Monday, August 31, 2015

Jay Gruden: “Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015”

After saying for months that Robert Griffin III was his quarterback, Washington coach Jay Gruden reversed course today, saying that Cousins is the starter — and will remain the starter, meaning Griffin has no chance to unseat him.
“Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015, moving forward,” Gruden said. “It’s Kirk’s team.”
Of course, Gruden has changed his mind about his starting quarterback several times during his year and a half as Washington’s coach, so no one should be surprised if either Griffin or Colt McCoy ends up starting at some point. Gruden insisted that he thinks he has three good quarterbacks.
“Robert’s done some great things, no question. We have total faith in all three of them,” Gruden said. “We just feel like Kirk has earned the right to be the starting quarterback in 2015.”
Amid talk that owner Dan Snyder was pushing for the team to keep Griffin while the football people wanted to move on, Gruden said that starting Cousins is his call, but Snyder has always supported his calls.
“Mr. Snyder has been nothing but supportive of this football team,” Gruden said. “All Mr. Snyder wants to do is win.”
Gruden said the team does not plan to release Griffin, has he has not decided whether Griffin will be the second-string quarterback, or whether McCoy will be second and Griffin third. All he’ll say for sure is that Cousins is the starter, and will remain the starter.

Author: Michael David Smith
AP Photo: Tom Gannam,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Steelers sign Michael Vick to one-year deal; Bruce Gradkowski to IR

The Pittsburgh Steelers needed some insurance at quarterback, and Michael Vick needed a job.
The two sides came together after they met Tuesday morning for a physical, as Vick signed a one-year deal, the team announced. In a corresponding move, Bruce Gradkowski was placed on injured reserve after suffering a finger injury in the preseason game on Saturday against the Green Bay Packers.

All that was left behind Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback was Landry Jones, who has struggled thus far in the preseason.
Vick, who turned 35 this summer, spent last season with the New York Jets and completed 64-of-121 passes for 604 yards with three TDs and two INTs in 10 games (three starts). He also rushed for 153 yards on 26 carries (5.9 average) with no touchdowns.

Roethlisberger said Tuesday he'd be fine with Vick as a teammate even though Big Ben is a big dog advocate. Vick's dog-fighting past might have been years ago, but he still riles up some fans whenever his name is brought up.

Author: Eric Edholm (Shutdown Corner)
AP Photo: Bill Kostroun

Saturday, August 22, 2015

McCoy, Cousins continue to out-play RG3

If Washington’s quarterback depth chart were determined by on-field performance, Robert Griffin III would be firmly entrenched at third string.
Although coach Jay Gruden insisted after Thursday’s preseason game against the Lions that Griffin will remain the starter, that game showed once again what we’ve seen throughout Gruden’s tenure as Washington’s coach: Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins are simply playing better football than Griffin.
So far this preseason, McCoy has a 131.6 passer rating and has led Washington’s offense on three touchdown drives. Cousins has a 118.3 passer rating and has also led Washington’s offense on three touchdown drives. Griffin has a 54.6 passer rating, and Washington has yet to score a touchdown with Griffin on the field.
You can argue that the preseason is too small a sample size to draw any conclusions, and that Griffin is playing against better defensive players than Cousins and McCoy are. But Griffin’s sub-par performance goes beyond just this year’s preseason. Last year Griffin started seven games, Cousins started five and McCoy started four. Washington wasn’t a particularly good team no matter who was starting, but according to ESPN’s QBR system, which combines both statistics and film study into one number on a 0-100 scale, Griffin was easily the worst of the three. McCoy had a 46.9 QBR, Cousins had a 46.5 QBR and Griffin had a 33.5 QBR. The Football Outsiders DVOA system, which uses play-by-play data to assess quarterbacks, similarly had Griffin as by far the worst of Washington’s three quarterbacks.
Given all that, it’s surprising that Gruden is so adamant that Griffin will continue to start. Perhaps Gruden is still intrigued by the great promise Griffin showed in his rookie season. Perhaps Dan Snyder has told Gruden to give Griffin a chance. Perhaps Gruden just doesn’t think McCoy and Cousins are legitimate NFL starters.
But at some point, on-field results have to matter. And Griffin simply isn’t getting results.

Author: Michael David Smith
AP Photo: Tom Gannam,

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Panthers lose Kelvin Benjamin to torn ACL

An MRI has confirmed the worst fears of the Panthers after wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was carted off the practice field today.
Benjamin has torn his ACL, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network first reported and the Panthers have now confirmed. After a great rookie season, Benjamin will now have surgery and miss his second NFL season.
Benjamin made a cut on a pass route and crumpled to the ground without anyone touching him, immediately grabbing his knee. It didn’t look good, and although Panthers coach Ron Rivera said after practice that he was hoping it was just a sprain, that turned out not to be the case.
Last year Benjamin had 73 catches for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, and the Panthers were hoping for at least that much production again this year. Instead, it’s back to the drawing board for the Panthers, who will have to hope someone can emerge as an effective No. 1 receiver while Benjamin sits out.

Author: Michael David Smith
Photo: Charles Krupa, Associated Press

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