When Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins takes the field tomorrow at Cleveland Browns Stadium, it will be his first official start in 350 days.
Cousins, then a senior at Michigan State, last started Jan. 2, 2012, when his Spartans took on Georgia in the Outback Bowl, a game in which Michigan State won, 33-30.
The Redskins announced tonight that Cousins — and not Robert Griffin III — will get the start tomorrow against the Browns. Griffin III — a rookie who has started every game this year for Washington — suffered a Grade 1 sprain of the LCL in his right knee last Sunday in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens. In relief, Cousins helped led the Redskins to a 31-28 overtime victory.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan told the media Friday that he would likely make his quarterback decision late tonight or early tomorrow. Griffin III tweeted this after a team meeting a few minutes ago:
The decision was not my own…
But I will be there for my team!!! In every way I possibly can—
Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) December 16, 2012
You wouldn’t expect anything more from Griffin III, a highly competitive player, but a team guy above all else.
Cousins, a fourth-round pick, faces a similar path as Redskins’ legendary quarterback Sonny Jurgensen. Jurgensen — also a fourth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1957 NFL Draft — started his first-career game vs. the Browns.
Cousins is tasked with keeping the momentum going for the Redskins (7-6), who have won four straight games and remain relevant in the NFC playoff picture. He faces an opportunistic Browns defense that is tied for sixth in the NFL with 21 sacks, and forced eight turnovers earlier this season vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.
You can’t help but imagine that Redskins’ rookie running back Alfred Morris will tote the rock more than usual against Cleveland. Morris — who ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards — is the reigning NFL Rookie of the Week and is facing a Browns defense that ranks 17th in the league against the run.
Another interesting aspect about tomorrow’s game with Cousins under center is how different the Redskins’ offense will look compared to when Griffin III as the team’s quarterback. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan likes to take advantage of Griffin III’s speed and quickness through their East Coast Offense, which features the read-option — will he abandon those types plays with Cousins playing quarterback?
We’ll all get our answers tomorrow.
What’s for sure, however, is that the Redskins’ coaching staff has a lot of confidence in Cousins, who had a prolific career at Michigan State.
On the field, he was the Spartans’ winningest quarterback in school history, was a three-time team captain and ranks first in school annals in pass completions (723), passing yards (9,131), touchdown passes (66), passing efficiency (146.1), 200-yard passing games (26) and total offense (9,004 yards).
Cousins’ off-the-field accolades, however, are more impressive. The 2012 fourth-round selection of the Redskins was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and graduated last December with a degree in kinesiology.
Among the other awards Cousins has collected along the way include the 2011 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award — given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in the NCAA Division I FBS — and was named to the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Class and was one of 16 finalists for the William V. Campbell trophy.
CHIME IN: What do YOU think of the decision to start Kirk Cousins at quarterback for the Redskins tomorrow vs. the Browns? Feel free to comment below.
Tags: Cleveland Browns, Kirk Cousins, Robert Griffin III, washington redskins
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