COMMENTARY | After a mere two weeks, desperation has already crept into the minds of Washington Redskins fans. Who can blame them? The team looked absolutely abysmal in their first two games. That desperation, however, has led some fans and analysts to call for a pretty drastic move to change things up.
"I'm gonna put the question out there: why not stick no. 12 out there, who is healthy?" asked Comcast SportsNet host Chick Hernandez referring to Cousins.
"You didn't draft Kirk Cousins just to sit there and not use him at all," said former Redskin Brian Mitchell .
You can just imagine what people on Twitter had to say.
Fans are understandably upset through two games because the team has not looked competitive at all. After the unending drama of the preseason, when Robert Griffin III was finally cleared to play everyone thought he would be the same dynamic playmaker from last season. So far he has not lived up to those expectations.
With all due respect to those notable detractors mentioned above, benching Griffin would be a huge mistake.
Anyone watching him play could tell you that Griffin does not look comfortable, but he has been medically cleared to play. There is nothing wrong with his knee. The fact that he is not planting with his lead foot or following through on this throws has been well documented at this point, but the problem is not physical, it is mental.
Griffin was first presented with the physical hurdle of rehabbing his knee. Now he must face the mental hurdle of not letting fear of injury affect his play. That mental block will not get better on the sideline or at practice; it can only get better with playing time. Only after a few games where he is able to pick himself up after getting hit and players are falling around his legs can he finally be his normal self again.
The offensive miscues that we have seen are troubling, but these are the result of Griffin not practicing or playing with the offense enough. Again, the more time Griffin spends on the field, the better this offense will begin to flow. Taking him off the field would be counter-intuitive.
Benching Griffin also would not address the many other problems contributing to the Redskins' embarrassing start. He does not play defense, punt, or kick field goals. The defense has been laughably atrocious thus far, having allowed 1023 yards in two games. Punter Sav Rocca had a 25 yard punt against Green Bay. Kicker Kai Forbath missed his only field goal attempt of the season in Week 1 and John Potter missed his attempt badly win Week 2.
Don't pretend the quarterback position is the only problem; it's not. Benching Griffin will not help if the play at other positions does not improve as well.
What is especially important to realize is that benching Griffin would not be seen by him as a move for his benefit, but a changing of the guard. This is the guy who pushed to play in the preseason, do you actually think this 23 year old would accept being benched for real games? It seems ironic that the same market that examined whether there was tension between head coach Mike Shanahan and Griffin would advocate benching him in favor of Cousins.
Yeah, that won't negatively affect their relationship.
How could the Redskins justify this move to Griffin? They can't claim it is to protect him; he has been medically cleared to play. The moment they tell him that Cousins gives them a better chance to win, the bridge between Shanahan and Griffin will be forever burned just as you knew Donovan McNabb's days were numbered the moment he was benched in favor of Rex Grossman.
Also, consider this. Griffin fought to play in the preseason and now the offense looks totally out of sync. Most people would now agree the offense needed time in the preseason to prepare for 2013. Pulling Griffin now would be a huge sting to Griffin because he likely feels that if Shanahan allowed him to play in the preseason he would not be in this mess.
To say Cousins should play because he gives the team a better chance of winning this season is incredibly short-sighted. This season does not exist in a vacuum where the team can try to win by whatever means necessary without affecting their future. Benching Griffin would be the beginning of the end of his tenure in DC and the beginning of Cousins'. Cousins has been very good, but it is too early to give up on the franchise player.
After what he did last season, he has at the very least earned the chance to play out of this slump. It would be nice if the rest of the team could play out of theirs too.
JJ Regan is earning a master's degree in journalism at American University and is a current freelancer for Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Follow him on Twitter @TheDC_Sportsguy
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