As of Week 13 in the 2019 NFL season, Washington is currently second to last in the NFC East and tied for the third-worst record in the entire league. The team has suffered from coaching changes, a tough schedule, and a notable lack of talent. The team will likely not have a single pro bowler and will lose their franchise left tackle Trent Williams this offseason. Not re-signing players and giving up on past draft picks has lead to a massive loss in talent, and it is unsurprising that many players have ended up thriving outside of Washington while their former team can barely get a win. As the team gets worse, these past players seem to get better and better.
QB Kirk Cousins — Minnesota Vikings
Washington originally drafted Cousins back in 2012 in the fourth round. He spent three of his six seasons starting. In the 2018 offseason, Cousins was given a massive three year, $84 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings. After a lackluster 2018 season, Cousins has turned it back on this year. He has 3032 yards and 23 touchdowns while leading the Vikings to an 8-4 record. Cousins is the highest-paid player for this year’s season and is still playing well compared to Washington’s QBs who are last in the league in passing yards and touchdowns. Cousins is playing better in Minnesota than he ever did in DC and is likely to give the Vikings a playoff spot.
OLB Preston Smith — Green Bay Packers
Smith was the 2015 second-round pick for Washington and was supposed to give the team another pass rusher to pair with Ryan Kerrigan. Unfortunately, he never really panned out in DC — only notching 24 sacks in four years of starting. The Packers took a chance on him this offseason and signed him for four years. After 13 weeks, he has 10.5 sacks — good enough for fifth in the entire NFL. He always seemed to be a premier pass rusher but was never able to show it in Washington. His case is one of many that ended up better outside of DC.
Head Coaches Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay
Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator in DC from 2010-13 under his father, Mike. Shanahan’s offense had some success in those years with Robert Griffin III at the helm, but when his father was fired, so was Kyle. Notice how Washington hasn’t had a top-level offense since then. Kyle went from the Browns to the Falcons and eventually ended as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. His first two years in California found him winning a total of 10 games with the best season being 6-10 in 2017. Now that he has a healthy offense and quarterback in (team), Shanahan and the 49ers are thriving. They are tied for first place in a very competitive NFC West with a record of 10-2. Shanahan is a Coach of the Year nominee and looks to bring San Francisco to its first playoff game since 2013.
McVay was the team’s offensive line coach and offensive coordinator from 2010-16 before the Los Angeles Rams signed him as their head coach in 2017. Since then, the Rams have a record of 31-13 and two playoff appearances. He led them to this past year’s Superbowl where they fell to the New England Patriots 13-3. Though the Rams haven’t had as much success this season (7-5, third place in the NFC West), we had to include McVay on this list because of the Rams’ recent success.
There needs to be serious change in Washington to break this curse.
Kyle Fuller, Desean Jackson, and Trent Murphy all deserve to be on this list as well, proving the dire circumstances faced these days at FedEx Field. It needs to start at the GM level with the firing of Bruce Allen who just can’t seem to get it right. He has failed to provide the team the talent it needs to succeed, and can’t stop losing players with the potential to be great elsewhere. The longer the terrible front office personnel stay in Washington, the longer it will be until there is a playoff game in DC.