Redskins defensive end Ricky Jean Francois defended Kirk Cousins after practice Wednesday and bemoaned the report from an anonymous source that “multiple offensive players” were already grumbling about Washington’s starting quarterback. Meanwhile, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden downplayed concerns over dissension in the locker room and said that frustration was to be expected after an 0-2 start.
In an interview with the MMQB’s Albert Breer, Gruden also addressed the notion that he has treated Cousins differently than he treated Robert Griffin III, a debate that has resurfaced after Cousins struggled in 2016’s first two games. Gruden was heavily critical of Griffin in one memorable press conference, the day after Washington’s 27-7 home loss to Tampa Bay in November 2014, and depending on whom you ask, he has either been too nice or too mean in his assessment of Cousins this season.
“There was the one issue; that was it,” Gruden told Breer of his criticism of Griffin, referring to the press conference in which he said Griffin’s performance against Tampa Bay was “not even close to good enough” to what the team expected. “Some people acted like I constantly trashed him. I don’t think I’m treating anyone differently. I learned a lot from that one press conference, and I took responsibility for it. Should’ve kept it in-house. But I’m never trying to put a lot of blame on one person. If things aren’t right, it’s usually because of more than that. And right now, we have a lot to clean up.”
Earlier Wednesday, former Giants receiver Amani Toomer joined Michael Wilbon and Stephen A. Smith, among others, in suggesting that Gruden has treated his quarterbacks differently, and Toomer cast the blame for any actual discord in Redskinsland on that opinion.
“I think it all goes back to Jay Gruden [and] the way he treated RGIII,” Toomer told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan. “You can’t dog a quarterback in front of everybody, describing how poor his drops were, describing how poor his decision-making was, because all that does is that tells the rest of the team, ‘Hey, yeah, what [he] was saying was right, and you know what, if next time a quarterback messes up, I’m going to dog him too,’ and that’s what’s happening.
“The fact that RGIII got ran out of town so unceremoniously — you can blame RGIII all you want — but that’s a toxic situation in that locker room, and it all started with the way Jay Gruden, in an unprecedented manner, totally destroyed his quarterback in a press conference. You can’t reel that back. You can’t say, ‘Come on, guys, don’t be so hard on the quarterback’ when you, as the head coach, were. And now you’re protecting a quarterback who is playing just as poorly as RGIII was playing. … You can dog RGIII, but you have kid gloves with Kirk Cousins. Hmmm, why is that? That’s a question he’s going to have to answer. It’s surprising how shortsighted some of these new coaches that come in and don’t understand — who’ve been in locker rooms but don’t understand the dynamic of how things work.”