Kirk Cousins got an object lesson in what it’s like to start at quarterback for a bad team Sunday. If he decides to pursue a career as a waiter or a waiter who wants to be an actor or an actor who wants to direct, I wouldn’t be surprised. Anything has to be better than trying to lead Washington to a victory.
Not that Cousins can point fingers (nor will he). His performance Sunday was . . . adequate, what you’d expect from a backup quarterback, yet he came close to beating Dallas. Close isn’t enough, though, and he hasn’t shown enough in two games to merit the eight-month quarterback controversy for which this fan base was warming up. He could play a whale of a game Sunday against the Giants, but it would still be a whale of a game against the Giants. A battle of the two worst teams in the worst division in the NFL — must-not-see TV! If the NFL had reverse flexing, that game would be shown at 8:30 a.m.
Cousins has given it his best shot, and Kyle Shanahan has helped him tremendously by devising a game plan tailor-made to Cousins’ strengths and letting Alfred Morris touch the football in the second half. (If Kyle Shanahan can do that for Cousins, he should be able to do it for Robert Griffin III 2.0 next season, but I don’t think he’ll get the chance.) Still, Cousins didn’t quite give off an “oh my goodness he should be the starter next season” vibe.
Of course, that assumes a healthy Griffin in 2014. A healthy Griffin — that caveat has so permeated the local lexicon that he might as well change his name to “A. Healthy Griffin.” AHG I. Relatives who arrived this weekend and don’t necessarily follow the contretemps of this team asked during Sunday’s telecast why Griffin was in street clothes. Was he injured? No. Is he sitting the rest of the season? Yes. What the what? Exactly.
At least, in front of the television cameras, amid all the shots of Griffin, there was harmony — faux or otherwise — on the Washington bench. Watching the Cowboys gripe about each other to each other or to their coaches, or beg for the ball, or console a guy who just committed a dumb personal foul that could have cost his team the game — hey, that’s our schtick! — reminds us that things here could be worse. Not much worse, but worse. At least Washington’s players haven’t turned on each other, at least not much, at least not so publicly. Put another way: At least no one walked off the field before the game was over. That’s some low-hanging fruit, but still.
No, the players seemed not to turn on each other. In fact, they often seemed as confused as the fan base about what the heck is going on over their heads, between coach and owner, coach and quarterback, quarterback and owner.
The loss Sunday will (and should) haunt them, but so should ruining London Fletcher’s home field finale. The entire team and staff should have to personally apologize to Fletcher, whose terrific career is ending in seven (and perhaps eight) straight losses. Fletcher has never been anything but above-board and classy. It’s amazing he stuck it out in Washington as long as he did, and when free agent time comes, whoever is running this mishegas needs to remember that he’ll be missed in the locker room every bit as much as he was on the field — and this is a man who never missed a game.
And the loss overshadowed a record-breaking season from Pierre Garcon. The phrase “lone bright spot” is overused, but in many games this season, his performance was the lone bright spot, whether his catches were made with one hand or flat on his back, whether his speed turned a short route into a long gain, or whether his quarterback was Griffin or Cousins, Garcon delivered. He would probably trade some catches for a better record than 3-12 — the second-worst in the NFL — but instead his brilliant season will be remembered as the one in which the team imploded.
“Same result, same story, same answers,” Garcon said in response to a question after the game.
The question doesn’t matter. Garcon summed up 2013 quite nicely.
For more by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/hamilton.