Redskins Training Camp Preview: Quarterback
Today we continue our annual survey of the Redskins roster, seeking to determine which players are most likely to make the final 2013 team and which are not. We will look at every position on the roster and today we cover quarterback.
ON THE ROSTER: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman, Pat White
STARTER: Robert Griffin III
BACKUP: Kirk Cousins
ON THE BUBBLE: Rex Grossman, Pat White
ANALYSIS: We already know who the starter is – RG3 – and we already know who the backup is – Kirk Cousins. We know head coach Mike Shanahan prefers to keep only two quarterbacks, but last year kept three, probably because his top two signal-callers were both rookies. With Griffin and Cousins both having a year — a geat year — under their belts, will Shanny keep three again or revert to his preferred habit of saving that spot for an extra lineman or wideout?
Griffin is still rehabbing from the ACL and LCL tear that he suffered in the playoff loss to Seattle last January and, from all accounts, is ahead of schedule. He will be limited in training camp and will not appear in the preseason — I think that’s very wise — but, barring a setback, Griffin will start the week one Monday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Griffin was fantastic as a rookie, taking a team with few, if any, offensive playmakers and a defense that slipped badly last year, on to his back and carrying it to its first division title of the 21st century. The offense was first overall in yards per play, Griffin was responsible for 27 touchdowns and only 7 turnovers and justly won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, as well as being selected to the Pro Bowl outright. Whenever he’s healthy, he’s the starter.
A lot of people wondered aloud about the selection of Kirk Cousins in the fourth round last season, especially since the team had plenty of needs and had traded two first round picks and a second round pick to get Griffin in the first round. Nobody is critical of the Cousins selection now. He came off the bench against Baltimore, after Griffin suffered his initial knee injury, and threw a touchdown and ran in a 2-point conversion to tie the game and send it to overtime, where the Redskins got a much-needed victory. The next week, Cousins led the Redskins to a romp over the Browns in Cleveland, earning Offensive Rookie of the Week honors in his only start of 2012. One NFL.com analyst even calls Cousins the best backup QB in the league. He’s the #2 guy.
Rex Grossman has played 3 years for the Redskins and 4 years in the system designed by Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He made the team last year probably because Griffin and Cousins were both rookies, but he can’t count on that again. What he can count on, however, is that the Redskins are nervous about Griffin’s health and will not use the franchise player much in training camp and preseason. That alone could keep Grossman on the team again. However, there is also the not-so-small matter that the Shanahans appreciate Grossman’s knowledge of the offense and his ability to explain it to the youngsters — as well as his willingness to serve as a mentor rather than chasing his own NFL dreams.
Pat White was a second round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins after a sparkling career with the West Virginia Mountaineers. After a brief, unproductive and unsatisfying tenure with Miami, White retired and eventually joined a lawsuit against the NFL. He also pursued a baseball career, but that flamed out and White dropped his lawsuit and went into 2013 trying to catch on with the NFL again. After interviewing with a few NFL teams, including the New York Giants, White signed with the Redskins, perhaps because he thought the read-option offense would play to his skills.
White has looked pretty good so far, but he’s never been an NFL-quality quarterback before so it is an uphill battle for him to convince the coaches to keep him instead of Grossman. Of course, an injury to any of the three passers ahead of him on the depth chart could change things significantly.
PREDICTION: Griffin starts week one and Cousins is the #2 guy. That’s the easy part. I think Grossman makes the team for one more season, but that’s probably the end of his run in DC unless the Redskins suffer another injury at the position or the team gets a drunken sailor trade offer for Kirk Cousins. Pat White might play very well in preseason, but he’s probably hoping to impress some other team with less depth at the position.