Last year, the Washington Redskins made the playoffs for the second time in eight seasons – and for the first time since Robert Griffin III’s rookie year. Washington went 9-7 and added several talented players in free agency, including shutdown corner Josh Norman.
So, was last year a random blip on the radar, or the beginning of a Redskins renaissance?
“I think it’s the beginning of a Redskins renaissance,” Super Bowl champion Joe Theismann said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “First of all, they have stability at the quarterback position. It’s only been three times in the last nine years that the Redskins have had a head coach, both coordinators and the starting quarterback all together for successive seasons. There’s been so many changes that have taken place that it’s very difficult to get any kind of continuity. . . . I like where they’re going. I like the foundation that’s being built – a lot.”
That quarterback, of course, is Kirk Cousins, who threw for 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and nearly 4,200 yards last season. He also ran for five touchdowns and was one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league.
“I had breakfast with him this morning,” Theismann said. “When you look at his body of work last year, the last nine games he was the best quarterback in football. I’ll put him against anybody. Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady – you name the best in the game, and Kirk had better stats going forward. The Redskins were 9-8 and that didn’t sit very well. It doesn’t mean that they were that good of a football team when you lose eight and only win nine games, but they came on strong when people got healthy. I think their skill position is as talented as anybody in football. I think for Kirk, (a 70) percent (completion percentage) is going to be hard to repeat, but he’s looking for consistency.”
Cousins, it is worth noting, didn’t know he’d be the starter until right before the season last year.
“Now there’s been an entire offseason where the coordinator now understands his quarterback better,” Theismann said. “I think you’ll see that manifest itself through the season.”
Cousins, who completed 69.8 percent of his passes last season, will once again have Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson at his disposal, not to mention first-round pick Josh Dotson. Then again, that’s assuming that the 22nd overall pick can actually get healthy. Dotson has a lingering Achilles injury that caused Chris Cooley to question his desire and love of football.
Theismann thought Cooley’s comments were out of bounds.
“I don’t agree with his assessment,” he said. “I think when somebody’s hurt, especially if you’re a receiver and you hurt your hands or you hurt your feet, that’s what you make your living doing. If it’s not 100 percent, it’s very difficult to be able to do your job. Why did they take Doctson in the first round? Well, both Pierre and DeSean are in the last year of contracts. Now, common sense would say you’re not going to be able to afford to keep both of them, so you draft a young wide receiver. They didn’t really have a very tall wide receiver. He’s the tallest guy they’ve had here in awhile. So I think the injury has set him back, but if you want to use a college term, this will be a redshirt year for him. It’ll be a year to get to know professional football, to understand what it takes to get ready, to learn the systems, to be in the classroom. He’s a very diligent student, but he just hasn’t been healthy enough to go out and compete.”
Theismann was also asked about the aforementioned Griffin, who will get a fresh start with the Browns.
“I think Hue Jackson is a great coach. It’s a great choice by Cleveland,” he said. “They still don’t have the supporting cast I think that they need around him, which they’re going to build to, but hopefully Robert can stay healthy. If he can stay healthy, he can learn to play the position out of the pocket, which he has to do. But I hope he has a good year. I’m thinking this will be a year that he reestablishes himself and everybody will start talking about Robert Griffin III the football player as opposed to a former Heisman Trophy winner.”
But is that the hope or the expectation?
“I think it’s hope right now,” Theismann said. “The expectations will come when you prove it.”