I think I’ve read this script before.
Talented backup quarterback is promoted to first string, either because of injury or lack of performance by the established starter. Backup quarterback leads his team to surprising success, setting the stage for either a quarterback controversy or a payday.
We see this play out all over the league on a regular basis. This season, Nick Foles is setting the standard for what a backup is capable of, as he lost the preseason quarterback competition to Michael Vick, only to lead the Eagles into playoff contention after Vick got hurt.
Matt Flynn famously did this for Green Bay during the 2011 season and earned himself a starting contract. Funnily enough, he’s attempting the same feat for the Packers this year after several failed stints as a starter.
Now, it appears to be Kirk Cousins’ turn. The Redskins backup, who has won plenty of high regard with his play behind Robert Griffin III, appears slated to start this week for Washington after the Redskins were destroyed, 45-10, by Kansas City on Sunday.
It’s not Cousins’ first time in the starting role. During this exact week last season, with Griffin injured, he completed 70 percent of his passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns in a win against Cleveland.
With Griffin struggling and seemingly still dealing with recovery from his ACL injury, Cousins looks likely to get an extended stay in the starting lineup. With the Redskins out of playoff contention, it seems unwise to risk the franchise quarterback in meaningless games. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan cited 24 sacks taken by Griffin in the past five weeks on Monday when discussing the possibility of sitting the starter.
There’s no guarantee any of this carries into Week 16, when the Cowboys travel to Washington D.C. to face the Redskins. But it certainly seems likely Cousins’ audition will stretch toward the end of the season.
On the surface, it’s the logical choice to prefer to face the team’s backup – the lesser talent between the two options. But with Washington’s lousy record, not to mention the whirlwind of publicity around Griffin this season, the Redskins may be struggling from mental fatigue.
If the story follows the script, the backup may freshen up the Redskins’ offense in the final three weeks. Washington plays two lousy teams in Atlanta and New York, and sandwiched between those games is a chance to wreck the Cowboys’ playoff hopes.
My early prediction is the Redskins will respond well to the change.