We’re just going to throw this out there, and if you don’t like it, you can throw it back. We won’t attempt to draw any definitive conclusions either, or read too deeply into the mind, words, and body language of one Pierre Garcon, the Redskins receiver who appeared on ESPN earlier this morning to discuss the state of his team’s offense. You know, the offense that might be playing without Robert Griffin III this week.
Although plenty of good news percolated yesterday regarding Griffin’s injury and his potential playing status this week, the situation is still very difficult to forecast. Which sucks, because when it comes to injuries, fantasy owners need a beautifully sunny forecast. We’d all like to just know Griffin isn’t playing right now if that’s the case so we can begin taking the necessary measures to deal with that reality.
Of course, the Redskins care not for your fantasy implications and the potential monetary gains that accompany them, and for the rest of this week we’ll likely hear very little regarding Griffin’s status before he enters the weekend with the ol’ game-time decision tag. Awesome.
But hey Pierre Garcon, you spend some time in the Redskins’ locker room. Do you have any inside information that you’d like to accidentally spit out to a national audience?
You know what, screw it. If we live in a world where a blogger can’t speculate wildly, then schedule me for death now. Choose your weapon, but dammit don’t you dare kill me with forced Honey Boo Boo viewing. I’ve been better than that.
What we’re watching is one of two things: either Garcon sank a few ships with loose lips before he was stopped and his thought process was corrected, or he has an even wiser Jedi mind. He could have said this to mess with the Browns (Washington’s Week 15 opponent), and plant doubt as the Redskins enter another must-win game.
We’ve reviewed the fantasy implications for the Griffin owner if he doesn’t play (death) while also scouring the waiver wire for desperate replacement options. But what about the rest of the offense if Kirk Cousins starts?
We have very little numbers to judge Cousins with due to the small sample size he’s given us in meaningful NFL games. Back in Week 5 he looked, well, like a rookie in his first game appearance while coming in for an injured RGIII when he suffered his concussion against the Falcons, needing only nine pass attempts to throw two interceptions. In total on his 11 attempts this season he’s completed seven of them with two touchdowns and those two picks, and the highlight of his season was a 77-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss.
There’s some concern about his footwork, though, and now those poor fundamentals could lead to wayward or underthrown balls. Here’s how astute game film analyzer and draftnik Matt Waldman assessed Cousins prior to last spring’s draft for Football Outsiders:
An arm talent like Jay Cutler can make power throws with a high level of difficulty without good footwork, but a player like Cousins needs torque from his hips to generate good velocity. The main thing he needs to do is step into his release more consistently. Although Cousins told the media before his senior year that he worked on stepping into throws, there was no evidence that his offseason work translated to the playing field.
This is a bad sign, because as polished as Cousins’ image is, it’s not a leap to assume that he either worked on the wrong things or he didn’t work hard enough. His subpar footwork plagued him all year and will hold him back if he doesn’t address it early in his NFL career.
OK, so that sounds, um, bad.
But the Cousins we saw last week didn’t look like a quarterback who’s struggling with footwork. He was mobile — not RGIII mobile, but mobile — and the touchdown pass he completed to Garcon which led to the game-tying two-point conversion against Baltimore was completed on the run while he was fading on his back foot. That’s not easy stuff, kids.
Doubters will continually point to his small sample size, and there’s no counter for that as Cousins potentially starts to prepare for a secondary that features Joe Haden, and a Browns front seven with 34 sacks (7th). But purely from an observational standpoint, I don’t anticipate a major step down for the Redskins’ receivers and Alfred Morris.
But there will be a step downwards of some kind to be sure. At worst Garcon will remain a flex play, although between Cousins’ presence and Haden opposing him, he may fall to a low-end one depending on how the rest of your roster shakes out. Morris’ value increases simply due to the uptick in touches he’s sure to receive, though it’s difficult to project how much the disappearance of the option offense for one week will effect his production, and the holes available to him. You’re still starting Morris, but you may want to downgrade him to an RB2 as both you and him learn that Griffin is more than just a stupidly good quarterback.
He’s the anchor of a unique offense. Without his read-option threat defenders aren’t forced to make difficult split-second decisions, so their eyes will focus more firmly on Morris whenever Cousins reaches for a handoff. That might not end well.