Posted September 15, 2013

Tony Dungy: ‘I’m not sure Kirk Cousins wouldn’t run offense better’ than RGIII

NFC East, Washington Redskins
Robert Griffin III (left) has struggled to recapture the form that made him the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Robert Griffin III (left) has struggled to recapture the form that made him the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Two losses. That’s how long it took the football world to launch into a seemingly inevitable, full-fledged discussion on this question: Should the Redskins replace a rusty Robert Griffin III at quarterback?

“I’m not sure Kirk Cousins wouldn’t run this offense better,” NBC’s Tony Dungy said during a weather delay of Sunday night’s 49ers-Seahawks game. Dungy made that comment after pointing out how Griffin has been relegated to staying in the pocket, either by blitzes from opposing defenses or his own physical limitations in coming back from that injury.

Dungy’s colleague, ex-NFL star Rodney Harrison agreed, arguing that a fully healthy Kirk Cousins would be an upgrade over “a 75 percent RGIII.”

For the second straight week, Griffin struggled in the first half of a Washington loss — this time he posted a 42.8 rating and fired an interception as Green Bay opened a 24-0 halftime lead. As he did in Week 1 against Philadelphia, Griffin settled himself but too late, with the Packers cruising to a 38-20 win.

“If we’re not starting fast, it’s my fault,” Griffin said after the game. “I’m not afraid to sit here and say, ‘Put that on my shoulders.’ I’ll take that. We didn’t start fast because of me.”

BANKS: Redskins among the early underachievers in 2013

Griffin, of course, sat out the preseason as the Redskins eased him back from last year’s knee injury. With zero live snaps until Week 1, Griffin has been tentative and noticeably less explosive than during his phenomenal 2012 season.

Last season, he ran the ball 120 times for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. Through two weeks of the 2012 season, he has carried the football nine times for 25 yards — a 2.8 yards-per-carry average. And though he took just one sack Sunday, Green Bay blitzed him consistently throughout the game, a tactic often avoided by defenses last season for fear of Griffin breaking contain.

That said, assuming Cousins would magically fix all that ails Washington might be misguided. He did lead the Redskins to a road win at Cleveland late last season, but that was his lone NFL start until getting the nod in Washington’s first two preseason games.

The concerns over Griffin’s health — however reasonable and valid they may be — also overlook that Washington’s defense has been shredded in each of the first two weeks. Philadelphia hung 26 first-half points on the Redskins last week, and Aaron Rodgers threw for a career-high 480 yards Sunday.

One more note: Washington started 3-6 last season before running off seven straight wins to close the year, so coming out of the gates a little slow is nothing new.

But Griffin raised the bar for himself with a magical 2012, and the expectations were that he would return to form in 2013. That he has struggled to do so while looking like a rickety version of his former self is worrisome enough, apparently, for people to begin calling for Plan B.

39 comments
Anaximenes1
Anaximenes1

rgiii is still injured---without his speed he's an average QB---DC needs to hold him out another season so he can get healthy

rskins09
rskins09

RG still rusty ..yeah, maybe a little bit but think the knee brace doesn't help ..Does  he have to wear it  ?   If so, for how long ?..Brace effects his passing , especially planting his feet ...Cousins  should start a few games, or play  at least the 1st half a couple of games ....Go SKINS    ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

rskins09
rskins09

it just hit me ...Have Cousins start  the 1st half, then RG the 2nd half ..2nd half RG seems to get better - warms up ..That and have  tackling 101  for all  the skins CB and S  ..OL isn't playing that bad ..When they know  RG isn't going to scramble, the  DL of opposing team tee off  ....Alfred Morris is playing well ...

SteveMehlman
SteveMehlman

Heard a lot yesterday about how seldom 0-2 teams get into the playoffs.  While that may be true, I'd also like to know how many times an entire division does not have a winning record after two games.  As awufl as the Skins played, they are still only one game out of the division lead.

SteveMehlman
SteveMehlman

Really surprised that Tony would be talking about pushing the panic button so early.  Yeah, RGIII is rusty, but much of the Redskins' problems can be attributed to dropped passes and fumbles by others,  not to mention an absolutely deplorable defensive secondary.  In the second half of both games, even though they were playing teams with huge leads who were playing softer than usual, they started to look better offensively. On the other hand,  he is going to have to let 'er loose and start running some more if he is going to soften up the defenses.  Putting Cousins in--although I think he is also a helluva quarterback--won't help RGIII get the confidence he needs to run.


southaustin
southaustin

Part of it is rust and part of it is mental (he's naturally scared of re injuring his knee and that's messing up his mechanics). After 2 full games you would think the rust would be gone- that's more playing  time than an entire preseason for a starter. So the question really is whether playing more or being benched will  help him get over the jitters sooner.

andy10
andy10

Two things:

1) Maybe...BIG maybe...Cousins would run the offense better in the short term as a function of having not missed the preseason. That said, RG3 is the long term and I think in the long run of the season it's better to let him play through his struggles.

2) RG3 isn't the reason they are losing. He has been a little rough around the edges out of the gate but once he is comfortable he has been slicing people up. His teammates haven't been doing him any favors either...also a function of getting on the right page with him. All said, the offense has been acceptable. The true shortcoming of this team is on the other side of the ball: DEFENSE has been horrible. Last year the offense covered up for the D, and pressured opposing offenses into making reckless plays. This year the Skins D has been exposed thus far. They need to get it together.

gooniegoogoo4
gooniegoogoo4

This argument is ridiculous. RG3 needs the real-time gameplay to shake the rust off and get back to gamespeed. Not sitting on the bench.

Everyone that was realistic about his recovery knew that 2-3 games would be required for him to get back to speed. This is his preseason....like it or not.....it is necessary.

Pulling him for Cousins only leads to an unwanted and unnecessary QB controversy (which the media would love of course).

 Also...as a diehard Redskins fan...this is not all on RG3. The Packers matchup with the Redskins secondary was already expected to be difficult......losing Merriweather early didn't help things. The Redskins D has to should alot of the blame as well with poor tackling and a number of stupid penalties.

Leave him in........lest you forget the Redskins started 3-6 last season before everything really started to click. The Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants also losing means the loss in the grand scheme of a 16 game season is meaningless.

It's not how you start a season.....its how you finish.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

RG3 won't shake off the rust sitting.  He needs to learn to play as a pocket passer for survival reasons. If you paid attention, you will have noticed that Tom Brady was very wary upon coming back from his knee injury in 2009, and showed some of the same initial reluctance to step into throws.  In his first five games back he had stinkers like 23-47 (v NYJ), 19-33 (v Den) and 25-42 (v ATL).  Eventually he got comfortable again.  No one was calling for Matt Cassell.  

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

“If we’re not starting fast, it’s my fault,” Griffin said after the game. “I’m not afraid to sit here and say, ‘Put that on my shoulders.’ I’ll take that. We didn’t start fast because of me."

-----------------------------------

Those are hollow words.  IF they did sit you, then you would throw coach under the bus and blame your injury and complain you were not ready to come back and they made you play. Please, you are NOT an nfl QB and one hit wonder. League knows how to play you now. 

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Last year media crowned this over hyped fool greatest out there....today, he is average and struggling.

But rg3 tweeted (everyday) how great he was going to be even without preseason games.......today, he is "still recovering" and hasn't played.  What a joke he is.  Maybe the media will stop hyping black QB's for the p.c. look.  Happened with Cam and obama...........ALL are a joke

FredFlintsone
FredFlintsone

Time to sit "mastermind"  the most overrated head coach in league. His "defense" gave up 480 yrds passing,a Shanahan tradition going back to his yrs in Denver

Mech
Mech

I hated to see them play him against Seattle in the playoffs when he was hurt ,,,hate to see them playing him now. He just isn't ready. Let him rehab a few more weeks. get him to 100% or dont play him,,, he is a big talent if he comes back , but you are mortgaging that for a few early games.

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

The Redskins should be worried more about their defense than RGIII.  Like it or not "banks" RGIII is the Redskins Quarterback... UNLESS Kirk can play defense the Redskins are not winning anytime soon.. The guy is coming off major surgery without any preseason and you are judging him after 2 games, You sound more like one of  those Trolls I read on message boards than a writer.  Why not wait and see how things play out...  even the most none mobile Quarterback needs a strong base and trust in that base to throw the ball, RGIII is no different AND if you think Kirk half the talent and skill set of RG3 will lead the skins anywhere is silly, base on what? a good game against Cleveland... and last years totals of 4 td's and 3 ints... Kirk has never been a better than RG3 at any point in his football career , so why even think about taking reps away from RG3 for a backup QB

Whatever
Whatever

@rskins09 It's not rust or the brace. He doesn't trust the knee, or he can't put his weight or force on it to throw. His left foot is flying out further left, and he ends up with his feet parallel as he's releasing the ball. No one can throw with any velocity or accuracy that way.

AP may have come back in record time from his knee injury, but he's a rare beast. A QB throwing has to put all of his weight and force on the left leg (for a right hander), pushing off with his right leg. RGIII obviously can't do that, or doesn't have confidence his knee will hold up. Perfectly natural reaction.

Trent Green had the same issues the year he came back from his big knee injury, and he had almost an entire year to recover. It wasn't until the following year when he could finally throw like he could before the injury, and I suspect RGIII is going to have a disappointing season simply because his knee (and his mind) just isn't ready yet.

Whatever
Whatever

@SteveMehlman RGIII's mechanics are AWFUL, and it's because he's not recovered from the injury. Nothing to do with rust; he simply can't put the weight and force on the knee that he needs to, and thus he changes his mechanics to somehow get the ball out and somewhat on target without having to use the knee.

He would be better off sitting out and fully rehabbing, and I don't mean just structurally sound (which the knee is now), but fully strengthened and conditioned to handle the proper mechanics of throwing, sliding in the pocket, and running with cuts. Running actually seems to be the best part of his game right now, or at least what he is most comfortable doing. The worst thing he does right now (besides looking very slow running the offense) is throw the football. His knee isn't up to it, and he doesn't trust it.

Whatever
Whatever

@southaustin That's because it's not rust. He's simply not ready, physically or mentally (doesn't trust the knee).

andy10
andy10

@gooniegoogoo4 , exactly. RG3 is sitting on a QB rating of 89, and with a rating of 104 yesterday. Despite his early game struggles, he's not why they are losing. 

Whatever
Whatever

@WHO*IS*ESPN Has nothing to do with the league knowing how to play him. It has to do with his knee is not ready and his mind is not ready to trust the knee. He is only about 8 months removed from the injury. An ACL really takes 1 year to be fully back, and then you have to start the mental process of trusting it. AP was a freak of nature, a one-off dude. RGIII just isn't ready to go yet, and it's drilling bad habits into him that will be very hard to get out later.

andy10
andy10

@WHO*IS*ESPN , people like you will whine no matter what a person you've decided to hate says. 

Terry
Terry

@WHO*IS*ESPN 

Your game is tired.

If Griffin hadn't taken responsibility, you would have said, "he's just another black who blames somebody else for his problems".

Can you please just leave this site?

DouglasFennema
DouglasFennema

@WHO*IS*ESPN Quite true. Sportswriters and casters, the last bastion of libererism, won't be truly happy until all 32 NFL teams have a black starting QB.

Now,we are,the NBA,they can say! It's sad.

andy10
andy10

@WHO*IS*ESPN , LOL...after reading your post above where you spun RG3's positive words into something negative, I guessed you are probably one of those really bitter right-wing types. Looks like I was right. Way to match the profile.

Whatever
Whatever

@FredFlintsone Amen! Shanahan hasn't done JACK SQUAT since Elway and TD retired. Or before. I fail to see why so many people hold him up as a genius.

sunalsorises
sunalsorises

@Mech I think Griffin is pushing himself to come back early because he knows Cousins will take his job if he doesn't.

Whatever
Whatever

@friendly--neighborhood--scrawler The problem with your theory is that the RGIII-led offense isn't keeping the Redskins in the game with all the points the D is giving up. Yes, the D is horrible, but the O can only score once teams go into prevent/clock burn mode. And RGIII can't throw.

andy10
andy10

@friendly--neighborhood--scrawler , congrats...you actually analyzed what has happened on the field, rather than acting like the sun rises and sets with RG3. Not sure why others aren't seeing it: RG3 is guilty of starting games a bit rusty...but he's finished strong both games and he is NOT responsible for their swiss cheese defense. 

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@friendly--neighborhood--scrawler Wow, your post almost went longer than the article.   Didn't make as much sense but it sure did take up some space.  Of course he is being judged after two games, given that they have only played........two games.   While you were arguing against the points made in the article, you made the same points that Tony Dungy and the author did, namely that RG is not completely healthy and is rusty.  Nowhere did they say that Kirk Cousins is a better QB, only that he may the better option at this point.

Whatever
Whatever

@andy10 @gooniegoogoo4 Don't use QB rating to prove anything. He's getting all of his numbers in the second half, only after the Redskins are down 30 points and the defense moves into prevent mode.

He doesn't have the throwing mechanics to delivery the ball when a defense is playing tight on receivers. He doesn't trust his knee, either because it's physically not ready or he's not mentally ready (likely a combination of both). It really, truly takes at least a year to recover from an ACL, and his knee was much more than that. 

I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself even more by trying to play. Once again, Shanahan proves it's more about Mike than his players or the team. For the good of the Redskins and RGIII (the future of the franchise), he should bench RGIII. 

Whatever
Whatever

@andy10 @WHO*IS*ESPN Don't insult right wing types by including him. He's strictly from the swampy end of the gene pool.

Whatever
Whatever

@sunalsorises @Mech Cousins will never take RGIII's job; the Redskins have too much investing in him (draft picks). However, Cousins could make himself a very wanted man if he performed well, which is another reason why the Redskins should bench RGIII (getting his knee well and mind ready is the most important reason), then hang Cousins out as trade bait.

riley8
riley8

@JoeCabot @friendly--neighborhood--scrawler Your's took nearly as long...lol  Mine won't.  You are exactly correct in your analysis of the article.  They will stick with RG3 bc they know his talent is superior to Cousins.  Talent always wins out.