Washington Redskins: What We Learned About Kirk Cousins on Sunday

Korey BeckettContributor IIIDecember 18, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 16: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #12 of the Washington Redskins passes under pressure from defensive end Jabaal Sheard #97 of the Cleveland Browns during the second half at Cleveland Browns Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Redskins defeated the Browns 38-21. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Undoubtedly, a lot of people are excited about the prospect of the Redskins having two talented quarterbacks. You know, compared to the zero that they had over the last 20 years.

Unless you want to count Mark Brunell, Brad Johnson, Jason Campbell or Gus Frerotte as being more than marginal. Then be my guest.

It may be a tad early to start sculpting bronze busts of either Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins, but it is clear that both are immensely talented and capable of leading an NFL team to a victory.

For Cousins, we haven't seen a lot, but he's led the Redskins to a win in two out of his three appearances. That one loss was in his first appearance against an Atlanta team that is currently sitting at 12-2. Not a bad start for Cousins so far.

It will be interesting to see what the Redskins do with Cousins. I've already speculated on that and will likely revisit the situation in the future. For now, though, let's take a look at what he brings.

Now that we've seen a whole 60-minute contest with a game plan wrapped around the former Michigan State Spartan, we have learned quite a bit, though. And so far, we like what we've learned.


He Already Has a Mastery of the Offense

Mike Shanahan still gets heat from some Redskins fans, but there is no doubting the man knows exactly what he wants from a quarterback. This year, he has gotten that, and then some.

Now obviously, Cousins doesn't quite have the same type of dynamic ability with his legs that RGIII has, but it's clear as day that he knows the playbook well. There are a few pages in there that I am sure are reserved for RGIII, but Cousins has the rest locked down.

He was asked to throw to all places on the field and didn't disappoint. Kyle Shanahan called a very balanced game with 37 passes and 32 rushes, but for a rookie in his first start, that's a good vote of confidence from your offensive coordinator.

Now that he's settled in, expect them to open up even more if Cousins does indeed start for a second straight game.


His Accuracy Isn't Going to be a Question

Kirk Cousins got off to a shaky start, but he bounced back after a 54-yard touchdown to Leonard Hankerson late in the first quarter.

After he got in his confidence on that beautiful throw, Cousins was deadly accurate on all levels of depth. He was completing passes deep, short, intermediately, behind the line, you name it.

He finished with a solid mark of 26-for-37, which is good enough for a 70.2 percent accuracy. That percentage rate is four percent higher than RGIII's game average this season.

Also, his average of 8.9 yards per attempt is slightly above Robert Griffin's season average of eight.

He's every bit as accurate as RGIII, at least in the one full game we've seen him, but even in his spot appearances, he's been on the mark.

Time for a permanent change at quarterback, perhaps? Just kidding. Don't be ridiculous.

He Can't Run Like RGIII, But He's Still Mobile

One reason that Shanahan and the Redskins wanted Cousins was his ability spread the pocket and throw on the run.

It may not be a popular saying (it should be), but if you have a quarterback that can extend plays, you have a quarterback that can extend drives.

He turned in multiple first downs (including a 17-yard scamper on a third down) on plays that he was able to extend. On both touchdown passes to Leonard Hankerson, he was certainly not throwing from a standard "set" position.

According to ESPN's Stats and Information Department, he was 15-for-19 on play-action passes, averaging over 12 yards per attempt. Also, he tossed two touchdowns and no interceptions on those plays. The art of deception was certainly a friend to the Redskins in Cleveland.

He may not be the prototypical quarterback to perform options and zone reads, but the bootlegs that he ran on play action were phenomenal.


He's Resilient and Can Get Over Mistakes

It didn't look good early. After the first-quarter interception set up a rushing touchdown for Trent Richardson and the Browns to bury the Redskins under a 7-0 lead, I could see some of the Redskins fans eyes glaze over when I looked around Cleveland Browns Stadium.

It appeared it was going to be a long day and such a fitting way for a remarkable Redskins dash to the playoffs end...with another injury.

That was not to be, though. Cousins pulled himself up (after making a nice tackle on the interception return), kept his head high and led the Redskins to 38 points and was virtually mistake-free.

Mistakes are going to happen, and so far he has responded greatly. After throwing two interceptions in a late bid to beat the Falcons earlier in the season, Cousins came in with his next appearance and helped win the game against Baltimore.

The same thing happened again, he was responsible for putting the Redskins in a hole and got them out. Then he filled that hole with dirt and built a nice cottage on top of it.


This Won't Be His Last Start

Whether RGIII gets injured again along the way, or Cousins gets paid Oprah-esque money by a sad-sack franchise like Arizona or Oakland, we'll see him suit up as a starter again.

He's definitely earning his money so far and the question for the Redskins will be this: Is he more valuable as a backup or a trade piece?

We'll find out someday, but for now, just enjoy what you are seeing, Redskins fans.


Korey Beckett is a Featured Columnist for the Washington Redskins and Bleacher Report's fantasy football coverage. Like him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/koreybeckettBR and can be contacted at koreydbeckett@gmail.com