- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Apparently, the Washington Redskins’ brain trust still is suffering side effects from last year’s painful experiment, when it tried to swallow a dose of Rex Grossman and John Beck at quarterback for a full season.

We thought it was over once the team traded three No. 1s and a second-rounder to move up in the draft. We figured the symptoms would fade away when Robert Griffin III’s name was called. We believed his selection started the healing process.

But we underestimated the effects of last season’s quarterback play. The toxic trial left emotional scars at the conscious level and below. Exposure to their self-inflicted irritant left coach Mike Shanahan & Co. weak. They feared further repercussions when the fourth round rolled around.

That’s the only explanation for using the 102nd pick on a player they hope never sees the field.

This is no knock on former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, the Redskins’ surprise fourth-round selection. He seems like a great guy, smart and a hard worker. He might evolve into an exceptional NFL backup or even a starter one day.

But no one wants him to play here. “I’m hoping Robert, for the next 10 years, never misses a game, and we keep our fingers crossed that that happens,” Shanahan said.

I understand that Cousins is a value pick. Shanahan called him “a steal” at the 102nd pick. And we’re reminded each NFL season that a good backup QB can be crucial.

But when a team averages five wins over three seasons, needs more talent and doesn’t have another first-round pick until 2015, backup quarterbacks in the fourth round are more luxury than necessity. Steal or not, the Redskins couldn’t afford it after spending a fortune for RG3.

“I was shocked,” Cousins said Monday on the Dan Patrick Show, “knowing what they had done with the No. 2 pick, and that I hadn’t talked to them that much in the whole process.”

He shouldn’t have any problem making the roster, but teams seek impact from mid-draft picks. Wise choices can become huge difference-makers.

In 2011, Seattle selected cornerback Richard Sherman in the fifth round and he earned All-Rookie honors. Tampa Bay drafted wideout Mike Williams with the 101st pick in 2010 and he led all rookies in catches, yards and TDs — the same year New England drafted Aaron Hernandez with the 113th pick. Four years earlier, Kansas City drafted defensive end Jared Allen with the 126th pick.

Having Cousins on the sideline with a clipboard might give Shanahan peace of mind, but it won’t help the offense convert third downs or help the defense get off the field. The main result might be wondering how Cousins would fare in Griffin’s place.

“Coach Shanahan was in San Francisco with Joe Montana and Steve Young,” Cousins said, “so he’s not new to this, and I know he’s gonna do all he can to make it work.”

Good grief. This isn’t a Montana-Young scenario. Shanahan has gone out of his way to squash any hint of controversy. Griffin is the franchise quarterback. Cousins is the franchise backup. Congratulations.

“I think it’s very important that for Robert, myself, for the Redskins as a whole that we handle this thing the right way,” Cousins said. “I was involved in a couple of quarterback competitions in college, so this isn’t my first time being around the situation like this.”

Maybe he’ll come to the rescue if Griffin is injured. Maybe he’ll snatch the job if Griffin flops. Maybe he’ll fetch two second-round draft picks - like Matt Schaub did for Atlanta - if a team calls in three years.

Fine. But that’s a whole lot of maybes and ifs for a backup QB on a 5-11 team that just paid dearly for a starter. I guess Shanahan didn’t want to take any chances under center.

Which just proves that the Grossman-Beck Syndrome hasn’t run its course.

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