Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley discussed Robert Griffin III and the Redskins quarterback situation after a demonstration of the XFINITY X1 Sports app Thursday at the Comcast Lab in Washington, D.C.
Cooley said RG3 still needs to be more decisive and aware in the pocket to be a serviceable quarterback, while Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy are better prepared to help the Redskins win games this season.
Mike Frandsen, atombash.com: Do you think Robert Griffin III should be the Redskins starting quarterback?
Chris Cooley: That’s just…I want to know how to answer this question politically correctly. There’s so much that goes into it because you don’t know who’s tied to who, and what situation’s tied to what place, but I think you’re in an instance now where Robert has been given every opportunity. He has been given an entire offseason. I think the best situation for this team is for Robert to be the starting quarterback and win a bunch of games and for this organization in the long run for him to be great.
But I just don’t know if RG3 has shown that he can be great. I don’t know if he has shown that he can be healthy and not take hits. And I don’t know if he has shown over the preseason that he can, that he’s going to be the best guy to build an offense around. And I am not of the belief that if he goes to another offense or there’s another system for him that he’ll be great.
I think offense is offense. I think you still have to draw back and convert on third down at this point. I think either Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy give you a better opportunity to win eight games this season. And I don’t care which one. But I think either one of them gives you a better opportunity to win games.
atombash.com: Is it safe to say Cousins has a stronger arm than McCoy and may have more upside, but that McCoy may be better right now? If so might Jay Gruden prefer McCoy if he wants to win now?
Cooley: The realization that this team wants to win now and make the playoffs now I think is maybe far-fetched. It’s not impossible, but I don’t know if you’re building around Robert at this point. And the fact that Kirk threw picks last year doesn’t scare me. I think he threw picks in situations where he was trying to win games because he believed he had to win games. Even late in games that he was out of, he believed that there was still a chance and started throwing it up.
Those are mistakes that Kirk made, but those are mistakes that you want a young quarterback to make. I want my young quarterback to see where he can throw the ball, see what he’s capable of, test his knowledge of defense, test his knowledge of offense, and learn from those mistakes. I’m not necessarily afraid of that. I think he’s going to move the ball. I think he’s going to give you a lot of opportunities and I think he’s going to give his playmakers a lot of opportunities. And I don’t think it’s questionable that Kirk has the stronger arm than Colt McCoy.
But I don’t think Colt McCoy is far off of what Kirk Cousins is. At this point today, I don’t think that you say he’s a stretch different as a professional player than Kirk. I guess my opinion based on the fact of where they are right now is that Kirk probably has the higher upside and the higher future if he’s given the chance to play. It’s just amazing how everything’s received by our media when you talk about any of these players.
atombash.com: What does RG3 have to do to become a better quarterback?
Cooley: He’s got to have a pre-snap process better than what he has now. He’s got to be able to watch the line of scrimmage and before the ball is snapped, know where am I getting extra pressure? Where do I want to check protections, what defensive front I’m facing, what are my outs as a quarterback in terms of checkdowns, and a flow of that pre-snap process throughout the play in the pocket.
He has to improve his skills and understanding of surroundings in the pocket because even if he starts throwing the ball better, he’s going to take hits the way he’s playing right now and I don’t think he can survive the hits that he’s taking. That’s unrealistic.
And then finally, what I really think he has to do to be better is take shots and anticipate throws, He plays too tentatively. I think he’s afraid to make mistakes. He needs to be willing to make mistakes, especially in the preseason. If he throws the pick, he throws the pick. We move on and we learn from it. But that’s when you really learn from film.
I don’t think you learn from film when you drop back, you pump one, you might have had it, you don’t throw it, you look again, you don’t have it and you take a hit. If we haven’t learned from that already then we’re not going to learn from that because we’ve played that game.
atombash.com: So RG3 needs to anticipate better and lead the receiver instead of waiting until he’s open?
Cooley: Yeah, and that just comes with trusting that he’s been coached to do it. And it’s not that he doesn’t know. I think he’s smart and he knows. I just think he’s got to let himself go. And then his receiver will make a play, and sometimes throw it where he wants his receiver to be. Throw him open.
atombash.com: Can you comment on the controversy that a few people said Gruden may not have given RG3 the best opportunities to succeed in the preseason game against Detroit?
Cooley: Ok, so that’s absolutely false. I think Gruden has given Robert every opportunity. I think this relationship between the two of them is completely fine. I think that that they talk, I think they’ve worked together and I think Gruden realized the best thing for him as a coach moving forward was to have RG3 be the starter. The best thing for everyone is to have RG3 start and win a bunch of games. It just is. The way he played in 2012 was electric, it was fun, it was exciting to be around and everyone wants to play that type of football.
It’s just that he’s not there yet right now. And I’ve really been proud of the way Jay has handled himself. He went to bat for Robert in every press conference since he started this preseason and I think he’s stood up for him completely and there have been instances where he didn’t have to.
atombash.com: Some people think you’ve been too hard on RG3. What do you think about that?
Cooley: I’m 100 percent straightforward with the information that I see and the information that I know on how RG3 has played. I’m not going to make excuses for anybody’s play. And I’m not going to make excuses for Kirk’s play or Colt’s play if they’re in as a starting quarterback.
They’ve played better when they’ve been in as a starting quarterback, and so me being too hard I think is completely false. Me not being a true Redskin because I’m hard on some of these guys is completely false. I’ll tell you the truth about how he played and if that’s hard, that’s what it is.
Next: Cooley discusses his attempt to come back to the NFL.