Posts Tagged ‘Joe Flacco’

Washington was Right About Cousins All Along

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

by Gus Griffin







With the agreement to acquire Kansas City QB Alex Smith, the marriage between Washington and its QB, Kirk Cousins, is all but over. Though Smith’s contract extension details have yet to come out, my guess is that it is front loaded for him and back end friendly, which would allow Washington to get out should he start to decline quickly. Cousins will become a free agent and command in the range of $27-29 million per year, making him the highest paid player in the league.

The issue was not if Washington would have saved money signing QB Kirk Cousins to a long-term deal two years ago. They obviously would have. If I had purchased a nice car in 2016, it would have cost me less than in 2018. But could I have afforded the maintenance and up-keep necessary for that vehicle to function at its maximum best? If the answer is no, why buy the car?

The issue was if they had signed him, would they have been any better off than the Baltimore Ravens have been since they re-signed Joe Flacco? Is Kirk Cousins a top 5-10 caliber QB that will keep you in the hunt for a Super Bowl every year? If the answers to these two questions are no, then Washington was right all along about Cousins.

Kirk Cousins is a more than adequate starting NFL QB. He was never as bad as ESPN talk show host Bomani Jones suggested, comparing him to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He also is not a top 5-10 guy, which is the only QBs teams should lock up with the big money.  The two glaring concerns I have about Cousins as a QB are: 1) that he is not a confident down field passer; and 2) he is not a good improviser. These happen to be the two QB aspects that defenses fear the most. They do not fear a guy whom they know will stay in the pocket and throw short passes most of the day. That is what Kirk Cousins has been.

It’s about now when some reading this will respond with stats. They do in fact look good for Cousins over the past 3 seasons. They are also terribly misleading. At no time in football history have QB stats been as artificially embellished as they are today. There are several factors that have created this environment: 1) the generational influence of the West Coast offense which emphasizes the short passing game (of which Washington Head coach Jay Gruden is a disciple) and; 2) increased defensive sophistication in scheming, especially in taking away big plays.  As a result, what was at one time the 3rd or 4th option, the check down pass to a back has now become the second and sometimes primary target. This leads to higher pass completion percentages and appeals to the defensive-minded coaches as well, as it is more risk averse. These same coaches are from the school of thought that says, “just don’t lose us the game”. This philosophy leads to a game manager mindset in the QB and less down field passes.

Don’t feel bad for Cousins. He is going to benefit greatly from a perfect storm of factors, most of all being the fact that the demand for quality QBs so far outweighs the supply. That is how the likes of Brock Osweiller and Mike Glennon could cash in and neither are near as good as Cousins. Some team will make Cousins the highest paid QB/player in league history. That’s just the way this thing works.

It’s not that you can’t win a Super Bowl with Kirk Cousins as your QB. You can. The 2000 Ravens won with Trent Dilfer, the 2002 Bucs won with a Brad Johnson past his prime, and of course the 2015 Broncos won with a washed-up Peyton Manning. What did all 3 of those teams have in common: all-time great defenses and the inability to sustain the success on an annual basis. Bill Cowher kept my Steelers in contention with a QB list of Neil O’Donnell, Kordell Stewart, and Tommy Maddox. But they could not get over the hump until Big Ben came. The Steelers were also an aberration in that they draft and develop players on an exceptionally high level, which makes them less desperate to over pay to sign free agents or re-sign their own proven players.

Don’t let this year’s NFL conference champion QBs fool you. Yes, you can win with a less than top 5-10 QB, but good luck at sustaining a team in the Super Bowl hunt without one. There are only two viable tactics for getting an NFL QB: you either lock up the top 5-10 guy to a long-term deal or you get a guy at a discount and invest the rest in your defense and other areas of your team. What hamstrings a team is when it locks up a guy in the 12-15 range, which is where Cousins is, to a long term deal that won’t allow it to add the talent around him.

Washington concluded this about Cousins and they were right. As one analyst put it, they wanted a prenuptial agreement with him and he found it insulting and refused to sign it, knowing what he could get on the free market. I don’t blame either side.


Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

Super Bowl XLVII Preview

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

by Brandon Pemberton





While it’s the day we’ve been looking forward to since training camps opened up in July, it’s also bittersweet, knowing that the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens are playing the final game of the 2012 NFL season on Sunday.  There are plenty of good stories related to the big game: Jim and John Harbaugh are the coaches and brothers, born only 15 months apart and coming from a father Jack, who was a good coach himself.  Ray Lewis is playing in his final game, win or lose and the story that he used a banned substance to speed up his recovery from his torn triceps has trumped the fact that his 17-year illustrious career is coming to a close.   Finally we have 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick who will being starting only his 10th game of his career –  In New Orleans at Super Bowl XLVII, which by far is the most important and intriguing story of them all.  The fate of the 49ers for the most part lays on his shoulders.  I will preview and breakdown the game: Offensively, Defensively, and on Special teams and give you my winner.

Joe Flacco (l); Colin Kaepernick (r)










49ers: When head coach Jim Harbaugh decided to stick with Colin Kaepernick and make him the 49ers starting QB after Alex Smith went down with a concussion, he was taking a big risk.  A move like that could split the locker room and possibly cost a team that already was good enough to make the Super Bowl, their season.  But Kaepernick has been 7-2 as a starter (including 2-0 playoffs), adding a big play dimension to the 49ers that they lacked with Alex Smith at the helm.  The 49ers utilize the zone read and read option very well with Kaepernick’s ability to use his legs, opening up more passing lanes off of play action and it also gives more running room for running backs Frank Gore and LaMichael James.  They will have a tough task running up against the stout front of the Ravens, but they will and have shown the tendency to keep running the ball, to keep teams honest.

The 49ers passing game is much more explosive with Kaepernick’s strong arm and the 49ers receivers are benefiting from it.  Vernon Davis had 5 catches for 106 yards and a TDs two weeks ago versus the Falcons.  Randy Moss had 3 catches for 46 yards, his best performance in a while.  While most think he his just a running QB, Kaepernick has shown the ability to throw accurate strikes from the pocket.  Look for the 49ers to attack the Ravens linebackers and safeties in the passing game with tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker and with a fast running backs like LaMicheal James.  I think that’s going to be the key for the 49ers offensively to beat the Ravens.


Ravens: The Baltimore offense is led by Joe Flacco who has thrown for eight TD’s and no interceptions in three playoff games thus far.  Flacco has proved the doubters wrong about his ability to perform and win big games and is one game away from being in the “Elite” class of QB’s.  This Ravens offense has been on fire, scoring 30 points per game in the playoffs.  The one-two punch of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce have been very effective, averaging 148.2 yards during the playoffs and allowing Flacco to hit targets down the field via playaction.  Expect offensive coordinator Jim Cadwell to continue to feature the running game and take advantage of Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, and Dennis Pitta down field in the passing game.  Also, the Ravens offensive line must do a good job protecting Joe Flacco.  49ers linebacker Aldon Smith has been on a sack drought lately and could have a breakout game.

Ray Lewis (l); Patrick Willis (r)










49ers: The 49ers defense is led by the two best inside linebackers in all of football, Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman.  Watching them on film is a joy, they can do it all.  They are great against the run and even better defending the pass.  What the 49ers do scheme-wise is solely on Willis and Bowman’s ability to cover tight ends, running backs, and some slot receivers effectively.  The 49ers are usually stout against the run and they must be ready for the Ravens stubborn, but effective rushing attack.  Their defensive backs must play better as well.  There were times vs the Falcons in which the safeties were caught out of position and allowed receivers to get behind them.  The Ravens passing game is predicated on getting the ball down the field.  Aldon and Justin Smith must put pressure on Ravens QB Joe Flacco and force him to make errant throws and possibly turn the ball over.

Ravens: The Ravens defense is playing its best football of the year at the right time.  During the season, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, and obviously Terrell Suggs were all hurt and not at 100%.  But during the playoffs, they have looked like the Ravens defense of old, allowing just over 14 points per game, not counting the 14 points their special teams unit allowed to Denver on two returns.  When watching the coach’s tape, three players that aren’t household names: cornerbacks Carey Williams and Corey Graham, and Inside Linebacker Dannell Ellerbee, jumped off the screen.  Williams and Graham have been excellent in the playoffs, challenging receivers with press, man-to-man coverage and disrupting the routes and timing.  Dannell Ellerbee has been great, especially in pass coverage, covering the open areas of the field that Ray Lewis can’t at this point of his career.

Ray Lewis is obviously their emotional leader, clearly not the same player he once was, but he still gets his team in the right places pre-play and uses knowledge and smarts to make plays.  Ed Reed will definitely pose a problem for the young QB Colin Kaepernick.  He has baited the best of quarterbacks into throwing a pass they think he can’t get to, but he does.  An interception in a big spot could decide the football game.  Also, the defensive unit must play assignment, team defense when the 49ers go with their read option attack.  If everyone sticks to their assignment and guys defeat blocks and tackle, they will be fine.


Special Teams

49ers: Kicker David Akers broke an NFL record with 14 missed field goals, a year after having the best season of his career.  He’s been shaky all season and a bad performance by him could cost his team the game.  KR/PR Ted Ginn Jr. is a big play threat, and could help the offense with field position.

Ravens: Kicker Justin Hunter has been very good this season, making 21-23 field goals.  We know he’s great inside of 50 yards, but he hasn’t attempted or made a field goal outside of 50 yards all season.  This game is played indoors, which is better conditions for kickers, so he might get a shot to show us where his leg really is.

Jacoby Jones is a Pro Bowl Kick/Punt Returner and one of the league’s best.  He is not only a home run threat, but he is sure-handed as well.


Prediction: Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers are playing great football.  The move to him as QB has paid huge dividends as they are in the big game, but I think the Ravens are going to force him to win the game from the pocket.  This is the game in which Kaepernick makes a mistake or two that will give the Ravens a short field, allowing Joe Flacco to strike.  I simply trust Flacco more in big game situation and I think he leads the Ravens to the victory.  Ravens 24 49ers 23


Brandon Pemberton of Sports Trap Radio, for War Room Sports