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When It Comes To Redskins, Rookie Quarterbacks Have All The Luck

By ZAC BOYER | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – Barry Cofield had no idea the Washington Redskins have struggled mightily against rookie quarterbacks. When presented with the facts, the nose tackle could merely shake his head.


Eight games. Seven years. Zero victories.

“So it’s been a while,” Cofield said. “I wasn’t even in the league, and I’m an old guy now.”

Facing a rookie quarterback, at least in theory, should be a favorable situation for a defense. The inexperience and lack of familiarity often displayed by such a player can lead to mistakes and carelessness.

That should only be magnified this afternoon at FedEx Field as the Redskins host Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles. Foles, drafted in the third round out of Arizona, will be making his first start after Michael Vick left the Eagles’ game against Dallas a week ago with a concussion.

Still, recent history delivers a cautionary tale. While only time will tell how Foles develops as a quarterback and what path his career eventually takes, the Redskins haven’t been defeated solely by the elite.

They lost to Sam Bradford in 2010, Matthew Stafford in 2009 and Joe Flacco in 2008. They also lost to Trent Edwards in 2007 and Vince Young and Bruce Gradkowski in 2006, and Cam Newton and Christian Ponder were each victorious last season.

In fact, the eight consecutive losses to a rookie quarterback is the longest streak since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

“I think some rookies, obviously, are more prepared than others,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “But when I look at [Foles], he played well in the preseason, and actually did some good things when Vick went out with injury. He can do some good things.”

Foles went 22-for-32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Philadelphia’s 38-23 loss last week against the Cowboys. The score was tied entering the fourth quarter before Dallas scored a touchdown on a punt return and an interception return within the first three minutes.

It was Foles’ first action since the preseason, when he played in all four games and had a 110.1 quarterback rating – the third-highest amongst all players who threw at least 14 passes.

“We’ve really only seen three quarters on him in the real football part of it, but I can tell you he’s a smart kid, a tough kid and he’s got a good arm,” Eagles head coach Andy Reid said last week. “You know, the players have respect for him.”

Cofield, recently elected a team captain, said he wanted preach a similar message to his defensive teammates during the week. The nose tackle’s theory for the lack of success against rookie quarterbacks is that the Redskins may have taken them too lightly in recent years.

“I think complacency is something that you worry about when you’ve got a rookie, and then a lot of times, those guys are going on adrenaline, man,” Cofield said. “You’ve got that beginner’s luck that first time you walk out there.”

The Redskins’ coaches are slightly more familiar with Foles’ abilities because, as one of the quarterbacks chosen to play in the Senior Bowl in January, they were able to work with him on techniques and fundamentals during the course of the week.

But none of that carries over 10 months later, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said, because the coaches merely tried to teach the 6-foot-6, 243-pound Foles the basics “so we had a chance not to embarrass ourselves in that game.”

“Not that you know everything about him, but [you know] he’s a great kid with a lot of ability,” head coach Mike Shanahan said.

DeAngelo Hall, who played with Vick at Virginia Tech and still keeps in touch with him, said the one advantage to not facing the veteran this week is because of Vick’s scrambling ability.

Recognizing that streak, though, Hall rightly expressed his caution that the challenge may not be as easy as the perception dictates.

“This kid’s in this league for a reason,” the cornerback said. “He’s waiting for his chance to get out there and play, and it just so happens that it’s coming against us.”