Speaking with Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post on ESPN 980, Cooley stated that Griffin disliked Kirk Cousins, the quarterback who eventually replaced him, let his offensive line take the blame for his sacks when it was really Griffin’s fault, and didn’t get the ball to his receivers often enough, triggering their animosity.
Cooley began by citing the cool relationship between Griffin and Cousins:
There’s a working relationship where guys show up and they work. I would drink a beer with Mike Shanahan today; I did not like him as a head coach. I like him as a dude. That said, I don’t think Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin are going to be drinking any beers together. One, Robert doesn’t drink, [and] Kirk rarely drinks. But there was never a friendship relationship. From the moment Kirk was drafted, I think Robert had animosity towards him.
Cooley continued, “Robert was never willing to be friends with Kirk Cousins. They never hung out together, they never spent time together, their families didn’t hang out together. … It was never a great relationship. I don’t think Robert ever wanted it to be a great relationship. And I think it became really contentious over the last two years, to where Rex Grossman, a guy who I’m close with, said ‘This is weird in here. This is a bad situation in here. These guys don’t like each other.'”
Turning to the offensive line’s resentment, Cooley stated:
The offensive line did not like Robert Griffin. lot of the receivers did not like Robert Griffin. The offensive line had a problem with Robert, because they were considered for a year-and-a-half or two years a terrible offensive line that couldn’t protect a quarterback. A lot of that isn’t true. A lot of that was Robert. A lot of the sacks were put on Robert. Want to believe it or not, they were, okay? Football-wise, they were: it was Robert. Robert never took [responsibility] for that. Robert continued to let his offensive line eat the blame. They don’t like it. They hate that, man. That kills them. Perception is the only thing an offensive line has, because 99 percent of people watching football have no idea what an offensive line’s doing.
Cooley addressed the receivers’ hostility: “Receivers didn’t like playing with Robert, because they didn’t get the ball. It was never consistent, other than a couple in 2012; they struggled with that. So they didn’t like Robert.”
Cooley summed up:
Robert did have friends, of course he had friends, but there were a lot of guys on this team that said it doesn’t benefit me — as a player, as an individual — and we don’t know if it benefits the team with him under center at this point. That was what really happened in that locker room, in talking to a lot of those guys. That’s not me saying I think they would have perceived it this way. It’s me talking to a lot of players in this locker room, as friends, and understanding why the dislike or why the problem.
As ProFootballTalk.com pointed out, in 2014 Griffin was sacked 33 times while throwing only 214 passes. The last time a quarterback had been sacked so frequently by percentage occurred when Hugh Millen played with the 1992 Patriots.
Comparatively, Colt McCoy was sacked 17 times while throwing 128 passes and Cousins was sacked eight times while throwing 208 balls. Grifin was sacked at least 30 times in three of his seasons with the Redskins; Peyton Manning was never sacked 30 times in one season during his career.