Neither RG III nor Cousins is answer for Redskins
(Note: This article has been updated to reflect the news that Kirk Cousins will be Washington’s Week 1 starter, not Robert Griffin III.)
The proverbial rain cloud that has hovered above Robert Griffin III since shortly after the end of his spectacular rookie season in 2012 is once again getting darker. He was in line to begin this season as the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback, but following his preseason concussion, and backup Kirk Cousins’ impressive play, it appears as though he’ll be starting the regular season on the bench.
The fact is that whichever of these two QBs earned the starting gig was unlikely to man that role all season long – that’s how inconsistent both have been. Let’s compare the two:
–RG III won the 2012 offensive rookie of the year award in very impressing fashion, ranking as our No. 1 QB in accuracy under pressure and No. 9 in passing grade. However, Griffin has been unable to replicate that success on a consistent basis. While he still possesses impressive accuracy when throwing from a clean pocket, his composure under pressure has taken a hit. After grading at +5.2 under pressure in 2012, RG III has posted back-to-back years worse than -8.9 – those are really bad numbers.
–Cousins has been a curious case himself. Drafted two rounds after RG III, many questioned the move by the Redskins’ brass. When RG III went down with an injury during the closing stretches of 2012, Cousins stepped in and put together two great games, grading at a very impressive +5.0. When Griffin struggled with his consistency in 2013 and then-coach Mike Shanahan infamously benched RG III for health reasons, Cousins flopped — posting four straight games of negative grades.
After Griffin got injured in Week 2 of the 2014 season, Cousins was electric in relief, posting an outstanding +8.2 passing grade. But then he followed up with a -6.9 the very next game, and more poor performances after that, leading to his being benched for Colt McCoy (he wasn’t any good in our grading system, either).
In summary, neither player instills confidence that he can be the long-term answer at the position for Washington. Griffin at least provides hope in terms of his upside, having proven previously that he can perform at an elite level, whereas Cousins has only shown flashes. Cousins has never come close Griffin’s accuracy numbers, and performing well in the preseason, as he has this year, doesn’t equal regular-season success.
That’s why it’s fair to argue that RG III winning the starting job is better for the Redskins, but in all likelihood, if indeed it is Cousins who ends up starting Week 1, he won’t keep the job for the whole season.