‘Someday’ is not tomorrow, or Sunday or Week 17 at New York.
The Washington Redskins were officially eliminated from the playoffs with Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, prompting speculation about strategy down the stretch.
When Cousins was asked how he felt about the possibility of taking over for
“Robert’s a young player, too,” Cousins said. “He’s getting better and he’s learning. It doesn’t happen overnight, so to take him off the field so I can develop, then he’s not developing.
“Obviously it’s a much bigger deal for him to get those reps than for me being that he’s the starting quarterback.”
That’s not to say Cousins wouldn’t like to be the starter in the NFL. He said if the coaches do make the decision, he would “roll with it.”
At present he is comfortable with sharpening his talents to a degree suitable for starting status, as he prepares as the backup.
“I’d love a chance,” Cousins said. “I believe… that if I’m good enough, I’ll get that chance, so I don’t need to force it to happen today or tomorrow.
“It may happen four or five years from now, but if it happens, it happens, and I’ll be patient and wait.”
Last season Cousins proved to be valuable to the Redskins in spot duty for Griffin III.
In the lone start of his career, a 38-21 win at Cleveland in 2012, Cousins completed 26-of-37 passes, slightly more than 70 percent, for 329 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
A week before beating the Browns, Cousins came off the bench in the fourth quarter with Washington trailing Baltimore 28-20, and relieved an ailing Griffin III to finish a comeback.
With 0:45 left in the game and the Redskins on the Ravens’ 26-yard line, Cousins completed a 15-yard pass to
On the ensuing attempts, he ran in the two-point conversion himself, and the Redskins won on a field goal in overtime.
While Griffin III was injured in the offseason, Cousins took all repetitions with the first-team offense and led the Redskins to a perfect preseason.
His only regular season action so far has been more challenging.
He entered a game at Denver with the Redskins trailing, 38-21, and about 4:11 left in the fourth quarter. In two drives, Cousins threw two interceptions. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie broke in front of the route, intercepting the pass and ran 75 yards for a touchdown.
Washington, D.C. was the birthplace of the NFL quarterback controversy between Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer in the 1970s. It was at that time that the adage arose that the backup quarterback on a disappointing team is the most popular guy in town.
But as Cousins’ struggles against the Broncos demonstrate, the job of backup quarterback is not always glamorous.
Head coach Mike Shanahan said on Monday that only an injury would lead to more playing time for Cousins. When the coach fielded questions about Cousins trying to prove his worth, he complimented the backup as a reliable player.
“I think the hardest thing is for a second-year quarterback, or a second-team quarterback, [is] to prepare and be ready for every game like he’s a starter, because it takes a lot of hours, a lot of mental preparation and you don’t get a chance to get in,” head coach Mike Shanahan explained.
“When you do get in, you’ve got to take advantage of that opportunity. When Kirk does, or when he has like last year – if it was Cleveland or Baltimore – he took advantage of it and he proved to people that you can count on him.”
On Wednesday Griffin III said he did not take offense to questions surrounding Cousins, saying: “That’s just outsiders looking in that just don’t understand the game of football.”
With a quarter of the season still to be played, everyone at Redskins Park seems on the same page about letting Griffin III continue to make up for time lost with injury.
That starts with Robert.
“I think it would be real cowardly of me to check out and say, ‘Hey, I don’t want to play these next four games.’ It’s not who I am,” Griffin III said. “It’s not who any competitive football player is. You want to play, so we’re going to finish out the year and you take what’s happened this year, being 3-9, and you face it.”
Last week against the Giants, Griffin III completed a season-high 75 percent of his passes, ran for 88 yards and posted a quarterback rating higher than 100 for the fourth time this season. He threw one touchdown pass and did not record a turnover despite being sacked five times.
In the backup’s view, life as a starting quarterback is best left as a mirage.
“You dream about those opportunities,” Cousins said. “You dream about that second contract and being able to be a leader of a team. And as a result of being a quarterback of an NFL team you get the chance to really have a positive impact on a city, which would be a lot of fun, too.
“All those things come along with being a starting quarterback. My job is to make sure I’m working each and every day so that I’m good enough to get that opportunity someday.”