WASHINGTON — Over the last week, there have been more changes in direction at Redskins Park than a triple reverse.
Robert Griffin III is too hurt to be the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. Or maybe he’s not.
Maybe he’s simply not good enough to be the starter. Maybe he is. Kirk Cousins isn’t starting Week 1. Until he is.
I doubt this was all intentional, but it’s pretty predictable. Perhaps the oft-dysfunctional Redskins have fallen victim to the perception of incompetence that has dogged this franchise for nearly two decades. Maybe they just took advantage of the opportunity to bench RG3 while a viable excuse is on the table.
Regardless of the reason, it’s the right call. This team can’t continue with #10 under center. I don’t care about talent and potential. That gets GMs and coaches fired. When I watch RG3 play football, I see a guy sinking in quicksand. Throw him a branch all you want, but the more he flails and squirms, the deeper he sinks.
No matter how you feel about Griffin, you’d be hard pressed to make a case that it was a good idea to name RG3 the starter way back in February. It poisoned the well both in the locker room and in public perception; players and outside observers alike know when a guy is getting a job because of his draft status versus when he’s earned it. Nobody who saw last year’s loss to Tampa could realistically think Griffin is the best QB on this roster, even with the same cast of characters returning.
He’s clearly earned the job. All he’s done this offseason is keep his head down, work hard, say the right things publicly, and play good football in the preseason. It’s glaringly obvious he has a better grasp of the offense and the huddle than Griffin, as evidenced by his gaudy 75.5 completion percentage and 103.9 QB rating.
(And don’t come at me with that “he looks good because he’s playing against backups” weak sauce. If you’re playing that well with second stringers against second stringers, then it stands to reason you can better Griffin’s paltry 54.6 QB rating with first stringers against first stringers. Just ask Mike Shanahan.)
Perhaps most importantly, Cousins isn’t drawing headlines. Griffin, on the other hand, is a divisive force. The relationship between the player and everyone not named Dan Snyder is largely toxic (and it’s the fault of virtually all parties involved), and Griffin has so badly regressed on the field that the other two QBs on the roster — Cousins and Colt McCoy — have vastly outplayed him this preseason.
Hopefully, McCloughan and Gruden don’t stop here. If real change is coming to Washington and this new regime is serious about flushing all the dysfunction and drama out of Ashburn, they have to get RG3 out of the locker room.
Forget a trade. Nobody’s paying him $3.2 million this year to be a backup and they damn sure won’t want to pay him $16.1 million in 2016. Not even the Jets are that crazy.
This divorce is inevitable. Snyder can try to force the two sides to stay together for the sake of the kids, but it’s not going to help anyone. Everyone needs a fresh start and the sooner it begins, the sooner both parties can heal.
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