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Need to Know: Plenty of variables in Redskins QB situation

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Need to Know: Plenty of variables in Redskins QB situation

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 230, four days before the Redskins host the Eagles.

Question of the day

There are a lot of variables in the quarterbacks situation, rendering any prediction on if a change would be made from a healthy Cousins to Griffin is at best a guess. But let’s see if we can plough through some of the factors that Jay Gruden would have to consider.

First, I’m not so sure it’s fair to say that Cousins is “playing poorly”. He is more in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories. Sure, he has throw four interceptions, more than Jay Gruden would like. But eight quarterbacks, a fourth of the starters in the league, have thrown four or more picks this year.

But for our purposes here where he stands in comparison to the rest of the league is not as important as where he stands on the team. Could Griffin protect the ball better? To isolate one game, Cousins has received a great deal of criticism for throwing those two interceptions against the Giants. But he was forced to throw 49 passes. Griffin has thrown 49 or more times in a game twice. He was picked off twice in one of them and once in the other.

The disappointing game in the Meadowlands was just one game. Let’s look at the Dolphins game, when things were going better than they were against New York. Cousins was intercepted twice in 31 pass attempts. Griffin has attempted between 30 and 32 passes five times in his career. He threw five interceptions in those games including a pair or two-interception games. So Griffin is capable of having a similarly disappointing outing if he throws a similar number of attempts.

Setting aside the turnovers and expanding the view to career numbers, Griffin is slightly more accurate than Cousins (career completion percentage 63.9 Griffin, 61.1 Cousins) and he has a somewhat higher average yards per attempt (Griffin 7.6, Cousins 7.3). But Griffin gets sacked far more often (Griffin 8.7% of dropbacks, Cousins 3.7%), negating any advantage that Griffin has when passing. When you factor in yards lost on sacks, the offense gains an average of 6.3 yards every time Griffin drops back to pass compared to 6.7 for Cousins.

So, at the moment, there really is no evidence that Griffin would necessarily produce better than Cousins if he was in at quarterback under the same circumstances. But, with a few more games like the one against the Giants, where Cousins not only had the interceptions but also missed open receivers (notably Jordan Reed twice in the end zone), Gruden could feel the need to make a QB switch.

But would the change be to Griffin? Let’s say the Redskins stumble to 1-5 under Cousins and are out of any realistic playoff contention. What would there be to gain by risking the $16 million option guarantee if Griffin was to get injured badly enough to be unable to pass a physical in March of next year?

I think that if the season is lost and a quarterback change is made, the player under center would be Colt McCoy. Not because he’s the second best quarterback on the team—he’s not, he’s third by a clear margin—but because the risk of using Griffin, given his high sack rate, is greater than the reward.

Have we necessarily seen the last of Griffin? No, there could be some scenarios where an injury while the Redskins are still in playoff contention could open the door for one more chance for RG3. And, as I noted at the top of the post here, there are a lot of variables in play and an organization that can be unpredictable in its action. So while logic says that the RG3 era is over in DC, the reality could be a different outcome.

Have a question you'd like me to answer? Hit me up on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN or at Facebook.com/RealRedskins.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:45; Jay Gruden, Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Falcons 11; Redskins @ Jets 18

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.