“The Strong Silent Type”

Julian Dorey, Senior Writer

The Washington Redskins may have gotten just what the doctor ordered when Robert Griffin III went down with a nasty ankle injury back in week two. No pun intended.

With the franchise’s glorified enigma forced to the bench for at least half the season, his foil (and backup) Kirk Cousins has taken the reigns of the previously lackluster Washington offense.

Through almost two games of action, Cousins has transitioned seamlessly into first-year head coach Jay Gruden’s quarterback-savvy offense. With a whopping 105.8 passer rating, 677 yards passing, and a 5-1 touchdown-interception ratio, Cousins has already made a compelling case to be the Redskins’s permanent starter.

The negativity surrounding Griffin and his play only helps build Cousins’s case even more. Since Griffin and his remarkable athleticism took the league by storm two years ago, the former Heisman Trophy-winner has fallen into a pattern of below-average play. It is true that an ACL injury at the very end of his rookie season certainly affected his 2013 campaign and teams have slowly but surely exposed Griffin’s lack of positional acumen and his inability to be a pocket quarterback.

In his second season, Griffin led the Redskins to only three wins in 13 games and the holes in his game have blatantly come to light game after game. What’s worse is that Griffin has an ego that would make Muhammad Ali circa-1965 feel unworthy.

Unfortunately, Griffin isn’t a winning quarterback—let alone a world champion—so he has absolutely no room to speak and conduct himself the way he does. Many reports over the past year have indicated that the Washington locker room has very little respect for the arrogant Griffin, and many reports have all but confirmed that Griffin’s previous coaching staff headed by Mike Shanahan all got their walking papers last offseason because of their rift with the franchise’s golden boy.

If not for the Redskins known-blowhard owner, Dan Snyder, Griffin’s attitude would never be tolerated—and perhaps someone with real authority could have put him in place much earlier on.

The variable that drives Redskins fans crazy is that Griffin really does have all the talent in the world. Sure, the NFL isn’t a league where a quarterback can rely on his legs and moving around to win, but there still is a place in the game for proper quarterback mobility. Couple that with Griffin’s proven arm and lateral strength and you have the potential in place for a franchise quarterback.

Redskins fans may never see something like this come to fruition because Griffin is too stubborn, too concerned with his brand, doesn’t view his coaches as his superiors, and makes the Redskins money because of the enigmatic attention he draws to himself. Like always, Snyder is still an owner and owners are still businessmen at the end of the day.

Snyder does have a huge public perception problem. Whether it is his own mounting list of managerial failures or his archaic stance on his team’s racist nickname, Snyder has found himself at the bottom of the public’s and media’s collective fishing barrel since he bought the team. With a new, progressive coaching staff in place under Gruden, the Redskins’ locker room seems to finally have some order again, despite Griffin.

And now with Griffin out, his backup has clearly outplayed him, clearly gives the Redskins a better chance to win, and clearly has a better grip of Gruden’s offense. With Griffin’s history of friction with coaches and his continued public conceit, it is hard to believe he’ll finally drop his bad collegiate habits and turn a new leaf when he comes back from his injury.

Besides, Gruden has already begun his public politicking by offering way less than any kind of assurance that Griffin will get his job back when healthy. Cousins is coachable, quiet, confident, and smart—all things that a football lifer like Gruden has to love. From a pure football perspective, if Cousins continues to play anywhere near this current level and the Redskins are winning games, there is no reason on earth why Griffin should step back in down the road.

From an ownership perspective? We’ll see. You never know with Snyder. But the answer was clear to Redskins great Joe Theismann in the preseason: Cousins is better.

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