“It can divide a team, and it can cause problems,” ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said. “If RGIII is nicked up and Cousins lights it up, what are you going to do then?”
Added fellow ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski: “You’ve created more problems than you’ve solved.”
Today, Griffin’s sprained right knee is in a brace and Cousins is basking in the comeback he orchestrated to help the Redskins beat the Baltimore Ravens, 31-28 in overtime Sunday after Griffin was injured. If Griffin cannot play because of the Grade 1 sprain to his lateral collateral ligament, Cousins may have to start Sunday’s road game against the Cleveland Browns, with a Redskins playoff berth very much at stake.
The backup quarterback is “one play away from being the starter,” Shanahan said in April, a remark that looks even more prescient today. If the starter goes down with an injury, “I want to have the ability to still win. It’s hard. You can’t find quarterbacks. . . . If you can develop a couple guys and have three guys on your team, you feel like you have the chance to do something special in the long run.”
Shanahan and Redskins coaches factored in Griffin’s mobility, which subjects him to a greater risk of injury, and noted that 12 different teams had to turn to backups in 2011 after starters were hurt.
Other players whom the Redskins might have considered at the time they made their pick, have not had stellar seasons.
They include Mississippi State tackle Bobby Massie, who most draft gurus gave a second-round grade, Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin, who some saw as a late second- or early third-round selection and LSU cornerback Rob Brooks, who projected as a third-round pick.
Massie, who went 10 picks after Cousins to the Arizona Cardinals, has started all 13 games, but has struggled as a member of a line that has yielded a league-high 51 sacks. Boykin (taken 123rd by Philadelphia) has had ups and downs as the Eagles’ third corner, but has fared well on kickoff returns, averaging 22.9 yards per runback. Brooks, meanwhile, has appeared in only six games for Buffalo, which drafted him 124th.
Cousins, on the other hand, could very well be the Redskins’ most important draft pick after Griffin and running back Alfred Morris. He shook off the disappointment of being drafted by a team that didn’t need him as a starter and beat out Rex Grossman for the second string spot.