ESPN.com's Mike Reiss stated over the weekend that Cousins, not Griffin, was the best quarterback on the field for the Washington Redskins as they practiced against the New England Patriots last week, and Reiss had Patriots sources to support that claim:
One of my biggest takeaways from Patriots-Redskins joint practices was surprise that Robert Griffin III didn’t look like the best quarterback on his own team. In fact, I thought Kirk Cousins was better than him, from the perspective of running the offense, fine-tuned mechanics and how decisively the ball came out of his hand. I wondered if I was alone, and then heard the same sentiment echoed by some others in the Patriots organization.
But aside from the fact that the Redskins should be encouraged that their insurance for RGIII is as strong as ever, the QBs' recent performances don't matter. Just ask Allen Iverson.
The reality is that some of the game's most electric players don't necessarily have the most fine-tuned fundamentals. But when you're as good as Griffin is on game days, you get a lot of rope.
Cousins was a solid 9-of-13 with a touchdown, no picks and a 7.9 yards-per-attempt average during Washington's preseason opener against the Pats, while Griffin seemed a bit shaky during a single series of work.
But first, it's important to note that we finished that above sentence with "a single series of work." The dude threw four passes, one of which came an inch from being a beautiful touchdown to Aldrick Robinson. And while the Patriots didn't use many starters, period, Griffin was still working against a chunk of their first-teamers. Cousins faced reserves.
Even if Cousins has been better against teammates (without contact) and opposing reserves three weeks into the year, that might only be an indication that he has grasped the new offense a little faster. No biggie. And truthfully, there's still too much stacked against him. He's in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he also hasn't done close to enough when the games have counted.
Cousins posted a dismal 58.4 passer rating in relief of Griffin this past December, which—if he qualified—would have ranked dead last in the NFL by a huge margin. He also tossed seven interceptions on only 155 pass attempts. That was a small sample size, and it counterbalanced some very solid performances during his rookie campaign, but there's no way the 'Skins can even consider making any changes for the short-term future.
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For Cousins to get a shot this season, Griffin would have to either get hurt or fall on his face in utterly dramatic fashion. What the Michigan State product does in the preseason and in practice could help inflate his trade value while also inspiring confidence within the organization that it has coverage in case Griffin goes down, but that's about it.
Fair or not, Griffin—arguably the largest investment in franchise history—should be locked in as the starter for the entire 2014 season, barring a complete disaster. That's how it must work when you invest four top-end draft picks in one player. The Redskins have gone all-in on the kid, and they've just started fresh after a tumultuous two-year run under Mike Shanahan. Now is not the time to show even the faintest indication that RGIII isn't their guy.