- - Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Kirk Cousins slew a few demons on Sunday in Seattle.

First, there was the carcass of one he thought he had already done away with: Robert Griffin III — who resurfaced last week with a social media campaign and an interview with 106.7 The Fan to remind everyone that he was the victim in the Griffin-Cousins battle at Redskins Park, inferring that Cousins was Mike Shanahan’s chosen one, not Griffin.

Then there was the quarterback on the other side of the ball for Seattle — Russell Wilson, who, in case you have forgotten, was Shanahan’s first choice in the 2012 draft if available, not Cousins.

Leading a gutsy 17-14 win over the Seahawks in Seattle, Cousins buried both of those demons. He sent Griffin — now out of the league — back to his video games and superhero toys, and in a duel with Wilson, the fourth-quarter comeback master, that he could match his heroics, under far more difficult circumstances.

That was the greatness of Cousins on Sunday — his poise under pressure. His composure surrounded by chaos.

Cousins had an offensive line that needed name tags, with four starters — Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, Spencer Long and Shawn Lauvao out with injuries.

He had unproven offensive weapons at his disposal.

Consider this — there were 268 receptions from last season that were not on the field — departed Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, plus injured tight end Jordan Reed and receiver Jamison Crowder. A rushing game that is ranked 22nd in the league, and that is an illusion. That rushing attack gained 51 yards against the Seahawks — 2.2 yards per carry.

Yet Cousins kept his cool, kept this patchwork team focused, and, when it counted the most — at the end of the game, the championship rounds in NFL football — he delivered the game-winning drive, the second remarkable offensive drive Cousins engineered. And he did all this in the most difficult place to play in the league, against a team that had lost just six games in Seattle since 2012.

Seattle’s Michael Bennett said it best when describing Cousins‘ 31-yard pass completion to Brian Quick on that final Washington drive. “We got pressure on the quarterback,” Bennett told reporters. “He just made a great play. We smacked him.”

There was pressure on Cousins the moment he stepped on the field. They smacked him early and often, starting with a safety that gave the Seahawks a 2-0 lead. And how did he respond? With great plays. Under those circumstances, that is playing great.

But that’s still not enough for a segment of this damaged Redskins fanbase, a segment that has turned the weekly Cousins contract referendum into something ugly. Then again, it’s hard to separate the ugly when it comes to the business of the Washington Redskins.

The weekly referendum on Cousins is going on three years now, set in motion by the Redskins dysfunctional front office that failed to lock up Cousins to an affordable, long-term deal several years ago. And it will reach a new level this off season, as the debate may center on whether or not Washington should franchise Cousins for a third time, paying him $34 million next year, on top of the $20 million he collected last season and the $24 million he is receiving this year.

That’s a lot of money for a quarterback on a .500 team.

The issue of paying Cousins is not about the quarterback — it’s about the ability of the Prince of Darkness, Redskins team president Bruce Allen, to put the parts around Cousins to break out of their mediocre purgatory.

Paying one player $34 million will require some excellent personnel decision-making to build the rest of the roster. There is no reason to believe those in charge at Redskins Park are capable of that.

Of course, the other option is to trade Cousins or let him walk, and draft a quarterback next season. In the NFC East, where you see bargain-basement quarterbacks like Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott leading winning teams, that option is tempting.

The issue, though, remains the same — are you confident that those in charge at Redskins Park are capable of selecting the next Wentz or Prescott? There is no reason to believe that, either.

Cousins, meanwhile, will continue to slay demons, the last one being the team he plays for — the Washington Redskins.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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