The Washington Post

Thomas Boswell to concerned Redskins fans: Stop hating on RGIII

(AP Photo/Jay Paul)

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III struggled in the preseason, raising concerns that his progress as a pocket passer has stalled.

The lack of production from the quarterback and the first-string offense and the success of backup Kirk Cousins in the preseason has even led to talk of a supposed “quarterback controversy.”

In columnist Thomas Boswell’s weekly chat, he was asked if Cousins would “actually be a better choice” at starting quarterback.

This is a “nonsense” discussion according to Boswell, who asks for Washington fans to “just chill” and to “get over the hating.”

Boswell’s full response:

I just shake my head at this nonsense.

Twenty months ago, this guy was even money to be the greatest Skins player in 50 years. He really did have an historic season, as a recent Fancy Stats post of ours pointed out.

Just chill. (Yes, I know this is impossible for DC.) This year — the ENTIRE YEAR, all 16 games, no matter what — are about RGIII learning to play QB in the NFL with more emphasis (but not exclusive emphasis) on pocket-passing and defense reading.

Then all of NEXT YEAR will be about…The Same Thing.

Get over the hating, folks.

And Kirk Cousins isn’t close to being the answer. These men have actually played in the NFL. We aren’t projecting college players. Cousins has throw 203 passes. His career QB rating is 68.6 (bad). Last year it was 58.4. His AverageNetYards/Attempt — the “OPS of the NFL — is 4.60. (That includes the influence of sacks as well as all the other stuff.)

RGIII’s “awful” ’13 was better than Cousins career numbers: 60.1% completions, 16-12 TD-to-INT ratio (Cousins is 8-10 career), and a 82.2 QB rating with a (poor) 5.48 ANY/A.

Sorry to introduce facts into the discussion.

The Skins offense wasn’t the main reason they were 3-13 last year. It was the worst-in-50-years defense and the worst-in-the-history-of-mankind special teams. The offense was mediocre. Griffin, with a coach who hated him, was an average NFL QB.

This is a case of The Critics Have No Clothes. Griffin will eventually be a good or very good NFL QB. Great? Don’t know. Maybe not. That may bed the true ‘bad news.” But he will be the starting QB in Washington in 2020 (if he can stand upright). QB’s who have great seasons as good as ’12 and bad seasons as decent as ’13 Never Go Away in the NFL.

Look at the history of the NFL and every QB who ever had even one wonderful year. (I have.) They are still starting in their 30’s and usually into their mid-30’s. How many have injuries that essentially end their careers before 30? Almost none.

Just relax and hope that Griffin improves this year as the Skins go 5-11 or 6-10. And then that he improves again next year as the Skins get a little better.

This is called Rebuilding. Of course, the Skins will deny that such a thing could ever happen to them. (The fact that they deny they are rebuilding is one reason that they can never actually DO it.) Be glad that their “project” quarterback is WORTH the trouble of being a project.

Cousins may be a nice backup. Good for him. Maybe he will develop into a decent NFL starter somewhere someday. It’s even conceivable that he will be Trent Green someday — a heck of an accomplishment. But more likely Gus Frerotte.

Just for the sake of realism, go through the Skins schedule. Assume that they are 12 touchdowns better than last year. That’s more than 80 points better over 16 games. Then use the ’13 strength-of-teams metric at Pro Football Reference is see what the “lines” on every game would be this year. Add 5 points for the Skins to each of their ’14 games. What would their record be?


Okay, now assume they are seven points a game better this year — or 112 points for a season — an heroic assumption.

Then they are 8-8.

This is hopelessly broad brush. But at least it’s sanity-based.

If you like the Skins, don’t say destructive things about them like “no reason they can’t win 10 games this year.”

In January I wrote a column about this after Gruden was hired. Quoting myself (ugh):

“What are the chances that, two years from now, Snyder will stare at a Spurrier- or Zorn-like record and have to decide whether to stand fast? The facts, please. All NFL teams that ever had Washington’s record last season — 3-13 — averaged a 13-19 record over the next two years. A lot like the 12-20 two-year records of Spurrier and Zorn and the 20-44 four-year record of Shanahan.

There were cheerful exceptions. Indy once flipped from 3-13 to 23-9 behind Peyton Manning. Allen and Gruden could be a magical combination. But in NFL history only one team in six that goes 3-13 has a winning record the next couple of years. All hands, lash to the mast.”

I actually think they have looked better in the exhibition season — on defense, special teams and general organization and structure — than I expected. I’m optimistic. Which means 5-6-or-7 wins. If a lot goes right. With the wrong injuries…don’t even think about it.

Kelyn Soong is a news aide, blogger and reporter in the sports section. He currently covers high school and local tennis and has written about a variety of sports.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
What can babies teach students?
Unconventional warfare with a side of ale
A veteran finds healing on a dog sled
Play Videos
A fighter pilot helmet with 360 degrees of sky
Is fencing the answer to brain health?
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
How a hacker group came to Washington
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
How hackers can control your car from miles away
Play Videos
Philadelphia's real signature sandwich
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained
Next Story
Dan Steinberg · September 2, 2014