A former NFL scout has taken a bold public stance on Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, a stance which one NFL film analyst has used to explain why the team and quarterback are actually a perfect fit.
Matt Williamson, formerly a scout for the Browns, points to — in a piece titled, “Redskins’ offense carried Cousins, not the other way around” — several “worrisome signs” the Redskins quarterback exhibited in 2015, which he says could ultimately lead GM Scot McCloughan to conclude, after 2016, “the most difficult piece of the puzzle still isn’t in the building.”
There is a clear plan in place on the offensive side of the ball as well, and it mimics the one Jay Gruden had success with in Cincinnati: Surround a limited quarterback with a big, powerful offensive line coached by Bill Callahan, a strong running game, and an abundance of receiving weapons.
“A win is a win in the NFL, but those six victories were against the Saints, Giants, Bears, Bills, Eagles, and Cowboys… not exactly great defenses,” Williamson goes on to write, ” And while the stats say differently, Cousins wasn’t that good during that span.”
Williamson makes a compelling case, one which centers around the larger point that, while Cousins may have ultimately had a successful season, his weapons on offense masked what should have been game-altering mistakes. Those mistakes, Williamson contends, would have otherwise derailed the offense in the final 10 weeks of the season, a span in which the Redskins went 7-3 en route to the playoffs.
Several complaints Williamson lobbed stand out:
*All of a sudden, has a weak-armed quarterback with a penchant for throwing the ball directly to the opponent changed his stripes? The answer is no, and by no means is Cousins gifted enough to have a high interception percentage as if he were Brett Favre (or even Jay Cutler for that matter).
*He also isn’t an accurate or effective deep passer.
*Cousins needs receivers who can consistently win. He needs receivers who can bail him out. Cousins needs open guys to throw to more than upper-tier passers do.
Andy Benoit of Peter King’s TheMMQB.com — upon hearing of Williamson’s take — painted a far less dire portrait of Cousins, one which imagines Washington and its QB as having formed the perfect marriage.
“I think if you had to take a camp in that discussion, if it’s either A or B, I’m taking B: The Redskins’ offense carried Kirk Cousins,” Benoit told Chris Russel on 106.7 The Fan on Monday.
“Now that’s not a slight at Cousins,” he clarified. “I know it’s always going to come across that way. See, you’re not allowed to call anyone a game manager anymore — it’s politically incorrect. It’s not a slight, though, because Cousins plays in what is easily one of the three or four best designed offenses in the NFL and, in my opinion, it might be the best all-around designed offense.”
This fits within the prism through which Benoit has previously viewed Washington’s offense under head coach Jay Gruden, whom Benoit lauded as a “top 10 NFL head coach” — in terms of game-planning ability — when the Redskins were still just 2-3 last season. He probably deserves some credit in retrospect for sticking by Gruden, who at the time was a very unpopular person in the District (the general reaction to those comments was laughter, perhaps even by this author).
“So, to be a game manager in that kind of offense, that’s a good thing,” Benoit continued. “If you’re not going to turn the ball over, that’s a good thing. The scheme will take care of him. They do a great job of play-calling. They have a diverse array of wide receivers that compliment each other extremely well, stylistically. I think Cousins fits the MO just right, and I know they like him a lot on that coaching staff. Coaches like quarterbacks that do what the system calls for them to do.
“I think Cousins is in a really good spot. I agree with Matt Williamson 100 percent — I think he’s a puzzle piece — but you’re going to still have to pay that puzzle piece after this season if it goes the way it did towards the end of last season. Cousins is getting paid $20 million this year to basically prove himself in a system that is perfect for his skill set.”