As if things weren't already upended enough around the Washington Redskins franchise — controversial name, new head coach, same old owner — we can now add "budding quarterback controversy" to the mix.
The Redskins played local rival Baltimore in a Saturday night preseason game, and one Washington quarterback was markedly better than the other. Granted, Robert Griffin III played against the Ravens' first-team defense and backup Kirk Cousins was in against the junior varsity, but even so, Cousins' performance was enough to prompt Washington legend Joe Theismann to wander out onto a treacherous, possibly treasonous limb.
“Let’s stop beating around the bush,” Theismann said while announcing the game, per the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg. “Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now, Robert is learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn’t look as smooth or as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know."
That's the kind of heresy that could make a man who works for the Redskins Broadcast Network disappear. But Theismann enjoys untouchable status amongst the Redskins faithful. So it's notable that the most rah-rah of Redskins supporters might be angling in a different direction from the mainstream.
"If there was a quarterback competition, it wouldn’t be a competition," Theismann said, recognizing that the starting QB job is RG3's without question. Even so, he noted, Griffin fails the optics test.
“Your eyes don’t lie to you," Theismann said. "Robert has struggled in the limited opportunities that he has had. And Kirk Cousins has seized the opportunities that he has had when it comes to playing the position and understanding the offense."
Theismann noted that Cousins is more of a pocket passer in the mold of Andy Dalton (which was not meant as a criticism, honest). Griffin's more improvisational and mobile style can disrupt a defense when everyone's in tune, but it can disrupt an offense if anyone's out of sync.
Naturally, this is all red meat for sports talk radio in the nation's capital, so expect plenty of chatter about Griffin-or-Cousins in the coming weeks. The Redskins had dangled Cousins during the offseason, seeking a second-round draft pick for him, but pulled him off the market in February, either because there was no interest or because the team realized that a solid backup for an injury-prone Griffin isn't a terrible idea.
Washington plays Houston in Week 1. If that game doesn't go well for the team, it's going to get uglier around FedEx Field. And we didn't think that was possible.
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