As far as I am concerned, Kirk Cousins is the new starting QB for the Washington Redskins for the rest of this season, barring injury or surprise. He did really well in the loss Sunday to the Phildelphia Eagles. He did about as well as anyone could have hoped, even better.
If someone is performing well in a job, any job, and shows prospects of getting even better, you don’t replace him. Give him his wings and let him go as high as he can, until he crashes or otherwise proves unworthy. Cousins looks every bit like an NFL QB now and RG III, in the last 9+ games he has played, does not.
Sports writers and coaches will agonize over all of this, but the obvious is right in front of our faces. But for a few plays, the Redskins would have won Sunday and, overall, they looked like a team that can win instead of a collection of untrained talent just running around trying to become a team. (I am skipping right over the intentional violence late in the game; there is and will be plenty of commentary about that by people whose job it is to obsess over football. Thanks, but no thanks.)
As I have said before, I am not a football expert, not even a devoted fan. I have watched it for years and had a friend who was a player on the Dallas Cowboys and aside from doing running workouts with a former professional football player when I was a kid, that’s about my limit of any contact with football other than the obvious, seeing and thinking about games. Okay? Read on, casual fan. The devoted can find their commentary elsewhere, I presume.
There was one little noticed play Sunday in the third quarter that caught my attention. It was third and two with the ‘Skins deep in Philadelphia territory. The offensive call player sent in a pass on third and two. A pass? No confidence in the run? The result was a dropped pass, Washington turned the ball over to Philly. the Eagles scored on their next possession and the rest is history. That third down, turned into a first, could have given Washington a touchdown. Well, this is what drives coaches nuts, of course, the idea that any one play can turn a game around in their opponents favor. Still, I don’t understand play calling and why something safer isn’t tried in this kind of situation and something riskier, but more rewarding, isn’t called until late in the 4th quarter.
What seems to predominate in play calling to me is the idea, “Hey, we’ve got a lead, let’s not take crazy chances” and then, when there is no lead and almost no hope, things get wild. When I sit and watch, like most I suppose, I see chances to win a game ignored in favor of the safe play and then, late in the game, it is too late.
From the start, RG III came to the Redskins like some kind of miracle in the desert. They had been losing so long, always finding just the right combination to lose, that the team had come to seem hopeless. Yet, Griffin seemed like a wild child, too eager, too fragile and too exposed to 300 pound defensive linemen coming his way to last in the NFL. From the moment he first showed his remarkable skills and his ability to scramble over the field, adding yards when none seemed possible, I feared for him, his career and even his life. I cringed at what he was exposing himself to and what the coaches allowed him to do. He seemed a man blessed with too much talent, someone created to come and flame out, badly. Then, he came back from injury for the 2013 season and simply was not the same. That he is out again with an injury could easily have been predicted.
Anyway, assuming Cousins does well, as I think he will, and RG III is not available for the next three or four weeks, the job is Cousins to lose at that point. The team has to do well for the QB to look really good, which means they need to win the next few games. In the end, Cousins will likely be named the full time starter and Washington will not keep Robert Griffin the Third around as a back-up. He wouldn’t take it and they wouldn’t want to pay him the dough. So, more changes and uncertainty ahead of a team that has specialized in those qualities for the last couple of decades. Yikes.
Doug Terry, 9.22.14