Kirk Cousins stuck in neutral. Why that’s bad for the Redskins.

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins must look at the career trajectory of Nick Foles with envy. Cousins isn't that type. He is devout and he believes that The Lord guided his path to Washington to back up Robert Griffin III. A weaker man (me) would shout out, "Why, oh Lord, am I not in Philadelphia?"

Cousins and Foles dueled for the starting quarterback slot for the Michigan State University Spartans in 2008. Cousins won. He would lead the Spartans to their greatest two-year run in 2010 and 2011.

Foles found his own glory after transferring to the University of Arizona  in 2008.

Hog Heaven watched Cousins through his college career and followed both Cousins and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson in 2011. We considered Cousins, Wilson and Foles equivalent talents when they entered the NFL in the golden quarterback class of 2012.

That's not how they stand today. Cousins has lost ground big time to Wilson and Foles for lack of game starts. That's a problem for the Redskins.

Mike Shanahan was lauded for his smooth move of picking Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Cousins was the No. 2 quarterback of the Redskins' Draft board, according to Shanahan. He rewarded the team with a clutch save against the Ravens and a win over the Browns.

But to develop, Cousins needs first team reps and game starts as much as Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Wilson and Foles. Foles has made the most of Michael Vick's fragility. His 2013 passer rating is 132.5, way ahead of his 79.1 rating in 2012. The Eagles are 3-1 with Foles as starter. Some suggest he is better for Chip Kelly's offense than Vick.

The irony is that the Redskins want Griffin to become better at the pocket passing skills Cousins was more practiced at when they were rookies.

No one argues that Cousins should start over Griffin (when Griffin is healthy). But the more starts and first team practice reps Griffin takes, the further behind his peers Cousins falls.

NFL teams avoid having at the same time two quarterbacks at the same stage of their career. Either they have a wily veteran backed by a young prospect, or they have a young starter backed by a grizzled vet who can step in at a moment's notice.

The Redskins layered youth on youth in 2012. That made sense last year, but in 2013, Cousins is 23 starts behind Griffin and Wilson. The step down from Griffin to Cousins is bigger than last year. It will show in games when Shanahan is forced to insert Cousins on short no notice. That gap will widen over time.

Limited options

Cousins' fate is not in his hands. He stays ‒ on the bench ‒ if that's where the Redskins need him. If Washington should shop Cousins, they would fight attractive alternatives in the marketplace.

Quarterback-needy teams will look first at the 2014 Draft with bright prospects Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Derek Carr, (Fresno State), Zack Mettenberger (LSU) and Tajh Boyd (Clemson). Complicating matters are decisions to be made by redshirt sophomores Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley. All are more famous than their BCS elders. The NFL hold this class in higher regrad than the 2013 group.

The Eagles may decide to cut Vick or Foles in 2014. Each would draw more interest than Cousins if they actually hit the market.  

The Redskins fare no better. They do not have a 2014 first round pick to spend, nor would they use their second round pick on a quarterback.

There is little value to them to trade Cousins for a fourth-round pick or lower and then select a talent who won't be an immediate starter.

QB free agents in 2014 will be more costly than Cousins' rookie pay scale without giving the team a boost in talent they won't use anyway except in emergencies. Cousins can ride the bench for cheaper than Chad Henne , Tavaris Jackson, or Rex Grossman.

For better or worse, the Redskins and Cousins are stuck together. That's better for Washington, worse for Cousins. It doesn't help either party.

Football Nation Slide Show: 10 Teams in Need of a Quarterback in 2014.

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Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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