ATLANTA--We know that Mike Shanahan is a big fan of Kirk Cousins. He drafted the quarterback in the fourth round in 2012 and immediately made him the backup to top pick Robert Griffin III. When Griffin faltered in 2013, Shanahan benched the reigning offensive rookie of the year. The given reason was to keep Griffin from getting injured in a meaningless late-season game but there was also an element of curiosity about what Cousins could do as a starter.
The three Cousins starts turned out to be the last three games with Shanahan at the helm of the Redskins. He was fired the day after the season ended and has been consistent in praising Cousins ever since. Some of the building up of Cousins is sincere but some of it undoubtedly stems from a desire to rebuild his own reputation. Getting a consistent Pro Bowl quarterback with a fourth-round pick is a good line on a resume if you want to get back into the NFL.
Cousins a consistent Pro Bowl selection? Yes, that’s what Shanahan told ESPN 980 on Friday. “I go through each year. I go through 2012, 2013, 2014 and just starting this year. He’s getting a feel of the system, the team,” ShanHn told Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro via Clinton Yates of thePost. “He’s a guy that has the potential to be a Bro Bowl quarterback, year-in-year out.”
But wait, as they say, there’s more. “I think he’s a guy that can take your team and win a Super Bowl. And that’s the biggest compliment I can give somebody,” he said later in the radio hit. “Does this person have the ability, the ingredients, that if he has the right supporting cast on offense/defense and special teams, can he win you a Super Bowl. And I believe that Kirk Cousins has that ability.”
Uh, OK. I mean, Cousins is doing some good things managing games for the Redskins and he engineered key fourth-quarter drives in both of them. And he can get better, no question. But no objective observer sees someone like Brady, Manning, Brees in his prime, or even Flacco in Cousins. You never know what will happen but Cousins has miles and miles to go before he is in the class of QBs who have won or could win Super Bowls.
The purpose here is not to bash Cousins but to wonder why Shanahan is so effusive in his praise of him. On Pro Football Talk, Florio speculated that Shanahan wants to get an NFL coaching job and then try to sign Cousins away from the Redskins. Cousins is a free agent at the end of the season and he could wind up with another team.
The far-fetched part of Florio’s scenario is Shanny landing an NFL job. It would be hard to sell a 63-year-old coach who has won one playoff game since 1998 to an owner and a fan base. Even if he did manage to get a quarterback who maybe, possibly got a fairly competent quarterback in the fourth round.