Forecast: Grim

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Yes, you read that headline right.

Sorry, to be a bummer. I know, I know. Kirk looked fabulous. I mean that. Hell, he looked like Tom Brady.

He made great reads, threw the ball on time and accurately, and knew when to flush plays that were dead on arrival. He was a leader, and ready to play, which is the hallmark of a pro’s pro who plays the role of backup.

I’m very happy for him. Good kid. But it was Jacksonville. And their secondary had all the coordination of electric football pieces with their plastic bases bent out of shape. I am pretty sure Cousins is not Brady, but we shall see.

Now, back to the smoldering wreckage that is the RG3 “era” here in Washington.

Oh sure. “We can rebuild him.” As Jay Gruden himself said after the game, Griffin will probably “set records” for the fastest comeback from a dislocated ankle.

Super. Can we hang a banner for that “record” too?

The sobering, depressing fact will begin to set in, if it hasn’t already: Mike Shanahan’s big bet is likely a loser.

Four for one. That was the deal. We gave up 3 number 1 picks and a 2nd rounder, and we got back RG3.

Four for one.

I said at the time, nobody is worth 4 picks.

Except maybe Peyton Manning in his prime.

Now, RG3 is hurt again. At best (as of this writing) he could return at some point in 2014. And do what? Limp around and keep trying to “evolve” into a pocket passer? And what if Cousins is playing well?

At worst, he’s back to square one next summer, having missed one entire off-season, one entire season, and with major, catastrophic injuries to each side of the machinery that makes him mobile.

He will be entering his fourth season, as uncertain as ever as the franchise quarterback, yet also running into a crucial club decision on whether to pick up his 5th year option.

Cousins may complicate that greatly, should he show enough to warrant a new deal. Which he will be due as soon as 2016, since as a 4th round pick the team only controls him for four years off his rookie deal, not five like first rounders.

Fast forward to next September 1st. Can you see the nightmare from here? I can.

RG3 vs. Cousins is far from resolved as to your future, and both guys will need a decision. New deal for Kirk? Don’t pick up the option on Robert’s 5th year until he proves he can stay healthy? And how exactly do you manage that hot mess in the media and with fans? Who is on the cover of the media guide?

Hell, who’s the starter?

I know what you are saying: this is a GOOD problem to have. Right? Most teams would KILL for a decent young backup, right?

Sorta. And that’s assuming Cousins is “decent.” The remaining 14 games will be a demanding task master. Right now he’s got two wins as a starter in the NFL. Cleveland and Jacksonville.

As Denny Green once said: “If you wanna crown him, then go ahead… crown his ass!”

I said before the season – and loudly – that Griffin was going to have a good year. Better than last year, but not quite his rookie tour de force. My only fear, was re-injury.

Those fears have come home full force.

I don’t want to pretend like I know what players are “injury prone” but the data points are surely coming in on Griffin, and they look bad. Some have said he’s got little “sprinter legs” that are unsuitable for a long career.

Eh. Maybe. I don’t have a leg caliper on me, and Griffin hasn’t let me get close enough to him yet to measure.

Perhaps more troubling is the undeniable truth that the door is now sealed like a vault on him ever returning to the “electrifying” RG3 we saw as a rookie. The one who could capture the edge on any pass rusher, the one who could suck a defense into his jetwash while darting up the middle.

That guy? Gone.

Gone, gone, gone. We’ve barked and the birds have flown. The trail is cold, if there ever was one.

Not that I bow out, at this point, nor should the Redskins.

But what did this organization project for Griffin, when they pushed such a dizzying ransom onto the table for him? Did they scout and rate him as a “revolutionary” dual-threat weapon for a decade or more? Did they expect to transition him into a more pure pocket passer after his rookie season?

We’ll never know, and the guy who committed us to this purchase has been fired. He’s likely in Cabo. Ask him.

It’s not so much that I wonder “WILL RG3 be any good when he comes back” it’s “WHAT GOOD is RG3 when he comes back from now this latest speed scrubbing injury?”

Let me take a wild swing at “Best Case/Worst Case.”

Best Case: Cousins plays GREAT, and this team makes the playoffs. He’s named the starter next summer (regardless of RG3’s rehab) we sign him to a new deal and tell RG3 this will be his last year as a Redskin. Cousins proceeds to be our franchise QB for a minimum of 5 years.

Worst Case: RG3 is wrecked and will never be the same. Cousins proves to be a backup caliber player you simply cannot make your starter, or spend any significant money on. We are back draft-hunting for a QB again next May.

The truth will probably land somewhere uncomfortably in the middle. And it will fill my phone lines on the radio for not just months, but likely, years.

I want to re-iterate, lest anyone think I’m just being a “sore-loser” on staking so much on RG3’s comeback and season sans Shanny, that I am HUGE Kirk Cousins fan now. Huge. Maybe this kid IS special. I would happily wear the dunce cap and sit in the corner if his future brilliance ends up parallelling the Brady-for-Bledsoe plot twist everybody watched in New England.

But aside from the short-lived sugar high of beating the stuffing out of the Jags and Chad Henne, this was a disaster as big as the blown out knee in the Seattle game. Maybe bigger.

At least following that game, nobody was wondering who the starter should be.

7 COMMENTS

  1. This is probably the worst situation for the franchise with both Cousins and Griffin in their 3rd year. Biggest thing I saw from Kirk and watching the all-22 of the Texans game. Kirk will throw the ball with anticipation to where and when the WR will break usually before he has. Look at the throw to Grant in the endzone that was incomplete. Kirk threw the ball into a triangle of defender because he knew when and where Grant should be, if Grant had managed to Get to his spot on the field, it was a TD between 3 defenders.

    With Griffin he doesn’t anticipate very well at all, he needs to “see” it before he throws and in the NFL usually by that time against zone (where Griffin struggles) it is too late. Now IMO that is something that can be “fixed” but in a young player that like you mention was brought here for a huge ransom there is very little patience especially after winning a division title year one.

    I still support Griffin and really enjoy having a guy like Cousins back there, but Cousins is 1-3 as a starter and before Griffin got hurt it was looking like he was gonna slice up the Jaguar secondary as they are a man coverage heavy team and Griffin can throw the ball vs man.

  2. Steve,
    Your insight is spot on. Once the sugar high of the thirty-one point victory wore off, I realized that the RG3 era is probably over before it started just like a shooting star. Like you, I am a huge Cousin’s fan, and I hope he is a viable option for the future. But unfortunately, if he isn’t we are back to square one at the most important position in this modern NFL. Also, Mike WIse of the Washington Post wrote an article that said the dirty secret at Redskins Park is that Jay Gruden believes Cousins not RG3 is best suited to run his offense successfully. Coach Jay can’t verbalize this because of the political implications in the organization.

  3. For the goddamned last time–the Skins DID NOT GIVE UP THREE FIRST ROUND PICKS FOR GRIFFIN! TRADEDE PLOACES, GAVE UP TWO. MORON!

    • True: The Redskins gave up 2 first rounders and a second rounder simply to MOVE UP to take Griffin. Then they used that traded pick to take Griffin. I look at the selection of Griffin in terms of pure cost: For example: Andrew Luck “cost” the Colts ONE first round pick. That’s his “cost” to the team. One. Griffin “cost” the Redskins FOUR picks total. Four. That’s his cost. One to pick him, 3 more to move up. Very expensive. In fact, the trade was evaluated (according to those NFL value charts, for what they are worth) as the MOST “expensive” of any picks-for-picks trade in NFL draft history.

  4. Kirk Cousins turnover rate: 11.4 touches per turnover. RG3 turnover rate: 26.7 touches per turnover. Touches are passing plays, scrambles, sacks, qb runs. Cousins turns the ball over twice as often as Griffin. This information comes from Bill Barnwell.

    Griffin’s ANY/A is 6.39 while Cousins is 5.04. Griffin is 20% above league average while Cousins is 25% below league average. Even considering just his ‘bad’ year last year, Griffin was still a league average QB in all regards, while he showed the potential to be a top 10 in his first year. QB play by young QBs tends to be highly variable, and Griffin has shown a very high ceiling that indicates a strong possibility of being a high-caliber starter. Cousins has demonstrated, in admittedly a fairly small sample size, that he is most likely a good backup, but a backup nonetheless. Griffin, in a vacuum, is by far the superior quarterback.

    Here are screenshots of all the completions by Cousins against the Jaguars. On maybe two completions are there any defenders within 4 yards of the targeted receiver. I think most backup QBs could make those passes every bit as efficiently as Cousins.
    http://imgur.com/a/2o2rp#6

    With Griffin I think Washington had a chance to take the relatively weak NFC east. With Cousins I do not think this will be possible. Every other team in the division is going to have good to great offenses and Washington’s defense will not be able to pick up the slack of a missing Griffin.

    I think a good comparison of this situation is Cassel coming in for Brady in 2008. Cassel had a Ferrari offense and his stats reflected that; he was a backup in a dang good offense. Cousins will do much the same, he’s a backup driving the Cadillac Washington offense and his stats will be suspect because of this. The Washington offense will make Cousins look just good enough to ‘vindicate’ the Cousins faction of Redskins fandom but if he were to be somehow traded to the Chiefs this offseason (a la Cassel) and Alex Smith is somehow gone, he will look about as good as Cassel did with the Chiefs.

    In my opinion, I think the Redskins ought to just give up on Griffin and see what value they can get for him on the trade market. Keep Cousins as a backup and find a QB in the draft that you can build around (without spending 4, 5, 9 picks to get him). Those draft picks traded for Griffin are just gone, sunk cost, and there is no way you can make them good by keeping with Griffin. He is a bust for Washington, but may well be good for someone else. Good organizations get rid of shitty investments as soon as is practicable upon discovering the shittyness of said investments. It is a damn shame, but it is what it is.

  5. And I think it is interesting to add that had Washington kept their picks they could have had Tannehill at #6 overall in 2012. Tannehill has shown himself to be durable. The Dolphins are not very good, but he has put up average stats for them, so there is some reason to believe that he is a viable top 15 starting QB material. Just think of the Redskins with Tannehill plus three other high draft picks (presumably defense or oline).

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