Washington Redskins: How Will Offense Change If Robert Griffin III Doesn't Play?

Korey Beckett@@KoreyBeckettBRContributor IIIDecember 11, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 29:  Quarterback  Kirk Cousins #12 of the Washington Redskins passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField on August 29, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Earlier on Tuesday, Pierre Garcon may have let some information slip when he said, “We have a little bit tougher of a task with Kirk starting.” He then went on to say, “We have to play well around Kirk so Kirk doesn’t feel like he has to save the team and help him to be a comfortable as possible.”

It may not be a ringing endorsement of the rookie quarterback from Michigan State, but it certainly sounds like he will get the nod Sunday in favor of an injured Robert Grififn III.

Obviously, the Redskins offense is going to have a different feel this Sunday in Cleveland. The whole team will have a different vibe if their electrifying quarterback is sidelined at the beginning of a game for the first time in his very young career.

But what does Cousins bring to the table? Exactly how different will the Redskins offense look with the rookie, whose jersey number reminds us all of Gus Frerotte, leading the helm?

Well, for starters, you can wave goodbye to runs of this nature:

Certainly, Cousins doesn't quite have the blazing speed that RGIII does, but he's not exactly Vince Wilfork, either. He did run a 4.84 40-yard dash at the combine, after all.

Don't expect to see the exact same offense that the Redskins run with Griffin, but it should be something very similar.

The read options, which the Redskins have run to near-perfection this season, will be limited, if present at all. That will be the key difference.

That means it is more likely that Mike Shanahan will lean heavily on another impressive rookie, running back Alfred Morris.

The Browns will certainly have that same thought process and are guaranteed to stack the box to try and prevent Morris from beating them on the ground.

The good news for Washington is that Morris hasn't been that easy to stop. He's currently No. 4 in rushing in the NFL, just seven yards behind fellow rookie Doug Martin for the No. 3 spot.

Also, with Morris being targeted, it should open up the passing game for Cousins and the Redskins.

Although I mentioned the lack of zone-read options earlier, there will be no shortage of play-action passes and intermediate throws. Cousins does have solid mobility and can throw a nice ball on the run or under pressure.

Need evidence? Here it is:

It will be interesting to see what the entire game plan looks like. We've only seen Cousins in spot duty while playing from behind late in games.

What you can expect is a plan similar to the one the Redskins used in Week 1 against New Orleans to help Robert Griffin III get acclimated to playing in the NFL.

There were a lot of handoffs, a lot of screen passes, a lot of play action and the occasional deep ball to Pierre Garcon and the rest of the gang.

We'll see how it pans out against a Cleveland team that has been just as good as any other in the AFC North over the past month. Technically, they are still fighting for a playoff spot, just like the Redskins are.

If you think Cousins is going to come in and pass for 400 yards on them and that the Redskins will win by 40, I think you are going to be disappointed.

He should be able to excel, though, as long as the Redskins stick to the plan. Rest assured, Mike Shanahan will be prepared. He, along with offensive coordinator and son Kyle, surely devised a game plan for Cousins when they saw how quickly their franchise QB can leave a game after RGIII suffered a concussion against Atlanta.

I'm not planning on a Brady-for-Bledsoe situation, but this is a game in which Cousins can showcase his talents.