Benoit: Cousins Thrives in Redskins Scheme Where RGIII Couldn’t

WASHINGTON — SI’s Andy Benoit is making local headlines left and right these days.

On Thursday, he appeared on Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan to talk all things Redskins, and he addressed several lingering topics that have made waves over the past week, from Kirk Cousins to the defense.

First, he addressed his own story about Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who he called the NFL’s best head coaching candidate. Benoit says it’s tough to put a timeline on when McVay, still just 30 years old, will get a head coaching opportunity, but he doesn’t think it’ll be long.

“His communication skills are off the charts, and I think his football knowledge — I won’t say it’s second to none, but there are not very many ahead of him,” Benoit said of McVay, who the writer called “humble and curious.”

He added that McVay has “great, great command of everything that happens on a football field,” and he credits the young coordinator with helping to run one of the best offensive schemes in the NFL.

“In terms of regulating the defense and then exploiting the defense after regulating it, I think Washington might be the very best in the league,” he said Thursday.

Benoit: Redskins Might Have NFL’s Best ‘All-Around Designed Offense’

Benoit was then asked about Washington’s struggles running the football, a topic that has been relevant since Week 3 of 2015. He said between the talents of offensive line coach Bill Callahan and the overall strength of the offense, the rushing attack didn’t reach its potential last season.

“I think frankly they probably should be better than they were on the ground,” was Benoit’s take on that, though he added play-action passes should be factored into the success of the run game.

On a related note, he thinks Cousins does a great job of executing in the Redskins’ scheme, which he says is not an elaborate scheme but an effective one. Benoit noted the previous Redskins quarterback, Robert Griffin III, worked in the same system with Jay Gruden and McVay, but he could not make that scheme work.

“For the passing attack, I think you give him all the praise in the world, because at the end of the day, every quarterback’s job is to execute the plays to their greatest effectiveness,” he says of Cousins. “There was a guy there before him that they asked to do the same thing, and he didn’t come remotely close to getting it done and the offense didn’t work the right way. We’ve seen what can happen when it’s not done properly. I think Cousins plays, within the confines of their scheme, I think he plays almost as efficiently as almost any QB in the league.”

On the other side of the ball, Benoit isn’t entirely sure what to make of defensive coordinator Joe Barry. He says he generally likes the job Barry has done, noting that “when he does blitz, which is probably less than any defensive play-caller in the league, the blitzes have been effective.”

But he also thinks the defense needs to improve this season, especially with the addition of cornerback Josh Norman, and if it doesn’t, something is wrong.

Finally, Benoit was asked to chime in on recent comments made by former Redskins GM Charley Casserly, who told The Sports Junkies that he considers Cousins to be the worst starting quarterback in the NFC East.

The SI writer thinks the former general manager is way off in his evaluation of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford. Casserly heaped praise upon Bradford, but Benoit doesn’t think the former No. 1 overall pick will even be the team’s starting quarterback by the end of the season. Instead, he thinks Carson Wentz, the No. 2 pick of the 2016 draft, will supplant Bradford at some point in the season.

He ranks the four starting quarterbacks in the division in the following order: Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Cousins, Wentz. For what it’s worth, he had an internal debate over Romo vs. Cousins for the No. 2 slot.

The entire call, in which Benoit offers his take on just about every aspect of the Redskins, is available below.

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