This is a gutsy move by Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins. They are doing the one thing players usually ask for: play the guy who gives you the best chance to win.
Colt McCoy came in for an ineffective Kirk Cousins while RG3 was injured and led the team to a come-from-behind victory over the Tennessee Titans. McCoy then started the following week and led the Redskins to an upset victory over the Dallas Cowboys before returning to the bench in favor of a healthy (healthier?) Robert Griffin III.
In McCoy’s limited duty, he completed 85.7 percent of his throws for 427 yards with a touchdown and an interception for a quarterback rating of 107.0. McCoy is the only Redskins quarterback this season to start and finish a victory.
Griffin, a former No. 2 overall pick, has started five games and completed four of them. The team has lost each of the starts that he’s completed.
Griffin has completed nearly 70 percent of his throws, a career high, but has averaged just 7.3 yards per attempt with two touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 85.7.
Another factor that played a role in Griffin’s benching were his comments after the team’s Week 11 blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“We can’t throw knives and stab each other in the back,” said Griffin, right before stabbing his teammates in the front. “It takes 11 men. It doesn’t take one guy and that’s proven. If you want to look at the good teams in this league and the great quarterbacks, the Peyton [Manning]s and the Aaron Rodgers, those guys don’t play well if their guys don’t play well. They don’t.”
Coach Gruden fired back at his quarterback.
“Robert needs to understand he needs to worry about himself, number one, and not everybody else,” Gruden said. “It’s his job to worry about his position, his footwork, his fundamentals, his reads, his progressions, his job at the quarterback position. It’s my job to worry about everybody else. Yes, everybody else needs to improve, there’s no question about it. It’s not his place. His place is to talk about himself.”
It’s rare that there’s such a great exchange of honesty, not only in the NFL, but in professional sports.
Sometimes, honesty is not the best policy. Neither is starting the player who gives you the best chance to win (McCoy) if the player you’re replacing is tabbed as the face of the franchise (Griffin). That is especially true when that soon-to-be former franchise player is only 24 years old and the current general manager gave up three first-round picks to acquire him.
This is different than the situation in Buffalo when former first-round pick E.J. Manuel was benched in favor of Kyle Orton. Although Manuel is a nice guy and a serviceable backup, he never looked like a starting-caliber quarterback at any point in his career and the Bills were (and still are) in playoff contention when they made the move.
RG3 led the Redskins to a division title as a rookie and won the AP’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Griffin won more games as a rookie than McCoy has in his entire five-year career.
With the Redskins sitting at 3-8, there’s no real upside in making a move to a veteran quarterback. What is the best-case scenario? Getting a lower draft pick? In the same draft where Washington will pick in the first round for the first time since drafting Griffin in 2012?
Gruden is drawing a line in the sand. Either celebrity spokesperson RG3 or Gruden won’t be with the Redskins in 2015. This may be the best thing for Gruden in the here and now, but it’s certainly not the best thing for the Redskins franchise.
– Charlie Bernstein