October 25, 2020

Washington Redskins 2014 Season Preview Part I: Quarterbacks

All this week leading up to the Washington Redskins 2014 season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 7, District Sports Page is taking an in-depth look at the players that will make up the 53-man roster to start the season in a position-by-position breakdown.

Monday we look at the competition at quarterback. More realistically, we asked the question: Is there a competition at quarterback?

In the recent history of the Washington Redskins, the biggest question that is most often repeated year after year is “Who should play quarterback in order to give the Redskins the best chance to succeed?”

Under the helm of Mike Shanahan, he brought in Donovan McNabb to replace a developing Jason Campbell. Then he benched McNabb during the end of a game against the Detroit Lions to have Rex Grossman attempt a game-winning drive. Next, we had the Grossman and John Beck fiasco that ended in a wasted season, enticing the Redskins decided to move up in the next draft to grab Robert Griffin III.

Surprisingly, Washington drafted another quarterback, Kirk Cousins,three rounds later and questions automatically began to fly about whether there would be a battle for the starting signal caller. In 2012, all of those questions were put to rest as Griffin led his team to the division title and a home playoff game for the first time since 1999.

Unfortunately for both the Redskins and Griffin, 2012 ended with its offensive leader going into the offseason broken and physically incapable of getting ready for the next season. Questions again arose about whether Griffin would be able to start the season against Philadelphia and if Cousins should fill in until the week five bye after having an impressive pre-season showcase.

After dropping five straight games after a 3-5 start, Griffin was benched for “safety precautions”. Cousins had a trial run of three games but did not win any of the encounters, though he showed potential as a leader. With the incredibly disappointing 3-13 record, both head coach Mike and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan were given the boot and replaced by former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

Beginning the 2014 training camp there seemed to be no controversy as Gruden immediately named Griffin as the starter. Everyone felt that with a full offseason and playing without a hindering knee brace, the former Heisman winner could return to form and lead this team once again.

However, after a mediocre and lackluster preseason from the first string offense, there were some doubters if Griffin was the best option for the team. Griffin went 13 for 20 for 141 yards, two interceptions, was sacked four times, and multiple questionable decisions. The controversy was fueled by former Redskins great Joe Theismann when he made the following comment:

“Let’s stop beating around the bush. Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now, Robert is learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn’t look as smooth or as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know.

It’s going to be a decision that Jay Gruden will to have to make. Right now, Robert Griffin III is his quarterback. Now, if there was a quarterback competition, it wouldn’t be a competition. Kirk Cousins would be the man I believe he would have to go to, because of the efficiency with which he has run [the offense]. Now Kirk, like I said, is basically a drop-back quarterback. I see Andy Dalton in Cincinnati, I see Kirk Cousins that way”.

Although Cousins has looked impressive during the course of the first three preseason games, he did so against backup defenders, many of whom will not be employed in the coming month. It was crystal clear that Cousins had a much cleaner pocket with more time to throw when compared to Griffin running for his life against the Ravens. Furthermore, Cousins already had his chance to compete for the starting job when he played against starting caliber defenses at the end of last year, where he faired okay, but not to the extent where he would unseat Griffin.

To add another twist to the already confusing puzzle, the St. Louis Rams lost their franchise quarterback Sam Bradford, again to that same dreaded torn ACL injury. With Cousins being a young and capable backup with some game experience, rumors began to swirl linking the two teams because of their history in trading picks for the Redskins’s right to select Griffin. However, at this time Rams’s coach Jeff Fisher claims he is sticking with his veteran backup, former Maryland standout Shaun Hill.

For now, there will not major developments or changes at the quarterback position for the Redskins. Griffin will start and continue to do so until he physically cannot or he loses the support of his teammates. Some fans may be quick to blame Griffin for last year’s disappointment simply because he did not save a team that had an atrocious defense and special teams.

Cousins will continue to be the guy who is one play away from getting into the game. Cousins will have to bide his time while Griffin gets every opportunity to fulfill the promise that everyone saw in 2012. Perhaps Cousins’ best opportunity might be with another franchise, but for now, he’s the backup unless Griffin proves once and for all he’s unfit for the job.

Colt McCoy will be retained as the third string signal caller because of Griffin’s injury history and is more than capable in that role, as he could be many teams’ primary backup.

The organization, coaching staff, players and all Redskins fans hope Griffin shakes off the rust, quiets the doubters, and takes his team to new heights.

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland studying Journalism. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards,  Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. Neil, however, favors the Orioles as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

Washington Redskins hope the unthinkable doesn’t happen in NFL Draft

Earlier this week, Baylor University hosted Robert Griffin III’s “pro day,” as he wowed scouts with his arm strength and other physical attributes. The events were broadcast on the ESPN networks and covered by all the D.C. major media. People tweeted with gushing accolades, all proclaiming the Washington Redskins indisputable hold on Griffin as the No. 2 overall selection in next month’s NFL Draft. [Read more…]

Washington Redskins re-sign Rex Grossman as tutor and insurance

Rex Grossman re-signs with Redskins to tutor No. 2 pick. (stock photo by Brian Murphy)

According to multiple reports, the Washington Redskins re-signed quarterback Rex Grossman to a one-year deal over the weekend. The nine-year veteran will play his third season with the Skins. [Read more…]

Is Peyton Manning the answer at quarterback for the Washington Redskins?

According to multiple reports (and how could you miss them if you follow the team), the Washington Redskins will make an “aggressive effort” to sign quarterback Peyton Manning now that he and the Indianapolis Colts have formally parted ways.

Is this a good idea? [Read more…]

Time to find out if RGIII can be the Washington Redskins’ Superman

by Jack Anderson, Special to District Sports Page

It’s time.

Given his overwhelming potential and seemingly limitless ceiling, the moment is right for the Washington Redskins to take the plunge and bet the house on the man known as RGIII.

That’s only Robert Griffin’s weekday moniker though. On weekends, he’s Superman. Clark Kent jumped buildings in a single bound, but Griffin made the college gridiron his playground. Now he’s going pro and several teams are lined up ready and willing to pay a king’s ransom for the new Man of Steel in this year’s NFL draft.

There isn’t much Griffin can’t do. He is working on a Masters degree in communications, was a world-class track athlete in high school and is one of the nation’s top quarterback prospects. Yet his quiet pride and selfless nature overshadow all his accomplishments, resulting in one of the more balanced, grounded individuals you’ll ever encounter.

It just so happens that there’s more to this humble college kid than he’ll let on to.

Fittingly, Griffin wore a pair of Superman socks to the Heisman Trophy presentation. But instead of strutting onto the national stage in the presence of his fellow candidates, Griffin presented the outrageous footwear with a lightheartedness that only made him more likeable.

Of course he finished the night hardware in hand. “Unbelievably, believable,” he said of the honor.

Unbelievable – according to Griffin – because of the emotion that came with such a moment. Believable to the rest of us because he’s just that good.

It’s not easy to find such a combination of talent and squeaky-clean character, but Griffin has it all. In 2011, he completed over 72 percent of his passes and had a touchdown-interception ratio better than 6-to-1. He recently ran one of the fastest 40-times of any quarterback in history and appears poised to take the NFL by storm.

With the recognition also comes the scrutiny of endless meetings with NFL teams, media obligations, a strict workout routine and a continued sense of purpose. Many potential draftees undergo the firestorm of responsibility and how they handle it will help shape what they become.

There is little doubt Griffin will pass the gauntlet with flying colors. This is the same guy who could choose between heading to law school or quarterbacking a professional football team. Winners have that ability to turn any situation into a positive one. Griffin fits that mold and that’s why he’s already blowing the skeptics away with his top-notch attitude and off-the-chart talents.

Naturally the hype has several of the NFL’s bottom-feeders clamoring for his services. The Redskins, Browns, Dolphins and others would love to reverse the fortunes of their respective franchises with such a high-caliber player and it’s likely one of them will.

It all hinges around the St Louis Rams and the No. 2 overall selection in the NFL draft. The Rams are set at quarterback with former No. 1 selection Sam Bradford and are expected to trade their pick to the highest bidder. That team will surrender a treasure trove of assets, but in today’s NFL a franchise quarterback trumps most everything else.

Especially in Washington.

The “Redskin way” hasn’t been conducive to success in a long time. Then again it’s never really had an individual capable of putting the entire team on his back like Griffin is expected to do.

The Colts, Saints, Patriots and Packers can all attest to the importance of the quarterback position. Players have come and gone in each organization, but the same guys were under center when those teams combined for six of the last 11 Super Bowl trophies. Possessing that constant an entire locker room can depend on – you can’t put a price tag on it.

The Redskins don’t have that and haven’t for years. They’ve tried to be home run hitters and have only recently attempted to build a team piece by piece. But there isn’t always a gameplan for every scenario. Sometimes a player like Griffin comes along and forces you to call an audible.

Mike Shanahan has done a good job putting certain elements of into place, but the prevailing opinion is that he’ll never turn the Redskins around without acquiring a dynamic quarterback. Griffin is that guy, but the cost is likely to make Shanahan a little skittish.

And with good reason because Griffin can’t do it by himself. The Redskins will have to build around him, which could be difficult if they part ways with numerous draft picks to get him.

However, drafting Griffin presents one of those rare shortcuts the Redskins aren’t usually afforded. He’s pretty close to the can’t-miss label and there is nothing on his resume that would leave a team holding their breath.

Shanahan need only listen to Griffin’s Heisman speech for inspiration when it comes to rolling the dice. If there’s “no pressure,” there’s “no diamonds.” It’s a gamble, but one that could turn the tide for a team stuck in neutral.

The cost is high, the risk even higher, but the payoff promises to be worth it. It’s time to find out if Superman can withstand the Burgundy and Gold kryptonite.

Jack Anderson is a special contributor to District Sports Page. He has been covering Washington, DC sports as a credentialed reporter since 2009. He covers the Capitals for NHL Home Ice and TSN Radio and is a freelance writer having contributed to the Washington Times, Associated Press and NBC Washington. You can follow him on twitter @jackandersonIII.

Redskins Report: In Beck they trust; Skins will switch QBs


John Beck tries to evade a tackler in last Sunday's game against the Eagles. (photo by Brian Murphy)

According to multiple reports this morning, the Washington Redskins will indeed change quarterbacks this week and will name John Beck the starter for the upcoming road game against the Carolina Panthers.

Beck was called upon to relieve Rex Grossman in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles after Grossman threw his fourth interception of the game.  Beck, 30, led the Redskins on a touchdown drive with 2:44 remaining in the game, but the Skins passed on an onside kick attempt and never got the ball back.

Beck has played in six games in his five NFL seasons.  He started four games for the Miami Dolphins in 2007, with a completion percentage of 56.1 percent with one touchdown and three interceptions.  Beck went 8-for-15 for 117 yards and rushed for 14 yards on two carries, including a two-yard quarterback draw for the Redskins lone touchdown against the Eagles. [Read more…]

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