WASHINGTON — NBC color commentator Chris Collinsworth waited until the game was already out of reach for the Redskins before heaping praise on quarterback Kirk Cousins. Despite the interceptions (off of deflections) and fumbles, Collinsworth insisted that Cousins’ performance was “brilliant.”
The postgame crew on the NBC/NFL Network broadcast was not so generous, as former players Steve Smith, Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin unloaded on the Redskins quarterback.
It started when Rich Eisen attempted to point out that Jamison Crowder bears some responsibility for the first interception in the red zone and the subsequent punt return fumble that gave the Cowboys a short field:
Faulk: “I agree with everything you are saying. But as a quarterback, when those things are happening, you go to your wide receivers. You don’t shake them, you pat them and let know that you have confidence and let them know that I’m coming back to you.”
Faulk: “I was standing on the sideline and I was waiting for that to happen. I never saw him go by his wide receivers and give them a vote of confidence of what we are going to do.”
As Faulk finished his sentence, the camera lingered on his smirk. It was the look of a red-hot take bubbling to the surface. It just wasn’t from Faulk.
Smith: “Based off what he’s saying, and you [teams] want that leadership, I’m going to say right now: that probably cost him between $10-20 million off that contract, because he showed that he is not a true leader that demands that kind of money.”
Eisen: “Ha ha…Wow.”
Wow, indeed. Keep in mind that Smith is not saying that a poor performance cost Cousins money. He isn’t saying that a bad looking road loss that essentially killed the Redskins’ playoff hopes cost him money on his contract. He’s saying that not making a symbolic gesture to his receivers will cost him eight figures off his next contract.
Grant Paulsen from 106.7 The Fan summed it up succinctly:
And nobody on the panel except for Eisen verbalized that this notion might be outlandish. Instead, they just poured it on.
Faulk: “You gotta win these games right here.”
Irvin: “Here’s what’s interesting: we talked about it and he talked about it. He said, “Haven’t you guys seen enough over the last few years in this building in D.C. But these kinds of games–”
Faulk: “He was right! He was right!–”
Smith: “These are the kind of games that they see.”
Faulk: No, he was right; we have seen enough! You are right. We have seen enough.”
Eisen: “I don’t know. I think you guys are being a little unfair.”
You have to appreciate Eisen’s masterful grasp on the understated comment. Not to be outdone, Smith doubled-down on a conspiracy theory that maybe Crowder was still mad at Cousins for something last week and sabotaged the game. Maybe.
Smith: “Last week, he threw Crowder into a headache. So Crowder had…he was remembering, ‘Hey, you set me up last time, so now, I’m not gonna…I think you might be doing that again. So that’s what I was telling you was going on. It costs you.”
Smith was grasping at words and stringing together a sequence of thoughts that very nearly arrived at an accusation that Crowder dropped passes and didn’t play hard enough because Cousins put him in a situation to get hurt last week.
Just a hunch, but you can be certain that neither Cousins nor Crowder actually believes that. If that is truly what Smith believes receivers do to quarterbacks, it makes you wonder how he played a Hall of Fame career.
Thursday was not Cousins’ best game, but you can’t both throw and catch the ball. Cousins made some mistakes, but the biggest ones weren’t his fault.
The irony is that this sort of frothy conversation mimics the months of debate that will take place on sports radio in Washington, D.C. While it is a conversation that has gone on for three years now, it will reach a fever pitch, with the team all by eliminated from the playoffs.
Where do you stand on the topic? And how much is a symbolic conversation on the sidelines worth to you?