Have Sonny and Billy returned to the Washington Redskins?
There is no quarterback controversy. Robert Griffin III is the starter whenever he returns from offseason knee surgery. Kirk Cousins could be readying for a starting job elsewhere as soon as 2014.
But the Redskins clearly have two good quarterbacks — younger versions of Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer, who in the 1970s sparked the greatest quarterback divide among Washington fans.
Jurgensen went on to be a Pro Football Hall of Famer, something Griffin might be if injuries don’t shorten his career. Kilmer was a pretty good successor and Jurgensen’s close friend, just like Cousins is with Griffin.
Naturally, Cousins can spark a “what if” game among fans by playing well in Thursday’s preseason opener vs. Tennessee. The urgency for Griffin’s return might be lessened if Cousins plays well in August. The question is how will he fare against defensive coordinators who spent the offseason watching his four appearances last year?
And if the Redskins start well with Cousins against a weak opening month’s schedule, might he keep playing to maintain continuity?
It’s probably a moot point because Griffin appears on schedule to start against Philadelphia on Sept. 9. Griffin has said his knee and legs feel fine, and he’s just waiting for coach Mike Shanahan to increase his participation.
“I feel like I’m in rhythm out there throwing the ball,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been consistent with everything from the timing to the mechanics … whether it’s a plant throw, a hitch throw, a deep throw, a short throw.
“I’m ready to move on.”
For now, Cousins is a popular passer in camp. The 2012 fourth-rounder led Washington to a 31-28 overtime victory over Baltimore on Dec. 9 and a 38-21 triumph over Cleveland on Dec. 16, in which he completed 26 of 37 for 329 yards with two touchdowns and one interception while Griffin was out with a sprained ankle.
The magic wore thin against Seattle in the playoffs, though, with Cousins completing only 3 of 10 for 31 yards after Griffin was injured.
Last year, defenses were caught with little video of Cousins to prepare. Now they know his strengths as a pocket passer, but they don’t know whether Cousins can beat them with the zone read.
If Cousins can beat teams both ways, his trade value next offseason may rise to a second-round pick for a team desperate for a quarterback. Or the Redskins could keep Cousins a third year before peddling him. There will always be bidders.
For now, Sonny-Billy 2.0 could be entertaining.