Washington has seen an earlier number 1 earlier this year, losing to Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals last week. On Sunday, the team will attempt to get back on track against the Cleveland Browns, led by 2018 No. 1 selections and Murray’s Oklahoma predecessor, Baker Mayfield.
With the Los Angeles Rams ranked # 1 in 2016 with Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (Matthew Stafford, 2009) and Cincinnati Bengals (Joe Burrow, 2020), Washington could take on five quarterbacks this season, selected as # 1 were. 1 overall, that would be the largest number of such games outside of the division in franchise history. There are eight active quarterbacks taken on the top pick; New England’s Cam Newton is the only one of the six players whose starting job is not expected to take on Washington this season.
From 2002 to 2018, Washington played at least two games and an average of 4.4 games per season against teams that started quarterbacks, according to the Pro Football Reference. In 2010 and 2011 Washington played seven such games and six in four other seasons. Manning, and at various points Michael Vick, Sam Bradford, Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testaverde, starting with quarterback for teams within the division, contributed to these totals.
Former No. 1 picks have had plenty of success against Burgundy and Gold over the years. Washington is 44-72 in 117 regular season games started by the 25 quarterbacks that have ranked number 1 overall since the 1970 merger. (Washington is 1-1 against members of that group in the playoffs, loses to Jim Plunkett in Super Bowl XVIII and beats John Elway in Super Bowl XXII.)
The only quarterbacks selected as number 1 who didn’t start at least one game against Washington before retiring were Cleveland’s Tim Couch, who started 59 games in five seasons after the Browns made the former Kentucky star with the draft’s top pick from 1999. and JaMarcus Russell, the Oakland Raiders’ top pick of 2007. Russell came to the relief of Bruce Gradkowski in a loss to Washington in 2009. Sunday’s game will be Washington’s first against Mayfield.
Eli Manning, who ended his 16-year career with a record 117 to 117, started 29 games against Washington from 2004 to 2018, 19 to 10 with 33 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. Dallas Cowboys legend Troy Aikman has the second most frequent starts against Washington with a former number 1 with 20, a 12-8 with 23 touchdowns and 16 interceptions from 1989 to 2000. These long-time rivals are followed by Bradford (7), Vick ( 6) and Newton, Peyton Manning, Bledsoe, Testaverde and Steve Bartkowski, all of whom have five starts against Washington.
Stafford and Bradford both scored their first career wins against Washington in their third career start. Stafford threw for 241 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s 19-14 win over Washington in Week 3 of the 2009 season, which caused the Lions to lose their 19 games. In 2013 Washington went 6-0 against the No. 1 drafted QBs. This was the beginning of a streak of eleven straight defeats against seven different quarterbacks that were scored with the top selection. Jameis Winston’s only start against Washington in 2015 was a rookie, and it was a memorable one when Kirk Cousins led the biggest comeback in franchise history in a 31:30 win over the Buccaneers at FedEx Field.
Several games per year against quarterbacks, drafted No. 1 overall, became non-regular for Washington until the 1989 Cowboys drafted Aikman. Previously, the quintet of quarterbacks from 1970 to 1987 selected No. 1 – Terry Bradshaw, Plunkett, Steve Bartkowski, Elway and Testaverde – started a total of 10 games against Washington in the regular season. Washington would play three games that same season against QBs, first drafted No. 1 in 1990, including two against Aikman.
Washington didn’t have number 1 in the Super Bowl era, but two previous number 1 picks started at the quarterback for burgundy and gold during that time. Jeff George, the top pick for the Indianapolis Colts in 1990, went 1-6 with Washington in 2000 and 2001. Smith, the San Francisco 49ers’ first draft pick in 2005 and a current backup in DC, was 6-4 for Washington in 2018 from a knee injury and infection that nearly cost him his life.