What I liked- There was a lot to like in Kirk Cousins game on Sat. night, but a couple of things really stood out to me.
-Command of the offense: it was very clear that Cousins had a complete understanding of the offense, regardless of the situation the team was in. He got everyone up to the line quickly and didn’t waste time. It was a very efficient and effective offense with Cousins under center. On one play he recognized Dezmon Briscoe was lined up on the wrong side and calmly motioned him over as the play clock was ticking. He then preceeded to complete the pass to him. It was the type of poise and command you hope to see in a 3rd or 4th year vet, but Cousins was displaying it as a 4th round rookie.
-Courage under fire: Though it might not have been Julius Peppers rushing Cousins, he was still under pressure quite a bit in that 2nd half (and remember he had the 2nd tier offensive line blocking for him). If you look at most of Cousin’s incomplete or off target throws he was either being hit or had a defender in his face. Despite steady pressure, Cousins never really panicked, and while there were a few errant throws, Cousins had about as good of a game as you could ask for.The fact that he was able to stand tall in the pocket, and show a quick release was very impressive.
-Scrambling: Now no one is ever going to mistake Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin, but Cousins did a nice job of taking what the defense gave him on a couple rollout scrambles. He showed good foot speed and the fact that he could pick up a few yards, or buy some extra time in the pocket. Unlike Rex Grossman he’s a bit of a running threat, and unlike John Beck, he’s decisive enough that it matters. Though they are just a small part of his game, i was nice to see that Cousins had that ability.
-Accuracy and Progressions: I know some people may point to the tip balls or the couple off target throws, but overall Cousins was very accurate. What was most impressive was he was accurate on a wide variety of types of routes. Whether it was a short timing route, or a deeper touch pass Cousins displayed nice accuracy, and either hit his receivers in stride or in the strike zone (i.e. not behind them, too high or too low). As mentioned before most of the plays where the accuracy was a bit off was due to pressure. Cousins also had a number of plays where he quickly went through his progressions and targeted the open receiver. He showed a good diagnosis of the defense, and an ability to take what they were offering.
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What I didn’t like: Nothing…now of course there were some balls that could have been more accurate and a couple of plays where he maybe could have gone for a deeper option, but he produced. The Redskins moved the ball on every drive, and picked up at least one first down (or TD) every time Cousins was under center. The only drive that truly failed was when 5th string running back Antwon Bailey fumbled the ball. Sure the first drive ended in a 54 yard FG attempt that is by no means a gimmie, but it was at least putting his team in a position to score points.
Overall: Now obviously I was very high on Cousins performance and not so much on Griffin’s, which must mean I believe Cousins to be the better quarterback and the starting option for the Redskins. That of course is absolutely incorrect. What Cousins did was no doubt impressive, and showed a lot of potential, but in the end it was a preseason game vs 2nd and 3rd stringers. Though Cousins himself was surrounded by a similar dearth of talent (particularly along the offensive line), he benefited more from the Bears failings, than his players let him down. Yes the pressure was still there in the 2nd half (and Cousins did a great job with it), but the Bears coverage was more lax, which allowed a few more open receivers than what Griffin saw in the first half. Griffin is the starter, Cousins just may be more NFL ready than people would expect of a rookie (esp. a 4th rounder).