The Washington Redskins were trounced by the New York Jets on Sunday, 34-20. The Jets trailed 13-10 at halftime before pulling away in the second half, in a game that looked slightly closer than it actually was.
As has often been the case this season, the Redskins were plagued by multiple interceptions from quarterback Kirk Cousins. The game marked the fourth time this season that Cousins has thrown two interceptions, and he’s now thrown eight interceptions in six games — the third most in the league.
While Cousins’ high interception rate is itself troubling, it’s especially worrisome when you consider the fact that Washington hasn’t won a single game in which Cousins has thrown multiple interceptions. Whereas the Broncos, for example, are at least figuring out ways to win despite Manning’s high interception rate, the Redskins are entirely living and dying by Cousins’ interceptions — which, at the moment, means they are mostly dying.
Here’s the first interception:
And here’s the second:
Somehow, Washington head coach Jay Gruden does not seem worried about Cousins. In fact, he passed the buck completely after the game when asked to explain the high rate of interceptions (all quotes via the Washington Post):
“Yeah I don’t know. I’ll have to look at the film. Like I said — also, it was little windy. But, and also, [there was] a lot of pressure on him.”
OK, let’s take Gruden’s word for it and assume it was a little windy, which explains Cousins’ second interception. But Gruden also had this to say:
“But overall, you hate to pin this game on Kirk. I know he could have played better, but we had no running game whatsoever. Kirk’s not at this stage in his career right now — nor is anyone on our roster — to carry the team throwing the ball as much as we would have had to today.”
Now, as Ryan van Bibber of SB Nation notes, it’s not unusual for head coaches to protect their starting quarterback, rather than blaming them entirely for a team’s problems on offence. Coaches do this all the time.
But compare Gruden’s comments from Sunday to what he said about Robert Griffin III after the team lost to Tampa Bay last year:
“Robert had some fundamental flaws. His footwork was below average. He took three-step drops when he should have taken five. He took a one-step drop when he should have taken three on a couple occasions and that can’t happen. He stepped up when he didn’t have to step up, and he stepped into pressure. He read the wrong side of the field a couple times.
… it’s not even close to good enough to what we expect from the quarterback position.”
It is important to note that this quote came after Griffin threw multiple interceptions, too. It’s also worth nothing that 2.2% of Griffin’s passes are intercepted, while Cousins throws an interception 4.3% of the time. Griffin is currently third on the Redskins’ depth chart, but when he was the starter and turning the ball over frequently, Gruden was quick to give the ball to someone else. If Cousins continues to throw so many interceptions, Gruden might want to give second-string quarterback Colt McCoy a shot.
But if the quotes from yesterday’s loss are any indication, Gruden will be sticking with Cousins for the long haul, wind or no wind.
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