Washington Redskins: Cousins' Performance Reveals 2012 Draft Flaws

Matt PresentContributor IOctober 9, 2012

Kirk Cousins drops back to pass after replacing Robert Griffin III in Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons
Kirk Cousins drops back to pass after replacing Robert Griffin III in Sunday's game against the Atlanta FalconsLarry French/Getty Images

When quarterback Robert Griffin III was forced to leave Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons late in the third quarter with a mild concussion, the Redskins were forced to resort to backup quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins, also a rookie, was selected as the seventh pick in the fourth round (102nd overall).

Many people, including myself, questioned the pick of Cousins, as it did not seem to make sense to pick two rookie quarterbacks in the same year, especially when Griffin was going to be the undisputed starter.

However, Cousins played well in the preseason, but once the regular season started, most fans forgot about the Michigan State grad, and turned their undivided attention to the Heisman-winner from Baylor.

Griffin has been superb, and in the minds of many, the favorite to win NFL Rookie of the Year just five games into the season. He has a quarterback rating of 101.0 and has thrown for over 1,100 yards.He has also accounted for eight of the Redskins' touchdowns this season, four through the air and four on the ground.

But when he took a shot from Falcon’s Will Witherspoon on third-and-goal with 6:22 remaining in the third quarter, Redskins fans held their breath as he stayed down after the play.

Griffin would not return, and the reins were given to Cousins, who threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss on his first NFL drive, taking advantage of the Falcon’s blown coverage.

However, Cousins’ performance went downhill from there. Cousins seemed uncomfortable in the pocket, like he was unable to feel the pressure coming, and was waiting for routes down-field to develop instead of hitting open receivers underneath. He threw two costly interceptions, which prevented the Redskins from mounting a comeback.


Thankfully for the Redskins, the injury to Griffin was minor, and they expect him to be back for Sunday’s matchup with the Vikings.

However, the threat that Griffin could go down again is a very real one, and it would be nice to have a veteran to turn to. Griffin has been compared to Eagles quarterback Michel Vick in his aggressive style of play, and Vick has never played more than 12 games in an NFL season.

That said, Griffin is more conservative than Vick in terms of avoiding contact; however his relatively small build increases the risk of injury.

When drafting a rookie quarterback, a team is likely trying to accomplish one of two things: One, they are drafting a quarterback who is going to immediately become the teams starter (Griffin), or two, they are picking a quarterback for the future who can develop while learning under the current starter (Aaron Rodgers with Brett Favre).

Cousins does not accomplish either of these goals, and with a team with depth issues on the offensive line, and a weak pass defense, Cousins was a rather worthless pick.

To make matters worse, the Redskins traded next year’s first-round pick, as well as a first-rounder in 2014 to the Rams, in order to take Griffin with the second pick in the draft.

This means that the Redskins will have to improve their pass defense and o-line depth through trades and free agency, as opposed to through the draft.

I believe that it is in the Redskins best interest to go out and sign another quarterback to back up RGIII. This would not only be an insurance plan for the Skins, but a veteran would also be able to mentor Griffin and help him improve his game.

The Redskins should then cut Rex Grossman, the third stringer, who started the majority of games for the Skins last season, and perhaps see if they can get some trade value for Cousins.

The two players who immediately come to mind for the role are longtime Jaguars quarterback David Garrard and Jon Kitna, whose 14-year career included a mixture of starter and backup experience. Most recently he played 10 games for the Dallas Cowboys in 2010, throwing for over 2,300 yards and 16 touchdowns, when Tony Romo went down with a collarbone injury.

Kitna would be effective since he has played under a variety of systems, starting for the Seahawks, Bengals and Lions, but is comfortable with the role of a backup. Garrard was first a backup, then a starter in Jacksonville, and would be beneficial to RGIII in that he is a closer match to Griffin’s style of play.

Regardless, I think making such a move would really provide the Redskins with stability, not just for this year, but moving forward as the Redskins develop into a contender.

The Skins have for the most part had very high draft success under Mike Shanahan, getting big names such as Griffin, Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo, as well as Alfred Morris, who has been a diamond in the rough.

However, moving forward, Shanahan needs to address the team’s biggest weaknesses, instead of just picking the best available players.