Kirk Cousins stepped in admirably for Robert Griffin III against the Atlanta Falcons. He completed 5-of-9 pass attempts for 111 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. His performance was just what the Washington Redskins needed.
However, if Griffin III is forced to miss extended time due to his possible concussion, can Cousins be trusted to lead the offense?
Cousins is not a run-of-the-mill rookie backup. He played four years in a pro-style offense at Michigan State and is a proven leader that can excel at the NFL level. That's right, he does not have to just be a "game manager" a la Rex Grossman. Cousins can lead the Redskins offense without sacrificing the vertical passing game or any intermediate routes.
In four seasons at MSU, Cousins threw for 9131 yards, 66 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He was particularly skilled in utilizing his play makers in Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham.
Cousins is not going to make silly mistakes that put Washington in position to lose close ball games. Yes, he threw two interceptions against the Falcons, but he came into the game cold and had never seen an NFL field in the regular season before.
Still, he looked comfortable in the pocket and ensured Washington remained in the game down to the final minutes. Also, remember that fans and pundits alike were shocked when the Redskins drafted Cousins this season. He is a player that was believed could blossom into an eventual NFL starter if given the right opportunity.
He is not the athlete of RGIII, few are, but the offense will not have to adjust greatly in order to accommodate Cousins.
Alfred Morris will still demand 18-20 carries a game and hover around 100 yards. Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss will remain key cogs in the passing game, as evidenced by the 77-yard TD connection by Cousins and Moss in the fourth quarter against Atlanta.
What will change is the way Griffin III is able to extend plays with his feet and stretch the pocket. Cousins will never be accused of being swift or particularly mobile. In fact, he had negative 125 yards rushing in college. This just means that Washingotn's offensive line will always be aware of where the QB is, and that's directly behind them.
As long as Cousins does not develop a new tendency to sit back all day and wait to get sacked, the offensive machine in Washington should continue running just fine. Cousins is not RGIII and no one should expect him to be, but he is more than capable of running the Redskins offense.
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