The first of Kirk Cousins‘s expected three games as starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins is in the books. He gave an encouraging performance despite the team eventually falling to the Falcons, 27-26. The sudden success and efficiency on offense led many to believe that Mike and Kyle Shanahan ran a completely different offense to the one they’ve been running with Robert Griffin III. There has been a widespread belief for a while now that Washington has one offense for Griffin and a separate one for Cousins. While it’s true that Griffin adds the element of the read-option, something we’re unlikely to see from Cousins; that is the only real difference between the two. I saw concepts run by Cousins on Sunday that Griffin has been running since last season.
One of Washington’s favorite play-action passing concepts involves a go route and a post route. Normally, the go route will draw the attention of the safeties and open up space for the post route underneath. It’s been a staple in the Redskins’ offense from the moment Mike Shanahan arrived in D.C. On Sunday, Cousins found Aldrick Robinson open deep on this concept.
Cousins lines up under center. He’ll fake the handoff and sit back in the pocket and make his reads.
His first read is to Pierre Garcon on the post route. But the Falcons play two deep safeties, one of which is aggressively attacking the post route by Garcon. Cousins wisely chooses to look elsewhere. He spots the other deep safety still in a backpedal as Robinson is closing the gap between them. Cousins knows that Robinson is too quick and pulls the trigger.
Cousins manages to find Robinson and picks up a big gain.
Griffin had great success with this concept last season, but has struggled to connect on it this year.
Against the Eagles, Washington lines up in their Diamond Pistol formation. While the formation is slightly different from what we saw above, the concept is still the same.
The Eagles do a good job taking away the first read on the post to Garcon. The single-deep safety has opened his hips and is already getting in position to cover the go route. Eventually, Griffin was forced to scramble and failed to pick up anything on the play.
One of the Redskins’ more basic concepts is double-stick. This involves two receivers on the same side of the field both running stick routes. Griffin had this play for an easy completion all of his rookie year, but hasn’t been accurate or on time with the ball enough for it to be effective this season.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, Washington failed to connect on a number of double-stick plays. Here they had Logan Paulsen split out from his usual tight end position in the slot. Meanwhile Fred Davis lines up as an inline tight end. They both run stick routes.
Griffin fails to see the Chiefs linebacker ready to undercut Davis’s route. He elects to throw the ball without even glancing at Paulsen.
The linebacker undercuts the route and very nearly intercepts the pass. Griffin was lucky he threw too wide of Davis, or it probably would have been intercepted.
While they failed with it the week before, Washington went back to the double-stick concept against the Falcons with Kirk Cousins as the quarterback.
This time, Washington uses Santana Moss in the slot to run this concept alongside Paulsen.
As both Moss and Paulsen break to the sideline, Cousins reads the defender circled above. That defender is in position to jump any pass to Paulsen, but that leaves Moss open. Cousins makes a quick decision and throws to Moss.
Moss is wide open for an easy completion.
The last concept I’ll look at is somewhat of a go-to concept in goal-line situations. It was the concept used to score the last-minute touchdown to Moss.
Moss lines up in the slot and runs a quick out route. Cousins rolls out to his left as the pocket moves with him.
The Redskins run a pick route that creates traffic for the corner covering Moss. Moss ducks underneath the pick and finds himself in lots of space.
Cousins makes a nice throw on the run to his left, but has an easy target for a touchdown.
This play should look somewhat familiar. Griffin ran it several times last season, going as far back as the preseason against the Colts. The Bengals fell victim to this concept in Week 3 of last season.
This time it’s Griffin who lines up under center. He rolls out to his right as Moss runs a quick out from the slot.
Washington opted against using a pick route on this particular occasion, but Moss was able to create separation from the defender without it.
Griffin pulls the trigger on an easy touchdown pass.
Overall, I saw Cousins run and operate the same offense as Griffin. Outside of the read-option, Washington ran the same concepts they’ve been running since both quarterbacks were drafted. We saw the exact same zone runs and play-action concepts with Cousins that we’ve seen from Griffin. We’ve seen the same basic offensive staples, like double-stick, run by both quarterbacks. And we’ve even seen both Griffin and Cousins run similar red-zone concepts. It may look different with Cousins under center as opposed to Griffin in the pistol, but in reality the end result is the same.
● The Redskins resume practice Wednesday at 11:50 a.m. Mike Shanahan and Cousins are expected to speak with reporters afterward.
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