It’s time for Jay Gruden to make the biggest decision of his NFL coaching tenure.
For the sake of the Redskins—and their 2015 season—he must settle on a starting quarterback. And he needs to do it, like, yesterday, because his team can’t endure another drama-consumed week (or two) and start the regular season the way it wants. It’s too draining. It’s too distracting.
Now is the time to begin focusing on the Dolphins and that’s going to be a nearly impossible task if the staff and locker room aren’t united behind one quarterback.
If Robert Griffin III is going to reclaim the No. 1 job once he’s medically cleared, then say so. If it’s going to be Kirk Cousins, hand him the keys and let him take ownership. They deserve to know. Their teammates deserve to know.
Following Saturday night’s 31-13 victory in Baltimore, Gruden said he could make a decision on his Week 1 starter once Griffin is examined by doctors later this week. But when asked point blank if there’s a scenario in which a healthy Griffin would sit against Miami, he tap danced.
“We have to check on Robert first, and go from there,” Gruden said.
Sure, Griffin’s concussion clouds things a bit. I get that. But Gruden also seemed to indicate that the decision will not be solely based on Griffin’s health.
“I know what you’re trying to get out [of me] and all that,” the second-year coach said when pressed on the issue. “I’m not going to announce anything right now. First of all, I need to read [Griffin’s neurological] reports. These reports are confusing. We need to sit down and talk to all the players involved and make our decision. Meet as a staff and check out this film.”
He added: “Kirk played great. Colt [McCoy] played great. The offensive line played excellent. The defense got some turnovers. So I’m happy with the way with the way we played. The rest of this stuff will sort itself out shortly.”
It needs to be really shortly. Because after a day off Sunday, the Redskins will have only 13 days to get ready to host Ndamukong Suh and Miami.
Gruden also acknowledged Saturday night that the quarterback decision will be his to make, saying, “I’ve always been told that I have the final say on who plays quarterback, and I don’t think that’s changed.”
He already has enough information to make the decision.
The Redskins had more than a dozen OTA and minicamp practices this spring. They had 13 practices in Richmond, including three against J.J. Watt and the Texans. Griffin’s made two preseason starts—one went okay, the other went disastrously. Cousins, meanwhile, performed solidly in his only start against the Ravens. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective. Cousins rebounded from an early interception at M&T Bank Stadium, and the Redskins owned a 14-13 lead when he and the first team offense were pulled at halftime.
I don’t know what Gruden will ultimately choose. And I’m not making an argument for either player; that’s a column for another day.
But I am certain of this much: Allowing the quarterback question to linger (fester actually might be a better word here) would be a mistake. Gruden needs to tune out the noise and get his group focused and pulling in the same direction. And that’s not going to happen as long as there’s uncertainty at the most important position on the team.