Shanahan says Cousins earned backup role

September 10, 2012

Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins confer with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan during Sunday’s victory over the Saints.(Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The biggest surprise prior to Sunday’s Redskins’ win over the Saints
was Mike Shanahan’s decision to de-activate veteran quarterback Rex
Grossman in favor of rookie Kirk Cousins.

That meant the Redskins’ fourth-round draft pick would have taken the
field had Robert Griffin III gotten hurt. Grossman wasn’t even dressed
for the game, so there was no chance for Shanahan to have a
split-second change of mind.

Shanahan said after the game that Cousins had his full confidence and
earned the right to be the backup Sunday following a strong preseason.
He said his opinion of Grossman, who this offseason re-signed with the
team after starting 16 games over the last two years, hasn’t changed.

“To be honest with you, I always think being active for a quarterback
is probably the best experience he can have. And I thought Cousins
needed to have that experience to know that he’s the next guy to go
in,” Shanahan said. “I thought he played well enough in preseason to
have that opportunity. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Rex as well,
but for Cousins to have the type of preseason that he had, I told him,
‘Get ready. If Robert did go down, I’ve got enough confidence in you,’
and that doesn’t take anything away from Rex. If Robert did go down,
I’ve got confidence in both guys.”

Cousins completed 42 of 73 passes for 560 yards and three touchdowns
and two interceptions this preseason.

Shanahan didn’t say if this decision would be the setup the Redskins
will use next week or if it was just a season-opener move/reward for
Cousins.

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mike Jones · September 10, 2012