After Late-Season Heroics, What Do Redskins Do with Cousins When RG3 Returns?

Gary DavenportNFL AnalystDecember 16, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 16:  Quarterback Kirk Cousins #12 of the Washington Redskins throws a pass as he is pressured by linebacker Kaluka Maiava #56 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The Washington Redskins are riding quite the hot streak of late, and after winning their fifth game in a row Sunday by downing the Cleveland Browns, the team now sits somewhere it never could have realistically expected to be this late in the season.

Tied for first place in the NFC East.

However, not only did this week's 38-21 win keep the Redskins on track for a postseason trip this year, but it also raised some interesting prospects for Washington's future.

With rookie phenomenon Robert Griffin III sidelined by a knee injury, backup quarterback (and fellow rookie) Kirk Cousins was thrust into the spotlight and under the microscope of his first career start in a must-win game.

Cousins rose to the occasion and then some, completing 26 of 37 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Given how well Cousins played, there's a question just sort of hanging in the air.

If the kid really is that good, then what do the Redskins do with him now?

Now, before anyone starts rolling their eyes or preparing to verbally disembowel me in the comments section, let's get one thing straight.

RG3, when healthy, is the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. I know it, you know it, and Kirk Cousins' mama knows it.

Although, I will wager that after Sunday's performance, the urgency to get Griffin back on the field for next week's game against a 4-10 Philadelphia Eagles team decreased by approximately eight million percent.

The question becomes, do the Redskins keep Cousins in their pocket as that most valuable of bench commodities; the viable backup quarterback (and a young one, no less)?

Or, does the team capitalize on the leverage that this late surge has generated and consider flipping Cousins to one of the number of quarterback-needy teams that are bound to come sniffing around in the offseason?

Honestly, it wouldn't even be an issue, but the Redskins are a team with a dearth of both cap space due to league-mandated penalties and draft picks after they mortgaged the future to acquire the draft pick that landed Griffin.

An early pick (or two) could be awfully tempting to the Washington front office.

However, it's a temptation that they need to resist. As talented as Griffin is, and as exciting as he is to watch, Griffin's playing style (much like Michael Vick's before him) lends him to placing himself in situations where he takes a lot of punishment.

Sure, you'd like to see Griffin add a bit more discretion to his valor, but you also don't want him to overly curb one of the things that makes him such a dangerous quarterback to begin with.

You can't ask a tiger to stop being a tiger, even if it means that the tiger occasionally gets clobbered by Haloti Ngata.

So, if you know that your quarterback is occasionally going to hit "tiger mode" and possibly get his bell rung for his trouble, it's probably not a bad idea to have a young backup waiting in the wings who can win you football games.

Just like Kirk Cousins did on Sunday.