Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins hadn’t even received postgame pats on the back and “atta-boys” for his smashing first career start before Washington Redskins observers speculated on how much he could fetch in a trade. Sports-talk radio and the Internet has been abuzz with the topic since the NFL’s second-hottest team rolled Sunday against Cleveland without injured star quarterback Robert Griffin III. But before Redskins fans work themselves into a tizzy over all the trade-Cousins chatter, we’ll let you in on a little secret: Cousins isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
“Trade him?” Coach Mike Shanahan told me recently, with surprise evident in his voice. “It doesn’t happen very often where you’ve got a chance to have a very special player that you [draft in the fourth round]. When you’re trying to build what we are with your football team, those aren’t the type of guys you trade.”
The Post Sports Live crew debates whether Kirk Cousins’s 329-yard, 2 touchdown performance at Cleveland will play a factor for the Redskins in deciding who will play at Philadelphia.
Exactly. Cousins is a key figure in Shanahan’s long-term plan to put Washington back on top. After high-profile misses on quarterbacks during his first two seasons (no one could forget the Donovan McNabb debacle or the Rex-Beck fiasco), Shanahan paid a steep price for the rights to draft Griffin and invested again in trying to solve his quarterback issue by using another pick on Cousins instead of addressing other needs.
Mission accomplished. Griffin’s combination of smarts, arm strength and athleticism has made him one of the faces of the NFL. And the steady Cousins — he’s as sharp in the film room as he is on the field — is the perfect understudy for Griffin, who figures to miss a few shows.
Griffin’s all-out determination on every play has led to some poor decision-making with regard to his own well-being: He wound up with a concussion after taking on Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon near the sideline in Week 5 and sat out against the Browns because of a knee injury he suffered while being tackled when he should have been sliding in Week 14 against Baltimore.
Sometimes, a productive backup quarterback is the difference between making the playoffs and staying home. Over the past two weeks, first as a closer then as a spot starter, Cousins has proved to be a top-notch reliever.
After a slow start that included an interception, Cousins inspired confidence on the Redskins’ fifth possession. He made a textbook deep throw to wide receiver Leonard Hankerson on a 54-yard touchdown pass. And then Cousins finally exhaled.
“I’d be lying to you if I said there weren’t butterflies,” Cousins said.
Apparently, they were gone by halftime. Cousins was clearly comfortable as the Redskins scored 28 points in the final two quarters en route to a blowout and their fifth consecutive victory.
Washington has matched its longest winning streak since the 2005 season (only Denver, currently riding a nine-game streak, is hotter than the Redskins). If Washington wins its final two games against Philadelphia and Dallas, it will finish first in the division and play in the postseason for the first time since the 2007 season.