For the fourth time this season, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions in a game, this time a 34-20 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. That brings his total for the season so far to eight picks in just six games. But that's not enough to convince head coach Jay Gruden to make a quarterback change. After the game, Gruden stood by his hand-selected quarterback, going so far as to blame the wind for Cousins' struggles.
"Yeah I don't know. I'll have to look at the film. Like I said - also, it was little windy. But, and also, [there was] a lot of pressure on him. There's a lot of things going on pre-snap that he's got to deal with, getting the formations and protections and all that. You know last week the Jets had about 15 cover-zeroes [all-out blitzes] against Miami, so we're always looking out for those and making sure he's aware of those. They played pretty vanilla today, and I think he hurried in some throws he didn't have to, or maybe he did. But I'll have to look at the film. But overall, you hate to pin this game on Kirk."
Gruden didn't stop with the wind and the Jets defense for excuses. He also pointed to his team's inability to get much going with the running game, all things Cousins has had to deal with through four seasons in the NFL.
You can read this a couple ways. It's coach speak. He can't really throw his quarterback under the bus in front of the media, especially since Cousins is HIS GUY. Coaches making decisions about their starters immediately after a game can, and do, change their minds.
But Gruden's criticized his quarterback in front of the press before. Rewind to Week 7 last season. Washington had just lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was the first game under Gruden in which Robert Griffin III threw more than one interception, and here's what Gruden had to say after that one.
"Robert had some fundamental flaws. His footwork was below average. He took three-step drops when he should have taken five. He took a one-step drop when he should have taken three on a couple occasions and that can't happen. He stepped up when he didn't have to step up, and he stepped into pressure. He read the wrong side of the field a couple times.
" ... it's not even close to good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position."
Hmmm, that sounds distinctly different than what Gruden said about Cousins on Sunday.
Cousins has six touchdowns, eight interceptions and 1,420 yards in six starts this season. He's averaging just 6.2 yards per attempt. His interception rate now sits at 3.5 percent this season, 4.3 percent for his career.
Griffin's career interception rate is 2.2 percent.
Both players have had to deal with similar circumstances in their careers with Washington: Lack of weapons around them, offensive line problems, reading defenses, etc. Neither quarterback has had an ideal situation.
It's pretty clear through his two seasons in Washington that Gruden doesn't have much faith in RGIII. Cousins is his preferred starting quarterback. Colt McCoy is No. 2. And Griffin, who did at least dress this week, is the third-stringer. It's not surprising that he would stand behind Cousins after yet another bad game. But it doesn't look very good for him to treat Cousins with so much deference after treating Griffin so harshly.
He's not conveying much respect for fans or the media either. You don't need to be a professional quarterbacks coach to know that Cousins had a terrible game, his fourth turd of the season, and played his part in Washington's fourth loss of the season. All four of Washington's losses this year have featured two interceptions from Gruden's quarterback of choice.
Washington never seems to be too far removed from mishandling a quarterback controversy, and it looks like we're on the verge of another one. At this point, I don't expect Gruden to replace Cousins with Griffin, but after another terrible game, it's fair to ask why not.
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