Robert Griffin III's status for the Washington Redskins vs. Cleveland Browns Week 15 matchup is still up in the air. He was listed as a limited participate at practice on Wednesday, Dec. 12., according to an AP report (via SI.com).
The report quotes Griffin as keeping his playing status under wraps so as to not give Cleveland a "competitive advantage."
Without Griffin, the Redskins offense falls into the hands of fellow rookie QB Kirk Cousins. The former fourth-round draft pick was brought in as an insurance policy should the oft-rushing RGIII take some bumps and bruises during his rookie season.
In hindsight, that was a very smart call for an organization that invested the future of its franchise by packaging multiple first-round picks to trade up for a rookie quarterback.
So what does Cousins bring to the table and what does it mean for the Redskins if Griffin misses this week or any of their remaining games?
Cousins, 24, has appeared in two games this season. He has completed 7-of-11 passes for 137 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
His first action came in the team’s seven-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5. He tossed a go-ahead 77-yard TD to Santana Moss, but then threw two interceptions in the final two minutes to give the game to Atlanta.
Next was his heroic Week 14 performance and overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens. Griffin was knocked out of the game with close to no time left to play.
Cousins entered with a 2nd-and-20 situation and completed back-to-back passes to get the Skins into the end zone. Then, he took a QB sneak up the middle for a two-point conversion that sent the game into overtime.
Overall, his body of work has been too small to gauge how the Skins would benefit from having him in the game. It certainly changes their approach, though, as Cousins is not going to run the read-option that has made Griffin so successful.
Game-planning for and misreading that play has led to many heartaches for opposing defenses this season.
Cousins would give a much more conventional approach, one that may exploit some of the weaknesses of the Redskins offense. Without the added threat of Griffin, can the Redskins offense be as explosive down the field?
Its wide receivers have certainly shown to be able to stretch the field, but that is, for the most part, with the added dimension provided by the threat of the run on every play.
Griffin threw nine of his 17 touchdowns on play-action passing leading up until last week’s matchup against Baltimore, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
The running game will still be there, but the level of threat with Griffin in the game has made the deep passing game so much more poignant. It won’t be the same without him in there.
Three consecutive wins over Cleveland, Dallas and Philadelphia could be problematic without that threat. If Washington loses just one game, they could find themselves on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
It wouldn’t be the worst-case scenario for a rookie QB’s first season in the league, but it would be disappointing nonetheless.
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