Kirk Cousins’s stats were far better than Robert Griffin III’s stats on Saturday night. But Griffin was playing against the Baltimore first-stringers, and Griffin is the franchise quarterback, and Griffin is the unquestioned starter. So you might have thought that Joe Theismann — a perpetual optimist who works for the Redskins Broadcast Network — would have downplayed this discrepancy between the two signal callers. He did not.
“Let’s stop beating around the bush,” Theismann said early in the fourth quarter. “Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now, Robert is learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn’t look as smooth or as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know.
“It’s going to be a decision that Jay Gruden is going to have to make,” Theismann said. “Right now, Robert Griffin III is his quarterback. Now, if there was a quarterback competition, it wouldn’t be a competition. Kirk Cousins would be the man I believe he would have to go to, because of the efficiency with which he has run [the offense]. Now Kirk, like I said, is basically a drop-back quarterback. I see Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, I see Kirk Cousins that way. …”
As the game ended, Theismann came back to this topic.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of conversation after this football game regarding the quarterback position,” he said.
“I would agree,” play-by-play man Kevin Harlan agreed.
“You can’t avoid it,” Theismann went on. “Your eyes don’t lie to you. Robert has struggled in the limited opportunities that he has had. And Kirk Cousins has seized the opportunities that he has had when it comes to playing the position and understanding the offense.”
“And Joe, the numbers speak for themselves,” Harlan said.
In fact, those numbers earned Cousins the Subway Player of the Game, no small irony given Griffin’s endorsement deal.
“Kirk Cousins did a very good job tonight getting the ball out of his hands,” Theismann said in awarding this sandwichy honor. “Decisive with the ball, very accurate when it came to throwing it, and his decisions were very good as well. So it was a very complete second half for him. And you can say it’s against the second team, you can say he’s with the second team. It doesn’t matter. He did a heckuva job tonight.”
Griffin’s rough night continued on the Comcast SportsNet postgame show.
“He didn’t look like he had ever played quarterback in his life in this game up until the last week or so,” analyst Trevor Matich said. “His instincts were terrible. He threw another interception, and it happened because he threw the ball very late on a short pass out to the right. There was another pass that should have been a pick-six, that he threw late out to the right. … Those things show that his instincts still are holding him back as a pocket passer and the question is, will he overcome those instincts and re-train those instincts soon enough?’
Later, Matich was asked which quarterback gives Washington the best chance to win.
“Kirk Cousins gives them a better chance to beat Houston in week one,” Matich said. “But over the next eight years or so, RGIII I think has the chance to develop into a quarterback that can take them farther than Cousins can. … RGIII has not even begun to scratch his potential as a pocket passer, because you know what, he just isn’t one yet.”
Brian Mitchell disagreed.
“I’m still going with RGIII, and the reason I’m going to go with him is because I think overall he gives you the best chance of winning,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think he’s a more polished quarterback in the pocket than Kirk Cousins, but I’ve seen Kirk Cousins play, and I don’t think you won a lot of games with him as well. … Kirk Cousins will always look better than [Griffin] in the pocket. But is he better than him?”
— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) August 24, 2014
— thom loverro (@thomloverro) August 24, 2014
And that Ravens 1st team Defense is very good and Kirk did look good but it was against the 2nd and 3rd team so calm down…
— Fred Smoot (@Fsmoot21SeanT) August 24, 2014
Mitchell also offered up some advice to Griffin for the next few days.
“I’m gonna say it right now: Ignore Twitter this week and focus only on film watching and focus on the things you need to get done on the football field,” Mitchell said. “And I guarantee you’ll get a little better.”