Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown nine passes all year. They all came against Denver after Robert Griffin III was knocked out of a blowout loss.
Griffin is a shell of what he was last season. That's not all his fault. He had no offseason to practice and get better as a quarterback. He's basically stuck in a second rookie year, with very little progress as a pocket quarterback still working in a simple offense, and defenses have caught up. Trying to make up for a deplorable Redskins defense hasn't helped Griffin, either.
Whatever the reason, Griffin hasn't been good this season. Most of his best moments have come in garbage time. He has thrown 11 interceptions after throwing five all of last season. Griffin struggled to break the 100-yard mark on Monday night, almost all of his completions came on quick screen passes, and he got punished all night in a bad 27-6 loss to the 49ers. He finished 11-of-27 for 127 yards, and the Redskins didn't score a touchdown.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is feeling all these losses too. The Redskins are 3-8, and it's fair to wonder if Shanahan will be back next season unless Washington shows something in December. But yet, Shanahan refuses to pull Griffin in favor of Cousins. He didn't do it on Monday night when it was obvious Griffin wasn't effective. He hasn't done it all season.
It's pretty curious why Shanahan hasn't used Cousins once this season over a healthy Griffin. He'd certainly be justified if he did.
Maybe Shanahan doesn't want to disrupt the tenuous relationship he has with Griffin, although if Shanahan doesn't win some games in the final five weeks it might not matter much. Maybe there's an order from ownership that he's not allowed to pull the face of the franchise, although that seems far-fetched. But it's tough to come up with a rational explanation for why Cousins hasn't gotten even one shot. It was a bit strange that he never got a few series in the fourth quarter on Monday night.
Shanahan is the same coach who, after a 7-2 start became 7-4 for the Broncos in 2006, yanked Jake Plummer out of the starting role for Jay Cutler. He's not afraid to make a bold move. But yet he stands on the sideline every week and watches Griffin run an ineffective offense with very little nuance and never turns to Cousins, who played well as a rookie last year.
Maybe he thinks that Griffin still gives the Redskins the best chance to win, because of his overall skill set. Or he doesn't want to go down that road of inviting a quarterback controversy into his locker room by making a change. Sometimes there's no turning back from that decision. Maybe he just feels like it's not the best move in the big picture to bench a guy who is the clear franchise quarterback, and worry about his confidence or how that move might go over in the locker room. All of those reasons make some sense.
But this Redskins season is beyond repair. The offense looks terrible. Griffin is having a very difficult second season. He isn't playing well and he's taking a lot of hits. His struggles, less than a year removed from ACL surgery, are understandable, and Griffin still has the potential to be a great NFL quarterback. But he just doesn't have it this season. That becomes more clear every week.
Would Cousins really be much worse at this point? It seems like we're not going to find out, at least this season.
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