I’ve never been afraid to admit when I’m wrong, and I’ve been wrong a lot. I was certain that both Patrick Ramsey, and then Jason Campbell would lead the Redskins to great success. I was sure Adam Archuletta (later Oshiomogo Atogwe) would provide the spark our secondary desperately needed and in 2005 I was convinced that the Redskins made a huge mistake trading Laveranues Coles for Santana Moss.
Coles was a solid 5’11” and 195 pounds. Not only did he have good size for a NFL WR, he could run like the wind. When the Redskins signed him 2003, he was part of crop of four former Jets G Randy Thomas, RB/KR Chad Morton and K John Hall. Despite the fact that this quartet was derisively named the “JetSkins” I instantly became a fan of Coles. I even learned to spell Laveranues correctly.
The Redskins were characteristically awful in 2003, but Coles shined. He racked up 82 catches for 1,204 yards and 6 TD’s, almost exact copies of his 2002 season with the New York Jets. Those numbers brought him to the Pro Bowl. He looked like a budding star for the Redskins. That offseason, following a year Washington went 5-11, Dan Snyder pulled a coup hiring back legendary head coach Joe Gibbs. It seemed that the young talent on the Redskins like Coles would finally have a chance to develop under a legend. Unfortunately, the team was broken, they needed more than one year of Gibbs to get back into shape. In 2004 the team only improved to 6-10, and it seemed clear that Coles was becoming a bit of a malcontent. My resolve in Coles wasn’t shaken, in my mind, winning healed all wounds and everything would be fine with another season of play. Coach Gibbs took things in another direction, and decided to clean house. Both Coles and former first round pick Rod Gardner had asked for trades out of Washington. Coles, the better player with a long term contract, was easier to trade and he went first.
I can remember reading ESPN.com the morning of March 6th, 2005 and being mad. A trade of Laveranues Coles for Santana Moss had been talked about for weeks, and was now finally completed. In my estimation the Redskins had gotten fifty cents on the dollar. Both receivers were fast, but Coles was bigger, stronger, and seemed to be a much more multi dimensional player than Moss. In the year before the trade Moss struggled and made only 45 receptions for 838 yards. Not only did I feel like Coles was a superior talent, but in order to make the trade the Redskins had to take a six million dollar cap hit. It seemed like Coles talked his way out of town, and the Redskins never made any effort to keep him, leading to a chain of events that cost a huge chunk of cap space (enough to sign a really solid player) and replaced Coles with an inferior copy.
It did not take long for Santana Moss to prove me wrong.
In his second game as a Redskin, Moss scored both Washington touchdowns in a 14-13 victory over the hated Dallas Cowboys. He ended the game with 5 catches for 159 yards. That year Moss became arguably the Redskins most devastating offensive weapon, joining a resurgent Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis to propel the Redskins not just to the playoffs… but to a playoff victory against Tampa Bay. While the team success ended there, Moss had joined smaller wide receivers like Gary Clark, Ricky Sanders and Charlie Brown in having highly productive years as Redskins under coach Joe Gibbs. His season totals for 2005 showed 84 receptions, 1,483 yards and 9 touchdowns. Such stellar numbers got him elected to the Pro Bowl. To highlight the success he had, Laveranues Coles struggled in his first year back as a New York Jet. I won’t badmouth Coles here, in 2005 he came forward, admitting that he was sexually abused as a child. No doubt this had an impact on his on field performance, but the huge success that Santana Moss had in 2005 proved the trade was a rare “win” for embattled former Vice President for Football Operations, Vinny Cerrato.
Moss’ tenure with the Redskins has lasted 8 seasons so far, and in that time he’s been the Redskins receiving leader 6 times. In the Redskins record books he ranks 4th all time in receiving yards, 7th in receiving touchdowns and 4th in receptions. With a restructuring of his contract, Moss will be back in 2013, and he’ll have a chance to challenge those records once more. For a guy I felt certain was worth only half as much as Laveranues Coles, Moss made me into a fan of his. Moss has been with Washington for every major Redskins victory and event for the last 8 years. From the playoff win vs. Tampa in 2005 to Robert Griffin III‘s rookie season. What will his ninth season in burgundy and gold bring?