On August 31, the Redskins made a move that nobody thought they would make, at least not two weeks before the season was to start. They benched quarterback Robert Griffin III and moved Kirk Cousins into the starting job.
“It’s Kirk’s team,” said Jay Gruden when he announced the change.
The decision was not an easy one to make. Although Gruden ultimately had the authority to pull the trigger on the switch, it was best to get the franchise’s other major decision makers on board. According to a report in the Washington Post, Gruden, GM Scot McCloughan, team president Bruce Allen, and owner Dan Snyder came to a consensus on the decision based on two main points:
“—Cousins gave the Redskins a better chance to win in 2015 than Griffin, whose struggles in Gruden’s timing-based offense were increasingly evident.
—And Gruden risked losing credibility with the team if he continued to preach competition and award starting jobs to the victors at every position except quarterback.”
The first point is debatable. The Redskins did not win any of the four games that Cousins started and finished last year. But they won only one of Griffin’s start-to-finish efforts so his case is also weak based on recent history.
There wasn’t a traditional quarterback competition at camp with the candidates rotating snaps with the first team during OTAs and training camp. But the job was up for grabs, with Griffin’s work with the starting offense going up against the front-line defense being compared to Cousins’ play with and against backups.
We will see how it plays out. Although the franchise principles all reportedly buy in to the decision to start Cousins, Gruden owns it. And his job security may depend on it.