What happens if Kirk Cousins is a better QB than Robert Griffin III?

Robert Griffin III and Tom Brady shake hands after Thursday's preseason game. (USATSI)
Robert Griffin III and Tom Brady shake hands after Thursday's preseason game. (USATSI)

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Robert Griffin III has a lot to prove this season. After winning offensive rookie of year honors in 2012, the former first-round pick struggled in 2013. The culprits: a bum knee and a dysfunctional head coach. The knee is healed and Mike Shanahan is gone, which means that RG3 is out of excuses.

Last week, the Redskins and Patriots practiced together before facing off in Thursday's preseason game. Tom Brady didn't play in the game but he didn't need to; he's a future Hall of Famer -- you know what you're getting. Griffin, meanwhile, is a different story.

It might explain all the post-joint-practice media reports comparing Brady to RG3. The general sense of those reports: "Brady is masterful, Griffin is raw." That's like comparing a 13-month-old just learning to walk to Usain Bolt. Yes, they're both bipeds, but one is slightly more experienced than the other.

That's not to excuse RG3's performance last season, or to suggest that he doesn't deserve scrutiny.  Like it or not, he's the face of the franchise and first-year coach Jay Gruden is tasked with getting the most out of him.

But what happens if RG3's best isn't better than backup Kirk Cousins?

We've heard this before, but we're bringing it up again because of what ESPN.com's Mike Reiss wrote in his Sunday notes column. Forget comparing Griffin to Brady, this is about Griffin and Cousins.

"One of my biggest takeaways from Patriots-Redskins joint practices was surprise that Robert Griffin III didn’t look like the best quarterback on his own team," Reiss wrote. "In fact, I thought Kirk Cousins was better than him, from the perspective of running the offense, fine-tuned mechanics and how decisively the ball came out of his hand. I wondered if I was alone, and then heard the same sentiment echoed by some others in the Patriots organization."

This doesn't mean that RG3 isn't the team's long-term answer at quarterback, or that he doesn't deserve the job in the short term. Still, it's troubling to think that the second-overall pick isn't farther along, especially when the competition is a fourth-rounder from that same draft.

Of course, Brady was a sixth-round pick but that's not the point here. The Redskins are in transition, and if it turns out that Cousins is better than RG3 then, yeah, he should play. But that reality means that the team gave up a 2012 second-rounder, and first-rounders in 2013 and 2014 for a glorified backup. And that goes a long way in explaining why the Redskins are perpetually mediocre.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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