Can the Washington Redskins Trust Kirk Cousins in Place of Robert Griffin III?
The bad news is it seems there's a chance the Washington Redskins might be without superstar rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III for all or part of the home stretch as Washington looks to sneak into the playoffs for the first time in over half a decade.
The good news is this team has become used to working with a rookie quarterback, so swapping out Griffin for Kirk Cousins might not be apocalyptic for the Redskins.
Cousins, who was selected exactly 100 spots behind Griffin in April's draft (causing some controversy in the process), stepped in for RG3 in the fourth quarter Sunday, and he didn't just manage the offense en route to victory, but he led the 'Skins to their fourth consecutive win.
Cousins only threw the ball three times, and one of those passes was wiped out due to a defensive penalty. But he made the most of the two throws that counted.
The Michigan State product relieved the injured Griffin in a bad spot, facing a second-and-20 on the Baltimore 26 and needing eight points to force overtime. But all it took was two throws and a sneak on the convert and Cousins made it look easy.
First, on a play in which everyone in the stadium knew the rookie would have to drop back and throw, Cousins took no time to find an open Leonard Hankerson, throwing a 15-yard dart to the receiver to set up a third-and-manageable with the game on the line.
Of course, Cousins would also step up on the two-point conversion, taking a designed draw into the end zone to tie it. The most important aspect of that play was that it was called by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who is clearly very confident in Cousins' ability to make plays, not just be a custodian.
The sample size is uncomfortably small, but early indications are good that Cousins can come close enough to replacing the irreplaceable RG3 that it won't cost the 'Skins any games. He might not be a track star, but he's mobile. He might not have Griffin's missile, but he has a cannon. And he's the type of quarterback that won't force the rest of the offense to make drastic changes when he's in for RG3. That, of course, is a big reason why Mike Shanahan drafted him.
He can impact games in a large way. Two of his first seven complete passes have been touchdowns, while two of his first four incomplete passes have been intercepted. He's all-or-nothing, which is scary but probably necessary in D.C.
Yes, he made a terrible decision on that first pick he threw against Atlanta...
Cleveland also ranks in the top half of the league in terms of opponent passer rating, yards per attempt and passing touchdowns. They've won three straight overall and had eight takeaways against the Steelers a few weeks ago.
The good news is only six teams have given up more 20-plus-yard completions, so there might be opportunities for Cousins to make some more big plays, too.
This team can't win if the bad outweighs the good at the quarterback position. But they probably can't win if they get no spark at all under center. The fact is that they clearly trust Cousins to provide a replacement spark if needed. And because at this point none of us has the right to challenge the Shanahans for the decisions they've made and the instincts they've followed in their approach to the 2012 Redskins season, I'm willing to bet that a temporary switch to Cousins won't hurt this team.
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