You knew the overreaction was coming as soon as Joe Theismann said, “if there was a quarterback competition, there would be not be a competition” (or words to that effect.) Theismann noted during the Redskins-Ravens preseason game that Cousins outshone Robert Griffin III as a pocket passer.
It is too late to pull that switch now and it is too late to trade Cousins at this point in the preseason.
The Redskins would throw away their entire investment in Griffin of OTA-training camp-preseason practice time in exchange for the player the team has developed as a back up. That is not going to happen, folks. RGIII, for better or worse, will open the season as starting quarterback of your Washington Redskins.
Trade partners, by the way, would have signed up for Cousins last February in time for their OTAs for the same reason. That’s the importance of the offseason to quarterbacks. Cousins would be third on the depth chart for any team he joined today. No team would give up a second or third round Draft pick in August for a fill-in player, nor would the Redskins accept anything less given concerns that even Jay Gruden expressed about RG’s skills as a pocket quarterback.
Theismann said, by the way, that he would start Cousins for the Houston game. If he were to name a starter for the season, it would be Griffin and that Gruden would go that way.
Pros and cons of a quarterback competition
The Cleveland Browns are an interesting contrast to the Redskins in treatment of their prized Heisman Trophy quarterback savior. They also show why head coaches hate, HATE, “quarterback competitions.”
Everyone from the owner down made clear to Johnny Manziel that he was the back up. In the face of fans’ joyful hysteria, Johnny Football would have to earn his way to the starting spot over a journeyman no less.
Brian Hoyer won out, but head coach Mike Pettine acknowledged that he was now behind in development for the loss of practice reps with the first team. The only advantage to the Browns for the quarterback competition is that it has silenced for the moment the voices calling for Manziel to start. The Browns are not better off for the competition.
The Redskins equivalent would have been a Grossman-Griffin competition. You know Mike Shanahan did not have the option to do that, right? Even with ironclad full control of football operations, the forces against doing that was too much unless the owner openly backed the play.
As a result, RG has been handed the starting role his entire NFL career. In hindsight, a competition would have been helpful last year to expose in preseason that Griffin was not ready to start.
Instead, we were the willing victims to “all in for day one.” Cousins was developed as a back up. All the practice and game reps went to Griffin. Cousins is behind Griffin by 24 starts, which shows the downside of drafting two starting caliber quarterbacks in the same Draft class. Like the Highlander, there can only be one…starter who gets the reps. The Redskins committed the reps to Griffin. He is your starter.
Be careful what you wish for…
…is a lesson we all have to learn in our growing adulthood. Griffin would be better off in in the Kyle and Mike Shanahan offense after investing two years of time in it. The Redskins might have been better off naming Gary Kubiak as head coach to keep that offense without keeping the Shanahans.
We still don’t know the full story behind the Griffin-Shanahan feud. When it got ugly, the owner backed the player instead of the coach. (Hog Heaven does not lay it all at the feet of the Shanahans.) Griffin wished them gone. Now he has a new learning curve in a new offense of a new coach. It is the price for getting what he wished.
Such transitions take to mid-season to gel. We know this because we’ve seen a lot of coaching changes in Washington. Every one of them had rough starts. We are seeing the rough edges of Griffin and Cousins in adjusting to Gruden. This was to be expected.
Mike Jones of the Washington Newspaper put it best, “It’s up to Griffin to prove the Shanahan’s wrong.”
Griffin must run smarter
The Redskins need RG to be the duel threat quarterback we saw in 2012. He does not have to rush for 120 attempts he did as a rookie. That was
too much excessive.
Griffin gained 18 yards on that run in the Cleveland game that caused such conniptions. Hog Heaven has no problem with the run. The problem was that RG did not go down or out of bounds when he gained enough for a first down. That is what Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees would have done. That’s running smarter.
When those smart people said that Andrew Luck was “the most pro ready quarterback in a generation,” they said that because he emerged from a top-tier BCS school that ran a pro-style offense. Griffin emerged from Baylor’s spread offense. His success as a rookie came as the Shanahans showed more flexibility than expected in blending that offense into their scheme.
Griffin must run the ball to be successful. We just want him to run less — not more than 60 times this season while getting no less than 30 touchdowns.
Knowing to throw the ball away instead of running is a pro ready skill too.