Earlier this month, a few sentences from an ESPNBoston.com writer about Kirk Cousins’s play in practice briefly reignited the ol’ “Quarterback Controversy?!?” bonfire, a flame that has popped up pretty regularly since Robert Griffin III and Cousins arrived in D.C. Silly or not, it even got to the point where a reporter asked Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay which quarterback has been playing best this month. (McVay responded forcefully that all three quarterbacks are playing well, but that Griffin is and will remain the starter, duh.)
But the entire incident motivated ESPN 980 host and Washington radio analyst Chris Cooley to ask around the organization about Griffin, Cousins and third quarterback Colt McCoy. And his ensuing report was pretty interesting.
“We signed Colt McCoy for one reason: To be the backup quarterback for the Washington Redskins for an extended period of time behind Robert Griffin III,” Cooley reported.
And what does that mean for Cousins, the current backup?
“It means Cousins is not going to be here,” Cooley said. “It doesn’t mean Cousins doesn’t want to be here; it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be the starter here. It just means that with Robert Griffin III here, it’s not going to play out in favor of Kirk Cousins. Now, when they signed McCoy, they were definitely entertaining trading Kirk Cousins, and up until the draft, it was a viable option that they would trade Kirk Cousins; they just didn’t get the offer that they wanted.”
Cooley said there’s still a chance Cousins could be traded this season, but that if an acceptable deal doesn’t emerge he would remain here for another year. Cooley said he and many others in the organization are extremely fond of Cousins. But he said that Cousins, his agent and many people around the league believe that he is an NFL starter.
“He’s also, for whatever game you want to play, constantly going to be an issue for Robert,” Cooley said. “Robert might not care anymore; at some point we realized that yeah, he probably did care some. But if it’s talked about right now that he’s the better quarterback, do you want your starter feeling that? No.”
And so, that leads to McCoy, who would not create a similar situation.
“Colt McCoy was the guy out there that you thought he can be here for a long period of time,” Cooley said. “He can help with Robert’s growth, he can help Robert understand the game, he’s gonna be there, he’s gonna be in Robert’s back pocket, and he’s always going to stay in Robert’s back pocket. He’s never going to create a controversy, he’s never going to create an issue. He will be the guy that we have for a period of time.
“You need that as a team,” Cooley said. “Teams that win Super Bowls over periods of time have good backups that are just always there. They’re available, they’re ready to go in if they need to go in, but there’s nothing to say they’re the starter. Colt McCoy is that. He’s [nearly] 28 years old, he’s a good quarterback, he gets the game, he’s a smart kid. He will be in D.C. and accept the role of backup quarterback for the next five to seven years. Can you ask for any more than that if you have that position? I don’t think you can.
“You’re not asking for a guy that’s constantly competing to be the starter,” Cooley said. “You don’t need that as a starter. You want people to say you’re the guy you’re the guy you’re the guy, we love you we love you we love you. Every football player wants that….I think Colt McCoy was told here’s what you’ll be for us for a long period of time….And I believe Robert was told, matter of factly, we’re getting a guy that’s going to be the backup for you for an extended period of time. Kirk is going to benefit us, Kirk will be there this year if we need him, he’s a great player, but he very very most likely will never be here after this year. So thus, Colt McCoy.”
Needless to say, that plan has certain roster implications.
“Assuming Kirk Cousins doesn’t have some value to this team via trade, there will be three quarterbacks,” Cooley said.”They will not get rid of Colt McCoy. He will stay on the roster. I think he’ll be fine to be the [third quarterback] this year, with the understanding that this will be the last year of his career that he spends as a [number three]. The rest of his career will be spent as a [number two] behind Robert Griffin III.”