Fred Smoot: Don’t let Kirk Cousins off the hook

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'Just because we haven’t had good [quarterbacking] doesn’t mean good enough is okay,” Smoot said.

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Kirk Cousins after Washington’s Week 1 loss. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Many D.C. media members this week — including me — would tell you that it’s way too early in the season for big-picture, existential questions about Kirk Cousins — about his past and future salaries, and his ceiling, and his place in the NFL quarterbacking hierarchy. But at least some Redskins fans do not appreciate that milquetoast stance and would rather hear a harsher assessment of how Cousins played Sunday, and of his long-term potential.

For them, I present the words of one Fred Smoot, the former Redskins cornerback who appeared on ESPN 980 on Monday afternoon and was apparently not in the mood for tender and nuanced patience.

“We cannot let Kirk off the hook with this,” Smoot said. “It starts with him, and he starts slow every year. People don’t understand: Sometimes you’ve got to look at the package for what it is. We’re talking about a quarterback that demands $20 million-plus a year, that hasn’t won a playoff game, bad in the red zone, throws for four or five thousand yards but can’t complete and end drives. He’s also [29] years old.”

These are, indeed, the talking points of the Cousins skeptics (I can’t believe we’re doing this again), but Smoot didn’t stop there. Because he was asked specifically about the issue of every Cousins throw being a referendum on his long-term prospects in Washington, and he didn’t have much sympathy.

“The thing about it, you don’t want to guilt trip that girl into dating you; you want her to date you because she loves you, because she wants to be with you,” Smoot said. “And this girl has made it clear: She don’t really like us that much. Kirk is the girl. At the end of the day, Kirk don’t really like us as much as he says he does. Because either one [of two things] is gonna happen: Either he’s gonna make us pay him all this money and bankrupt the team to the [point] that we can’t get nobody to help him win and we’re gonna be mediocre for the next five years, [or he’ll leave].  

“People have to understand: He’s already [29] years old,” Smoot went on, mistakenly noting Cousins’s age as 30. “If I give you a six-year contract, you’re gonna be [35] by the time it’s over. Who’s to say where the ceiling is, though? Who’s to say? And this is what the fans really get in an uproar about: ‘He’s the best since Sonny Jurgensen.’ Just because we haven’t had good doesn’t mean good enough is okay! … 

“You wonder why we ain’t got no identity on offense? Because he doesn’t have an identity,” Smoot said. “What, he’s a late-quarter stat hound? He’s a completion guy that can’t throw outside the numbers? He’s a guy that cannot get in the end zone? Look at the numbers in the red zone last year! That’s decision-making. When the field gets small, it’s all about pulling the trigger. And right now, if I compare his weapons to the weapons of Aaron Rodgers or the weapons of [Derek] Carr, he has the better weapons. He’s had the better weapons the last three years. And we’ve [won] no playoff games. And everybody gives him the benefit of the doubt, because we ain’t had no quarterback since Sonny Jurgensen.”  

That’s not my position. But that’s certainly the position some fans have adopted.

If you’d like a more game-specific critique of Cousins — just for one week against the Eagles, not for the next six years — Chris Cooley also had a rather grim report. On his ESPN 980 program Tuesday morning, Cooley gave Cousins a “D” grade for his first game of the season.

“Based on the way he played in the back half of that game, combined with his lack of accuracy throughout — and although he made some plays with his feet — he was a D,” Cooley said. “Ultimately, he was a D in that game, and he was below ‘Just a Guy.’ He was not a good quarterback in that game. That was exactly what you got from Kirk Cousins.”

Nowhere to go but up! Well, almost nowhere, anyhow.

Meanwhile, Smoot also channeled the most disgruntled of fans in discussing Coach Jay Gruden, whom he said he loves.

Like my grandma always told me — I’m from Mississippi — if you take a fish out of water, it starts to stink from the head down,” Smoot said. “And that’s what you’ve got to start at. We’ve started slow the last three years out of the gate. We’ve lost the opening game. And I think it has a lot to do with the training camp, the glorified pillow fight, and I think it has a lot to do with the way we practice, and the way we come out of the gate. . . .

“Greg Manusky, the defense has his identity: Nasty, get after it, if we make mistakes we’re gonna make them 100 miles per hour,” Smoot said. “And the offense has Coach Gruden’s personality: kind of nonchalant.”

More Redskins:

The Kirk Cousins contract fatigue is real

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