Washington Redskins: RG3 Struggles, Kirk Cousins Shines vs. Chicago Bears
Cue the controversy.
Not really. But don't be surprised if those articles, blogs and tweets start surfacing if Robert Griffin III has another poor showing while Kirk Cousins lights up the scoreboard. This is the fickle world of sports we live in, driven by fanatics on social media and news outlets looking for ratings.
Remember how things were blown up during the draft? Sure, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen could have used that pick for another positional need. I totally get that.
At the same time, Rex Grossman is horrible, and John Beck didn't prove much of anything last season either.
It wasn't a quarterback controversy then and it isn't one now. The only question now is whether or not Cousins will be slotted at No. 2. Considering the way the rookie played and the fact Grossman didn't get a snap, that certainly isn't out of the realm of possibilities.
But enough about controversies. Let's talk performances.
Robert Griffin III started the game and played through the entire first half, going 5-of-8 passing for 49 yards. He had more yards in just three series versus the Buffalo Bills last week. But the Bills' defense isn't exactly the Bears', either.
Griffin didn't have space or time to work most of the night, as his protection was continually collapsed by the blitzing Chicago front lines. By the time he dropped back the defense was on his heels, forcing him out of the pocket on multiple occasions.
A prime example of that would be on the Griffin fumble late in the first quarter. He faked the handoff to Alfred Morris, turned around and was immediately greeted by Major Wright and Israel Idonije. He shook Wright, but lost his footing and was popped from behind by Idonije.
Obviously, he tried to do too much and should have tucked it instead of fighting the force of gravity. A lesson learned.
Though I put a lot of blame on the blocking of the offensive line, RG3 wasn't without error. There were times he should have stepped up in the pocket instead of scrambling—a common issue for rookie quarterbacks with wheels.
It hasn't yet been ingrained in their heads that they can't elude NFL defenders the way they did in college. Fortunately, RG3 is an intelligent young man and has two more preseason games to work it out of his system.
Griffin was sacked three times and rushed for 17 yards on three attempts. He never turned on the afterburners, but we caught a glimpse of the burst at the end of his 14-yard hustle.
I'm still trying to decide if I'm excited or scared when I see him run.
I know I love to watch him throw, though. His motion is so smooth and effortless on any pass. He's also usually very precise, but he was off the numbers most of the night.
In the end, his performance wasn't great, but it wasn't as horrible as some will make it out to be. After all, we will have a whole week to blow it completely out of proportion.
While you're being pounded over the head with quarterback controversy and Griffin's inability to adapt to the NFL defenses, remember there were a lot of factors in those poor stat lines and it doesn't all fall on the shoulders of the Redskins' franchise quarterback.
For their soon-to-be-second-string quarterback Kirk Cousins, it was a very different story.
With the exception of a 54-yard field goal that went wide left and a fumble by Antwon Bailey, the Redskins scored on every drive with Cousins under center. That included a clutch drive with just over four minutes left in the game.
He marched the team 85 yards down the field in seven plays to put Washington on top 31-30. Unfortunately, the only mistake he made was leaving too much time on the clock for this defense to collapse against Chicago's fourth-string quarterback.
Robbie Gould would eventually kick a 57-yard field goal to put the Bears over the top, 33-31.
It was a great night for Cousins, though. He and Aldrick Robinson certainly helped each other out, connecting on six passes for 104 yards and a 49-yard touchdown. Cousins is getting closer to leapfrogging Grossman and Robinson just might have found a spot on the receiving corps.
Cousins also helped out Dezmon Briscoe, who finished behind Robinson with 51 yards and a touchdown.
There may not be a quarterback controversy in Washington, but if Cousins keeps this up he's going to make it hard on Shanahan to pick his receivers. And easy on him to choose his second-string quarterback.
Cousins was sharp all night long, getting the ball out very fast and on target. Those were the things Griffin was unable to do last night. But when talk of controversy starts flowing in, just remember to compare the level of competition each quarterback faced.
Neither performance should be blown out of proportion.
There are highs and lows with every rookie quarterback. Cousins had his interception last week and Griffin had a fumble this week. Both will have two more games to show their Jekyll and their Hyde.
As long as they have more Jekyll in them than Rex, I can live with their rookie mistakes.
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