While you would think a player who won the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year award two years ago would feel safe about his job security, the NFL preseason can make you believe some crazy things.
Numbers Never Lie points out that Cousins has been outplaying his teammate so far:
FYI: In the NFL preseason, Robert Griffin III's passer rating is 46.0 while backup Kirk Cousins is 101.6.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) August 25, 2014
Griffin has completed 65 percent of his passes, but he has yet to throw a touchdown and has two interceptions. He has also looked awkward while running the football, mostly due to his inability to slide.
Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann advocated for Cousins to start thanks to his strong recent play, via SportsCenter:
Of course, it is important to take the statistics in context. Griffin has been competing against first-team opponents on a small sample size, whereas Cousins has mostly been competing against second- and third-stringers. This certainly makes it easier to succeed.
The reality is that Griffin is a better quarterback now and one better suited to help the team going forward. This is why Pete Prisco of CBS Sports becomes the voice of reason:
People actually think Kirk Cousins should start over RGIII? Are you kidding?— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) August 25, 2014
In 2012, Griffin showed why he was selected with the No. 2 pick of the draft. The former Heisman winner had an impressive 102.4 quarterback rating as an efficient passer while also totaling 815 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
According to Pro Football Reference, he tied for the most added value to his team for anyone in the league.
Unfortunately, knee surgery at the end of the season slowed his development. Throughout 2013, he looked tentative in the pocket while also being unable to use his great running ability. He was not terrible, but it certainly was a drop-off from his first year in the league.
Who should start at quarterback for the Redskins?
On the other hand, Cousins was much worse when he did get onto the field. In five games, the backup managed just a 58.2 passer rating while throwing seven interception to four touchdowns. He only completed 52.3 percent of his passes and lost all three of his starts.
While it was a limited opportunity to shine, the former Michigan State standout did not take advantage of this chance.
Griffin not only has been better than his counterpart in real games, he also has much higher upside. When healthy, his scrambling ability is among the best in the league. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com also saw his great passing ability at times during the preseason:
RG3 can throw an effortless deep ball. That was pretty.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 19, 2014
This is why Jay Gruden does not believe there is a real quarterback controversy, via NFL.com:
Gruden rejects the notion of a QB controversy http://t.co/VFj0ul14D6— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) August 25, 2014
Even Cousins admitted, "Robert is the starting quarterback. I’m the backup quarterback. And I’m going to try to be the best backup quarterback I can be," via Liz Clarke of the Washington Post.
He has the ability to be as good of a backup as there is in this league, but there is no way the Redskins are better off with him under center.
Conversely, Griffin still has the potential to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. He has the ability to make plays with his arm and his legs, he just needs more time to improve his decision-making. If everything goes right, he could legitimately be an MVP candidate.
Washington cannot give up on the third-year quarterback after a down year and a weak preseason when we all know he is capable of so much more.
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