Latest from Redskins Park: ‘It’s Kirk’s team’

ASHBURN, Va. — The bizarre preseason for the Washington Redskins continued on Monday when Jay Gruden announced that he has named Kirk Cousins the Redskins quarterback for the 2015 season.

Gruden cites that Cousins has taken a “giant leap” in year two of the system and said Cousins won the job as opposed to Griffin losing it.

“I just think it’s not so much what somebody didn’t do,” Gruden said.  “It’s just what Kirk has done, and I think what he’s done in practice and OTAs has really opened our eyes, and he’s proven to be the best quarterback on our roster at this time, really.  It’s a compliment to Kirk, not so much the other guys didn’t do this, or didn’t do that. I just think Kirk has played so well that he has earned the right.”

It’s a bit crazy that we have ended up here after Gruden naming Griffin the starter in February. Griffin has taken all the first team reps throughout the off season and in training camp. Gruden was even planning on starting him last Saturday against the Ravens until the report came out that he hadn’t been cleared from the concussion.

“Well, he was going to start,” Gruden said of Griffin. “He was the starting quarterback at that time. We were going to bring Kirk in early in that game and give him a chance with the ones (starters).”

That was a nugget that took me by surprise — I didn’t expect to hear that.

Another quote that stood out to me during Gruden’s answer.

“Kirk has done everything in his power to be a supportive teammate, number one.  He’s never done anything behind anybody’s back.”

Now, that could mean absolutely nothing, but it was an odd choice of words.

Gruden says he’s not shutting the door on Griffin, and disputed reports that the team was planning on moving the fourth-year signal caller.

“Robert is a pro,” Gruden said. “We have a lot of respect for what he’s accomplished here. He’s done some great things. So, there’s been no discussions about letting him go or doing any of that stuff.”

The head coach said once Griffin is cleared of concussion protocol they will go forward and make a decision on who will back up Cousins.

Gruden, however, didn’t rule out Griffin being a distraction as a backup.

“You know it could be,” he said. “I think Kirk is strong enough to handle it and I know if there’s an incompletion or an interception there could be some chatter about ‘Put Robert in,’ or what have you.  But, we’re not worried about that.  We’re going to support Kirk in every way we can.”

Kirk feels that he has the support of the locker room and is definitely excited about the opportunity, but knows this is just the first piece of the puzzle.

“It’s a step in the process. It doesn’t feel like a finish line by means. I think the work is still ahead of us, obviously. Just a step in the process, and it’s one more reason to keep working.”

As far as the last few “wild days” for him?

“Welcome to quarterbacking in the NFL.”

What’s next for Griffin? Reports are that Dan Snyder will not block a potential trade.

“Mr. Snyder has been nothing but supportive of this football team and everything we’re doing moving forward,” said Gruden. “We kind of tell him what we’re thinking, how we’re feeling and he’s all for it.  All Mr. Snyder wants to do is win. That’s the bottom line, and there’s a lot of things being said that he’s pulling for this guy or this guy or that guy. That’s never been the case here.”

This comes as a change from his stance in the past, where all we’ve heard is that Snyder is the one still in Griffin’s corner and wasn’t ready to give up on the former Heisman Trophy winner.

If that’s the case, fine, but I don’t think there are going to be any teams willing to trade with the Redskins. Griffin’s contract is a major obstacle. The team picked up his fifth-year option for next year, only guaranteed for injury. That means the Redskins would be on the hook for $16 million if Griffin were to stay on this roster and get injured.

Personally, I don’t think there’s anyway you can keep Griffin on this team moving forward. It will be too much of a distraction and this team needs to focus on the field. They are coming off a 4-12 season and have a head coach that needs to prove he can hack it in the NFL. Jay Gruden is coaching for his job and now has the quarterback he feels is right for his system.  Time to go out and prove it.

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George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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