carriker, Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Nield, Kedrick Golston, Kentwan Balmer
1997- Kenard Lang, Chris Mims, Marc Boutte, Rich Owens, Steve Emtman, Jamal Duff, William Gaines

Different systems with the  3-4 versus the Mike Nolan 4-3 of 1997.  The highlight of the 1997 crew is that they had a guy named Boutte.  Lang was pretty decent, but probably never lived up to a 1st round pick status.  RIP Mims.  Owens was a good story but never excelled.  Emtman was an injury bust in the NFL whose best highlight may be as the NFL player who nobody knew in “Little Giants.”  The ’12 crew we have discussed before, I like the talent and depth and think they are very promising.  This is a much better situation now than 1997.

2012- Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher, Perry Riley, Ryan Kerrigan, Lorenzo Alexander, Jonathan Goff, Marcus White
1997- Ken Harvey, Marvcus Patton, Derek Smith, Greg Jones, Twan Russell, Patrise Alexander

A solid veteran pro bowl linebacker who was or is hindered playing for bad Redskins teams.  You can mark London Fletcher and Ken Harvey in that situation.  Played different but so far have very similar respected Redskin careers.  In 97, they had a solid linebacking crew but the 2012 group can be special.  Year two of the Orakpo/ Kerrigan outside rush could be impressive.,  Derek Smith as a rookie played very well but he didn’t give the opposite help to Harvey that Orakpo and Kerrigan share.  Then again it was a different system also.  Still have to be happy with what the Skins have now.

Defensive Backs:
2012- DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes, Cedric Griffin, Brandon Merriweather, Madeiu Williams, Reed Doughty, Tanard Jackson
1997- Darrell Green, Cris Dishman, Stanley Richard, Jesse Campbell, Keith Thibodeux, Leomont Evans, Darryl Pounds

I gotta go with the 1997 Dbacks here.  Green and Dishman were near the top of corner combos back then.  Green in all ways is an upgrade over D Hall.  I wasn’t a fan of the Sheriff but he would be a lock to start in 2012 over any of the cast of Skins 2012 safeties.  Campbell would possibly also.  There’s more depth in 2012, but not a huge difference.  We will know a lot more in November on the current crew based on how well coaches Jim Haslett and Raheem Morris can mold the questionable parts.

Kicking Game:
2012- Graham Gano/ Neil Rackers, Sav Rocca
1997- Scott Blanton/ Chris Jacke, Matt Turk

The kicking game was horrible in 1997.  The Gano/Rackers preseason winner cannot be worse than Blanton.  The punters would be a good debate.  Turk was at the top of his game in 97.   And Rocca was very good last season.  It’s a win/win there.

Return Game:
2012- Brandon Banks, Terrence Austin, Aldrick Robinson
1997- Brian Mitchell

Brian Mitchell is someone who warrants Hall of Fame consideration and was in the prime of his return years.  Banks showed promise but with the new kickoff rules was a non-factor last season and is far from a lock from even making the team.  Easiest call of the day.  Banks…joking, it’s B Mitch.

From what I see I have to favor the current roster.  Like I said the competition is better now and so is the NFL talent so it may be an unfair comparison.  I do like having Mike Shanahan as coach more than Norv Turner as well.  Shanahan probably wishes it was 97 right now.  He was winning and tanning wasn’t as tough back then.


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