3 & Out: Kirk Cousins takes over

3 & Out: Kirk Cousins takes over
December 11, 2013, 6:00 pm
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3 & out: Shanahan leaving plenty of questions unanswered

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) makes a call against the Cleveland Browns during the first quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

(Ron Schwane-USA)

When the Redskins face the Falcons on Sunday in Atlanta, they’ll be attempting to end an ugly, five-game losing streak. But the outcome won’t be the big story, at least from Washington’s perspective. Instead, it will be the team’s controversial quarterback situation and the tenuous status of head coach Mike Shanahan.

Here are three storylines we’ll be monitoring over the next few days:

1st down—Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder for a 3-10 team that hasn’t won in more than a month, they did on Wednesday. The team decided to deactivate Robert Griffin III for the final three games and turn to backup Kirk Cousins as the starter. The reason? Shanahan says the organization decided it wants to keep Griffin healthy so he can develop in the offseason; the quarterback has been sacked 24 times in the last five games.

2nd down—Which leads to so many other questions. If Shanahan isn’t sure he’ll be around in 2014 for the fifth and final year on his contract—and that certainly seems to be the direction things are headed—why is he so concerned about Griffin’s health? Wasn’t Shanahan saying just a week ago Griffin needed to use the final few games to get valuable game reps and improve? And now he says it’s more important for Griffin to stay healthy. Something doesn’t sound right.

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3rd down—If you can get past all that, there actually is one thing worth watching Sunday: Cousins’ performance. He started one game as rookie last year and led the Redskins to a 38-21 victory in Cleveland. But he hasn’t looked sharp in two relief appearances this season, completing only 48 percent of his passes, throwing two interceptions and no touchdowns. Now he gets the chance to hit the reset button—and perhaps show the rest of the NFL that he’s worthy of being a starter.