It took some time for the city of D.C. to rid themselves of the night sweats and complete the entire process of finally getting the addictive, explosive, but unreliable drug called Robert Griffin III out of its system.
Fresh off the 2011 Heisman, the braided bandit's legendary rookie season in 2012, which culminated in a playoff berth, swept through Chocolate City like an epidemic. His exploits dominated the dialogue in the nation’s capital during that season, which now seems decades ago.
The magic of RGIII has transformed into the tragedy of RGIII as injuries and public conflicts with coaches, along with the pressures of celebrity life, have left him in football limbo. He’s a QB without a true home.
Somebody named Cousins is sleeping in his king-sized bed and he's been relegated to a sleeping bag on the front porch; uncertain of his future and distrusting of a body that once brought him to the brink of football immortality.
We warned of that potential downfall in the 2013 Shadow League piece, "What About Bob?"
Actually...it’s like a dream that we swore was real, but never really happened.
(Photo Credit: USA Today)
Cousins has kept it from becoming a nightmare and has a chance to officially coffin the “RGIII Skins Saga” with a win over Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Wild Card game at FedEx Field. The game is slated for a 4:40 pm ET start.
There is a silver lining in every tragedy. The positive results might take years to materialize but that 2012 Draft is still being analyzed and assessed. Four years later, Cousins, a fourth-round side note in a QB-plentiful draft that also produced Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill, is proving to be the DC Destroyer everyone thought Griffin was going to be.
In between RGIII’s yearly injuries, concussions and inconsistent play, Cousins was always on deck, showing flashes of potential, but getting little public support as a “franchise” QB. Most considered him a stop-gap until the anointed one returned.
When Griffin suffered a dislocated left ankle in the first quarter of the team's second game of the 2014 season, it was the last time he would be carted off the field as the NFL's most electrifying QB. It was also the official beginning of “The Kirk Cousins Era”, as the Michigan State product finished with 250 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns in relief.
The postgame co-sign from up top signified a new day in Washington.
“I feel like we can win any game with Kirk Cousins,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said, via the team's website. “Kirk is a special guy. … He can handle it mentally, and obviously, physically. I feel like he can make every throw in the book, and we are going to move forward with Kirk.”
No more looking over one shoulder for the oncoming defender, and the other shoulder to see if RGIII is warming up on the sidelines.
Gruden relegated Griffin to the bench. Cousins proceeded to illuminate out of the shadows of one of the NFL’s all-time marketing maniacs to become (statistically) the dopest Redskins aerial maestro in franchise history. Week 7's 24-point comeback win against Jameis and Tampa was his legacy game to date.
In addition to leading the Redskins to their first NFC East title since 2012, Cousins established club records for completions (379) and passing yardage in a season with 4,166. The Skins have had some bad boys under center and the franchise has three Super Bowl victories to show for it.
Sonny Jurgensen, Sammy Baugh, Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien were all lethal weapons in their day.
Cousins made mincemeat of their stats (impressive despite the fact that it was accomplished in a pass-crazy, defensively-restricted era of football). He also set a franchise record for most completions in a game (33) and led the NFL in completion percentage.
This kid deserves every bit of the success he’s earned and can continue to leave RGIII’s looming shadow in the dust with a playoff run.
I doubt that a 9 -7 Washington squad will prevail in a tough NFC. However, the probability is no less likely than Cousins’ chances of rising to the top of the DC QB heap four short seasons ago.