ASHBURN -- For all the talk, Week 3's Josh Norman vs. Odell Beckham matchup was the opening act the Washington Redskins' 2016 schedule came out many moons ago. The headliner of all headliner games was set for Week 4. Not so much the Browns against Redskins, but Robert Griffin III's return to FedEx Field with the man who took his job, Kirk Cousins, starting for the home team. The hype, palpable. Many fans still wear Griffin's No. 10 jersey on game day. Regardless of the unsatisfying end to the quarterback's four-year run, RG3's start was legendary and unforgettable.
Then Griffin suffered a season-ending injury Week 1. Then the fun washed away, thus making the rain pounding Redskins Park Wednesday both annoying and symbolic. For the most part, Griffin wasn't part of the day's discussion. Maybe that's because he last took a regular season snap for Washington in 2014. Maybe that's because the injury happened a few weeks back. Maybe that's because the world moved on.
Or not. As Cousins held his weekly press conference, the thought of his take on the matchup that won't happen crossed my mind. Same with another reporter who beat me to the punch with a two-part question: What did Cousins think of specific game against Griffin when the schedule came out and what are his thoughts now that the RG3 part of it is moot.
What he said: "Just another opportunity to try to get a win. I really focus on the defense. I have a little bit of a narrow focus. Like, I don't worry about special teams. Like I said, I didn't know we had a fake punt on or had carried a fake punt (in the playbook) last game. I have a little bit of narrow of focus of let's focus on their defense. They've give me enough to worry about. All the other things that go on, it just doesn't do me much good or benefit me much to spend energy or time thinking about it."
What we heard: Before reading between the lines, let's note that Cousins, per usual, was in business mode during his press conference. He didn't get carried away with the offense's performance in Sunday's win and discussed the current red-zone woes. He pushed back on the idea of the matchup against an 0-3 Browns squad as any kind of trap game ("We're 1-2. What are we feeling comfortable about?"). Cousins helped provide context for storylines like the new plan at center, but he didn't come close to starting a debate for one of those debate shows.
And yet...Read that answer again. Note that Griffin is never mentioned by name or really acknowledged. I wouldn't take that Cousins being dismissive, but I do recall the two entered the league together in 2012 and spent the next four seasons together. He didn't even say something like, "It's a shame Robert got hurt. It would have been fun seeing him Sunday. Hopefully he's back healthy next season." Generic, but something. Instead he focused on not knowing about last week's fake punt and stuff.
The final line -- "All the other things that go on, it just doesn't do me much good or benefit me much to spend energy or time thinking about it" -- is the key. Cousins talks like a deft politician. He probably recognizes that in some precincts, anything said about RG3 will lower his poll numbers. Instead, he punted, no fake. That's probably smart, but like the minimal buzz for this game as anything beyond what's up next, it just wasn't fun.