The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Cooley: Cousins a better pocket passer than RGIII

(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Chris Cooley did his Tuesday Redskins film review on ESPN 980 this week as Redskins Park continued to burn. Of course, this was about 16 hours before reports began circulating that Kirk Cousins would indeed start next weekend against the Falcons.

Still, it was business as usual for Cooley, who judged each player on the offense not based on past history or salary or potential, but just based on performance against the Chiefs.

Among his observations about the team’s quarterbacks:

* “[Robert Griffin III] only reads one side of the field, and the Kansas City Chiefs were very aware of that. When he takes the snap, his head goes to whatever side of the field he wants to throw to, and so do the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs. He looks right; you’ve got three guys just running right to pick up routes. They aborted the other side of the field in their zones.”

* “His technique right now, as far as dropping and throwing the ball, is dreadful. He’s throwing high over and over and over again. He’s throwing behind guys, he’s missing guys, his accuracy is as low as I’ve seen from a guy who should be a very good quarterback. He is never taking a regular drop from under center. He is only taking awkward pistol drops and shotgun drops. And I believe if you want to evolve him as far as technique goes, it wouldn’t hurt to have him take a five-step drop from under the center. He’s never doing that. We’re never doing that. If they aren’t going to do that ever, they need to work on his technique. It’s like a golfer who moves his feet the entire time he swings….He has such happy feet when he’s in the pocket; even if he’s untouched, free in the pocket, he’s jumping, he’s stepping, he’s got legs flipping everywhere as he throws the ball, and I have such a hard time believing that he can be accurate in that fashion. And he’s not. He’s proving me right, every week. He’s inaccurate.”

* “At this point, my belief is that he may not be getting better; he may be developing worse habits that would stay with him for a longer period of time. When Shanahan talked about keeping him healthy, I don’t hate the idea of him coming out to stay healthy. Because he goes from his first read to looking around the offensive line to see if he needs to run. He doesn’t have faith to sit in that pocket and go from one side of the field to the other. His eyes go from first read to am I getting sacked almost simultaneously. And he’s stepping up and making moves to run in the pocket when he goes off read number 1.”

* “I watched Kirk on four or five plays buy time in the pocket, and move from read one to read two to the other side of the field. Now, I’m not saying that he played outstanding, but it was proven that he could buy time. He had pressure in his pocket and he was able to sit in the pocket.”

* “The problem with Robert is if he’s able to make plays on the move, then that’s one thing. You want him to stay in the pocket, but once he’s out of the pocket, he has no vision downfield. He may be looking downfield, but he has lost coverage. His determination of where the coverage is is gone. And he’s not able to see very accurately down the field. There were four or five times when he was able to escape the pocket forward, had guys that he could have delivered a pass to, and didn’t see them. So I’m not sure if he’s just looking for his guys to block or what, but it’s not very good.”

* “Yeah, Kirk played against the backups. I thought he did some nice things though. He has the presence of a quarterback who sits in the pocket and throws.”

* “Overall Kirk is a better pocket passer right now. That’s apparent, very easily, that he is able to sit and execute the drop-back offense that we want to run at times better than Robert can. Ultimately RGIII gives you a more explosive element, a big-play style that I think is needed in the NFL [more] than Kirk does. But he’s not very good right now when it comes to getting from 1 to 2 to 3. He just isn’t. I think he fears that he’s going to be sacked, I think he fears everything around him in the pocket.”

* “The Chiefs zone-blitzed us four times while Robert was in the game. Four times they blitzed away from our line side, and they had a guy come free. In all four of those instances, one of our offensive linemen was standing with no one to block, away from that blitz. I’m not sure if that’s Will Montgomery, and I’m not sure if that’s Robert. But one of those guys has to be able to pick that up. One time they brought that blitz when Kirk Cousins was in, and the line side changed, and they picked that blitz up.”

* “They also ran double-stick five times in the game out of an empty formation; completed it once. I mean, these are EASY plays, that we can’t even get through our reads and complete. We can’t even get it to our premier guy. I’m pretty blown away by that.”

Eeventually, Steve Czaban asked if all of this meant that the Redskins had vastly overpaid for a player who remains a work-in-progress.

“You’re getting close,” Cooley said. “You’re getting close. You would have said the exact same thing about Cam Newton [last season], and he’s having a much better year. [But] he’s got to find a way to grow.”