WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – If there’s anyone who understands the potential implications of a quarterback controversy, it’s former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner.
While he may not have been directly involved in a controversy in 1999 – when then-Rams starting quarterback Trent Green went down with a season-ending leg injury in the preseason – it proved to be the opportunity of a lifetime for Warner.
That injury gave him the starting job he’d keep for the next five seasons as he began to build the foundation for a borderline Hall of Fame career in St. Louis.
Regardless of whether injury truly played a factor in Robert Griffin III being benched in Washington – or whether he was just a chess piece being asked to take a seat in an elaborate game (to the victor go the $7 million) – Kirk Cousins performed well enough against Atlanta to keep Griffin on the bench for the remainder of 2013.
So what does Warner make of the QB dilemma currently unfolding in Washington?
“If this guy’s your franchise quarterback, I think the last thing you want to do is pull him off the football field with his guys and kind of undermine his ability to be able to lead every day in practice, and every Sunday on the field,” Warner told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny on Thursday.
That said, Warner also had high praise for Kirk Cousins, who divulged he calls a friend.
“I’m gonna tell you right away that what I saw from RGIII last year when he was a rookie was extremely impressive,” Warner said. “And I think that, in any situation that, especially coming off the injury and trying to bounce back as quickly as he did, some of the other issues with that football team, I think you have to go back to when this guy was healthy and look at his play, and you have to hang on to that.”
Warner isn’t certain what to blame Griffin’s sophomore slump, noting: his offseason rehab resulting in a lack of practice time, the possibility of defensive struggles forcing him to do too much, while playing from behind, and the possibility that Griffin was never 100 percent healthy this year.
“I just think this thing spiraled out of control in a crazy fashion,” Warner said.
“But for me, I continue to go ‘Hey, when this guy was healthy, this is what I got,’” he went on. “I’ve got to get that guy healthy again because what we saw last year from him was very, very unique, and it was different, and he really carried this team on his back, so that’s the guy I want. I want that game-changing, difference-making guy that I saw last year that I believe he can be again when he gets his confidence back, when he gets his health back.”
“I don’t really understand that scenario, I don’t understand why it played out, obviously it did, but he is definitely my guy moving forward,” Warner stated.
Although Warner clearly prefers RGIII, he isn’t writing Cousins off as a starter either.
“I believe at some point he’s going to be like a Matt Hasselbeck type guy that, you know, was underneath another starter, but has shown enough and proven that he deserves to be a starter in this league,” Warner said. “And will get an opportunity to go somewhere else and do that.”
Hasselbeck was a sixth-round pick and backed up Brett Favre in Green Bay his first two seasons, then was later traded to Seattle (following head coach Mike Holmgren) where he’d start for the next start for the next decade.
It’s scary how many connections can be made between that scenario and what’s currently happening in Washington.