Much of the offense we’ve seen has been based around Robert Griffin‘s strengths, with quick passing, read option plays and QB runs, that isn’t Cousins game and it shouldn’t be anywhere near the focus of the game plan. Now maybe you use it a little to keep the defense honest, but the Redskins need to tailor the playcalling to Cousins strengths. More traditional play action passing, roll outs, working under center should be the staples of this game plan. The Redskins will obviously use a lot of 3 step drops, but they should look to use some more five step drops with Cousins as well. Cousins is still a young quarterback learning, but he goes through his reads better and can read defenses pretty well, that the Redskins should allow him to scan the field more. They should cut down on the two man routes they run and try to give him more options.
The last three and a half games teams have basically done everything to stop Alfred Morris and dared RGIII to beat them. Griffin wasn’t able to be a big enough threat to force the defense to back off, but with Cousins it could be a bigger story. Since Cousins isn’t a threat to really run, defenses won’t be as likely to bring an extra guy in the box. That alone should allow Morris a bit more freedom, but if Cousins can throw the ball well early, the Falcons will have to adjust their defensive gameplan. Early on the Falcons will probably be biting on the run, so play action passing could be pretty effective early on. Once the pass is established, and the run game has more freedom, the Redskins should get back to a run first offense.
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean bench the veterans, but start to give some of the younger guys a chance by mixing them in there more. Last week Adam Gettis got 13 snaps, I’d look to try to do the same with him this week and perhaps add a few more. Tom Compton the other back-up offensive lineman should be given 10-15 snaps as well. Others deserving a look: WR Nick Williams, RB Jawan Jamison, WR Lance Lewis, and S Bacarri Rambo. If they activate Brandon Jenkins (probably unlikely), I’d look to give him some time as well. This would also be a good game to give David Amerson starting snaps. Move Josh Wilson to the nickel corner role and see if Amerson can hack it as a starter. The last three weeks Amerson hasn’t gotten to play as much since the teams the Redskins faced don’t go three wide alot. This week the Redskins should look to give him more snaps. Also they should look to get him some work versus Roddy White and Harry Douglas. If Amerson is going to take over as the Redskins top corner next year and a starter, he’s got to show that he can match-up versus better receivers and this would be a good test for him.
It’s sad this has to be a key, but all year this has been the issue. From blocked kicks, to big returns the Redskins special teams have made at least one big error in every game this season. In many games they’ve made multiple errors and it really cost them. Last week versus the Chiefs was perhaps their worst game as they gave up two returns for a TD and multiple other big returns. The Redskins coverage unit has been incredibly weak and they need to execute when their game plan is to kick it out of bounds on punts. For kick-offs they need to kick it to up guys or squib it more often, because you just can’t rely on this unit to get their job done.
Try as you might this defense isn’t built to actually stop opposing offenses, instead they need to worry more about holding the Falcons to field goals and limiting their points allowed that way. Maybe the Redskins can get lucky and force a turnover or two, but otherwise it is likely that Matt Ryan moves the ball with relative ease. When Atlanta gets into field goal range though the Redskins need to really tighten up and prevent them from getting 7. This was something the Redskins were better at doing last season when they would more frequently stop teams when they got into FG range. Last year it meant that instead of giving up 35 or 28 points a game they would give up 24 or 20 points a game, and it allowed them to get a couple key wins. That is really the best you can hope for from this defense as its constructed.