The Redskins head into week 15 with a matchup against the Giants and still more questions than answers for the most important position on the field: quarterback. There is not a true #1 on the roster.
The Skins need to build a stronger roster overall. However, until the quarterback position gets settled, they won’t have a chance to compete in the NFC East, let alone for a championship. In this week’s 3 points blog, we look at finding a QB for 2015.
Old Fashioned Competition
Barring an injury setback, head coach Jay Gruden will start Colt McCoy this weekend against the Giants. McCoy is the #1 guy right now in Gruden’s eyes, but he’s not under contract next season. He’s also not seen as a lock for starter next season – here or anywhere, for that matter.
The easiest option for the Skins next season would be to bring back the trio of quarterbacks: McCoy, Robert Griffin III, and Kirk Cousins. Certainly Cousins would like a shot at being a starter somewhere, and many still think he’s the quarterback Gruden has the most hope for in the long run.
However, the biggest decision will involve the guy the franchise sold the farm for, Robert Griffin III. He’s under contract for next season, but picking up his 5th year options seems like a long shot at this point. That decision needs to be made this off-season, and it would be costly – somewhere in the range of $15-16 million for 2016. The Redskins could try to trade Griffin during the off-season, but NFL teams all see the same films, and they haven’t been pretty this season (or last) for the former #2 overall pick.
There have been plenty of reports of a divide between the coach and front office on whether or not Griffin can still return to his 2012 form. Redskins owner Dan Snyder made a huge investment in RG3, and you can’t blame him or team manager Bruce Allen for trying to revitalize the talent that took the NFL by storm in 2012.
Despite reports that he has given up on Griffin, Gruden has not conveyed that at the podium. This week someone asked if Griffin would be a better fit in a different offense.
“Well, we’re hoping it will be this one eventually. You know, we try to cater to our players’ strengths and I don’t know what offense they are talking about. As far as the offenses that I have studied in the National Football League, we all run similar dropback concepts. Not everybody runs the zone read, we run the zone read to try to help him out. We run a lot more play-actions and bootlegs than most teams, so I don’t know, I don’t know what offense they are talking about. But we are working towards that and maybe they are right. We are trying to find the perfect fit for all our quarterbacks that can put them in a position to succeed. But I think eventually if you play quarterback in the National Football League, you’re going to have to drop back and throw it. That’s where we are trying to get him better at.”
Gruden could try another off-season, and let the competition be based on results not investment or jersey sales. Mike Shanahan and others thought it would take Griffin 4-5 years to become a polished pocket quarterback. So maybe giving Griffin another off-season and making him earn it will help speed up that process. IF Griffin comes up short, the Skins front office will need to support their coach’s decision.
The front office also will need to be prepared to potentially make a trade once the competition is over. If they don’t win the job, Griffin or Cousins could be traded before the deadline to at least get some value back. McCoy was brought in during the off-season with the idea that he could be a steady backup and successful spot-starter, if needed. There’s no reason to think that still can’t be the case, if one of the two young QBs moves back to #1 on the depth chart. Now it is up to one of them to seize the opportunity.
Dip Into Free Agency or Trade Market
This is not a pretty group of quarterbacks: Mark Sanchez, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Mallet are the ‘headliners.’ Sanchez would be crazy to leave Chip Kelly and Philadelphia, especially if he leads the Eagles to the playoffs. Hoyer is definitely done in Cleveland, but his shortcomings came to the forefront the last few weeks. As quickly as Mallet showed promise, he was injured. He also seems like a guy the Texans are going to keep around since they traded for him.
Other free agent possibilities are underwhelming and include former 2011 first rounders; Titans QB Jake Locker, Vikings Christian Ponder, and Blaine Gabbert. There are also inconsistent veterans like Michael Vick, Matt Flynn, and Matt Moore.
There is always the trade market. Jay Cutler could be done in Chicago. No thank you. Cutler seems like Jeff George 2.0. He has a talented arm, but awful demeanor and seems to lack any real leadership. Plus his contract is a killer 7-year, $126 (M) with $54(M) of it guaranteed. Recently there was a report the Bears are already having buyer’s remorse. It also turns out the team’s offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer made that comment.
I would much rather see the Redskins stick it out with in-house candidates or even draft someone, rather than dip into this “underwhelming” group.
This would be a long and tough road to take, considering the franchise drafted two quarterbacks in 2012. However, assuming Jay Gruden is still the Redskins’ head coach (that may be a dangerous assumption), he did not pick either one of their quarterbacks. There is no Andrew Luck in this draft. So it would take patience with whomever you brought in, which seems to eliminate this organization and fan base that has very little patience.
So as things stand right now, the Redskins at 3-10 are selecting 6th overall. That seems to be too low to draft soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariotta out of Oregon. Also, Mariotta would appear to have the same issues as RGIII, playing in an offense where the ball usually goes out to the first option. He’s a terrific athlete that has ability with his big arm and legs to make big plays. Despite having the most upside, Mariota is perhaps far from a finished product as a pocket passer.
There is also the former Heisman winner from Florida State, Jameis Winston (assuming he goes pro). Winston is a more polished passer than Mariota. He’s big, athletic, has a strong arm, and he’s a winner, too. He has led a program that has not lost in over two years.
He’s also brought big-time baggage off the field. Winston and the Redskins seem like a dangerous combination. This franchise is known for distractions, and Winston — albeit still young — has brought plenty to Florida State. That doesn’t mean he won’t become a big-time quarterback. But it probably would be better for all parties involved if it was somewhere other than Washington.
Another early draft option is UCLA QB Brett Hundley. He has the NFL size and arm that scouts love. Hundley also possesses touch and has a quick release. But there’s still some concerns: he has played mainly out of the shotgun and has good — not great — speed for a dual-threat quarterback. He would need some work, but is an interesting prospect that might not be selected in the first round.
It is hard to fathom the Redskins investing a 2nd high first-rounder in four years on a quarterback considering all of the other holes on the roster. If they’re smart, the Redskins will try to do what the Rams did back in 2012, and trade back while picking up extra picks. As important as the quarterback position is, there are teams in the NFL with strong rosters that are able to function with average quarterback play. Right now two of them are in first place in their respective divisions (Arizona and Cincinnati).
The Redskins need to strengthen their other units in order to make life easier for whoever ends up being the answer under center.