The Washington Redskins will only go as far as second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III takes them, many believe. But is that belief mistaken, a myth brought on by Griffin’s lofty draft status? Backup Kirk Cousins has a firm hold on the second-string job, giving the Redskins two sophomore signal callers who can get the job done. So, is it worth rushing Griffin back from a knee injury suffered last season? Are ticket sales or jersey sales a consideration? Or does the team truly believe that it’s championship or bust this season for the Burgundy and Gold? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk decipher what Washington should do with their fan favorite.
Riley: I try not to let the preseason cloud things, but Cousins was impressive in the ‘Skins debut Aug. 8 against the Tennessee Titans, and he was effective in limited time last season. Cousins is becoming a coveted quarterback, so rather than rushing Griffin back from an ACL injury that he suffered less than 10 months ago, why not let Cousins run the ship until RGIII is truly healthy?
Green: Washington is in a tough position, but the fan base and season ride on Griffin's coattails, so Washington has no choice in the matter. You don’t want to rush him back, but look at the team before he got there; it's hard for fans or even critics to picture the team without Griffin at the helm. Even a 75-percent healthy Griffin gives Washington the big play threat they need at quarterback.
Riley: How true is that, really? Besides the track meet that RGIII put on last season, how impressive of a pocket passer was he last year? His legs helped open passing lanes, so how will defenses play him this year if he’s fresh off the injury and teams are forcing him to stay in the pocket and read their coverage? Griffin's true threat is his mobility—without that, who is he? If Griffin gets hurt again and allows Cousins to shine, then Washington will risk losing Cousins to free agency while they try to restore RGIII's career. If they simply let Griffin take the full year off and Cousins shines, you might lose Cousins to another team, but at least RGIII will be fully healthy going forward.
Green: Cousins is a backup for a reason. His only role is to be ready in case Griffin goes down again. But the good thing is that Griffin is looking very healthy right now. He’s sprinting full speed and has been planting and cutting without knee issues. Cousins won’t be needed, barring any major setbacks. As long as he keeps this up, it’s an easy choice to play RGIII. Sure, Cousins is a decent quarterback and, unlike others suggest, I don’t think the team should trade him. Good backup quarterbacks are priceless when your starting quarterback tends to be injury-prone. Nonetheless, RGIII looks healthy right now so play the quarterback that gives you the best chance to win.
Riley: But why rush him back when you have a healthy quarterback fully capable of winning games at the helm? We're talking about a quarterback who just turned 23 years old and has already had multiple knee injuries in the last few years. RGIII has his whole career ahead of him, so why risk that possible 10-year stretch of stable quarterback play by pushing him back to the playoffs for a single season? Are the Redskins going to win the Super Bowl this year? We don't know, but there’s a pretty strong chance they won’t, so why even take the chance? I could see if the team was loaded and returning multiple Pro Bowlers, but they're not. The Redskins play in a stacked conference, with the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons all locked and loaded and ready for championship contention. Washington is still putting the pieces together for what they hope should be a stretch of playoff appearances, but that stretch won't start if their trigger man is hobbled.
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