Sure enough, Cooley was complimentary of Cousins, who completed 21 of 31 passes for 196 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Sunday’s 17-10 loss to Miami.
“I thought Kirk Cousins did a great job taking what was given to him throughout this game,” Cooley said. “He made a lot of big plays, he made a lot of throws over the middle of the field, he had a couple that he’d like to get back.”
Cooley said Cousins’s decision-making in the quick pass game was good, he made the correct checks at the line of scrimmage and he slid in the pocket to avoid pressure. Cooley raved about Cousins’s 18-yard throw to Pierre Garcon on a 3rd and 5 play on the Redskins’s second drive. Cousins had Andre Roberts open on a five-yard choice route, but he made the right read to make the big play to Garcon on a corner route.
“This is the type of quarterback play that will win football games for you this season,” Cooley said. “This is the type of decision-making that a guy with great vision and great understanding of defense can make. This is something that you would not have seen last year out of Robert [Griffin III] and it would’ve been fine. You would’ve seen a guy throw the 5-yard [pass]. That’s fine, but this is the bigger play, you take the bigger play. Kirk took what the defense gave him most of the day.”
Cooley had a few criticisms of Cousins, too, including his first interception.
“It’s third and 18, the quarterback goes to the line of scrimmage, he’s got to have in his mind, ‘I’m probably not going to have a play to make here’,” said Cooley, who thought Cousins had room to step up in the pocket to his left and find Garcon for a first down.
Instead, Cousins felt pressure, rolled to his right and attempted an off-schedule throw to Jordan Reed in the flat that was intercepted by Miami’s Brent Grimes. Reed started up field as soon as Cousins released the ball.
“Obviously there’s a misunderstanding, but if I’m in Reed’s position and I see the quarterback flushing right and I’m out in the check-down flat, I’m going to roll it up the sideline as well,” Cooley said. “Third and 18, scramble drill, I’m going to go up the sideline to see if I can go make a play. Kirk throws it, it should’ve been a pick-six. It should’ve never been thrown, it was a bad decision. He panicked.”
As for the incompletion that Cousins threw on fourth and seven on the Redskins’ final play of the game, Cooley put the blame on Reed. According to Cooley, who diagrammed the play on Monday, Reed was running a seam route and should’ve broken in front of the safety toward the post. Instead, he ran into the safety and broke outside.
Cooley graded Cousins out at a B-plus, but docked him half a letter grade for his “egregious interception,” resulting in a B. As noted by 106.7 The Fan’s Chris Lingebach, that’s considerably better than the letter grades a trio of former quarterbacks gave Cousins on CBS Sports Network’s “NFL Monday QB.”
“I’m giving this guy a D,” Steve Beurlein said. “He’s trying to play RGIII back into a job if you ask me. I think the guy really came out yesterday and really laid an egg. I don’t think he did a good job, I don’t think he earned any confidence from Jon Gruden (sic). I think he was off all day long. Ten points, I just think you can’t give him any higher than a D.”
Trent Green and Rich Gannon both gave Cousins a C-minus.