(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The NFL preseason really starts once there is a quarterback controversy. Or at least the rumblings of one.

After the New England Patriots wrapped up their joint workouts with the Redskins, Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston felt “Robert Griffin III didn’t look like the best quarterback on his own team.”

In fact, I thought Kirk Cousins was better than him, from the perspective of running the offense, fine-tuned mechanics and how decisively the ball came out of his hand. I wondered if I was alone, and then heard the same sentiment echoed by some others in the Patriots organization.

Griffin attempted just four passes in the preseason opener, completing two for nine yards. Cousins went 9 for 13 for 103 yards, but 64 of those came after the catch. So while it may have looked like Cousins had the better game, expanding the sample size shows us RGIII is the better, more efficient quarterback.

From 2012 to 2013, when Cousins is under center, the Redskins converted for a first down via passing plays just 29.4 percent of the time. With Griffin, 34.2 percent. That’s despite RGIII needing more yards for a first down on average (9.36) than Cousins (8.78).

Washington gained 5.95 yards per passing play with Cousins, 6.46 with Griffin.

Cousins turned the ball over 14 times on 211 plays (6.6 percent) while Griffin had just 24 over 919 plays (2.6 percent).

Griffin has a 36-to-17 touchdown-to-interception ratio while Cousins is 8 to 10.

By almost any measure, Griffin is the more efficient quarterback.


If there is a risk to having Griffin under center, it is his propensity to go for the big play.

“I like his progress, I like the fact that he works hard, he studies the game hard, he’s very accountable,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “The only negative on him, if there is one, is he wants every play to be a touchdown. And it drives me crazy. It’s a good thing, but sometimes, it’s not a good thing, you know what I mean? Does that make sense?”

It does make sense, way more than starting Cousins over Griffin ever would.