No, I don’t know why Mike Shanahan dropped Gary Kubiak’s name twice in a short span during his news conference Monday. I understood the first reference, because he was talking about no matter who his coordinators have been – current or in the past – he’s the one who makes decisions. That, of course, was in reference to a CBS Sports story saying that Kyle Shanahan gets whatever he wants.
When Mike Shanahan referenced Kubiak a second time it was a bit bizarre. It could be as simple as he had just talked to Kubiak during the day and had his name on his mind. But nothing is simple about Redskins Park these days. And when you know that there’s a chance the only way Shanahan stays is by having new coordinators - and Kubiak used to be his offensive coordinator -- then, well, you start to wonder. There’s a lot of wondering about what people say.
I agree with Shanahan when, in reference to Kirk Cousins, he says it’s only one game. He faced a bad Atlanta defense with three rookies in the secondary. It’s also true that Robert Griffin III did not carve up some bad pass defenses. Cousins made some excellent throws. He also turned it over three times, including twice off bad throws. Let this one play out and see how he teams adjust to him. He’s a smart, prepared passer, but he must cut down on the turnovers.
Are Cousins' interceptions a function of youth and inexperience or simply what he does? I know he had this reputation in college; one scout fretted about that before the 2012 draft. Time should tell. Cousins seems to learn, but not every quarterback grows out of throwing interceptions. He's definitely more aggressive with throws than Griffin, which can be both good and bad.
I also think Shanahan wanted to pump the brakes on this game on the chance that he does return for 2014. If Shanahan glows over how the offense moved the ball under Cousins, then what does that do for his relationship with Griffin going forward? There's a lot of work that needs to be done there. It's at the top of the list of some delicate issues that must be balanced at Redskins Park.
Linebacker Brian Orakpo continues to play well, but there’s no way I’d write it off as just motivation for a new contract. There are plenty of others on the Redskins who are in a contract drive, too, who aren’t doing anything. He did not play like this earlier in the season; he also was coming off a big injury.
If Orakpo’s effort had been questioned in the past, I’d view this solely as a contract drive. It wasn’t questioned in the past. He’s not Albert Haynesworth. A new contract is a great motivator – and pass-rushers know they must put up numbers to get paid. So, sure, he has incentive. But that notion isn’t helping other teammates who are pending free agents.
And if you write off what he’s done because it came against a bad team, then you have to dismiss every other performance in that game for the same reason. Orakpo is a good player who is playing well. And he’ll get paid because of it. The question is: by whom?
Aldrick Robinson had the sort of game that keeps him intriguing, with four catches for 99 yards. And thus I can quit writing this line: No Redskins wide receiver other than Pierre Garcon has surpassed 80 yards in the past two seasons. Robinson is the first Redskins wideout not named Garcon to crack that mark since Donte Stallworth did it on Dec. 11, 2011. That covered a span of 32 games.
Robinson leads the Redskins with five catches of 30 yards or more. No other Redskins wide receiver, aside from Garcon, has any catches for at least 30 yards. Josh Morgan, also in a contract drive, has one catch over 20 yards this season.
I’d shut Jordan Reed down for the season. If he’s missed four games with a concussion and is still having headaches, why play him even if they go away for a few days?