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Hazard's Huddle: "The Darkside of Anticipation" Starring Kirk Cousins

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An All-22 film look at the negatives of anticipation in the passing game.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

You hear it all the time to describe good quarterbacks: Anticipation. Throwing a pass before a receiver has made his break only to have him finish his route and meet the ball at a certain location is a thing of pure beauty. One step that Kirk Cousins has on Robert Griffin III is anticipation. Kirk gets the ball out early while Rg3 tends to hold the ball too long. Here's the thing about anticipation: It only works if you know what you're looking at. Example:

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This is from early in the game. Redskins run Shotgun Trips Right Y-Iso. They have a speed slant from the Y-Iso side and on the trips side they have two fly routes to clear out for the deep out route underneath. Giants show two safeties so unless it's a disguise, Cousins knows it's Cover 2 man, Cover 2 zone or Cover 4.

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The slant off the line is wide open because defender plays too deep but Cousins is looking the other way. He sees both outside defenders turn their backs to the QB, focusing on a man so that alerts Cousins to man coverage. Andre Roberts already had outside leverage on his out route so he should be open on the out route.

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Cousins delivers the ball to a wide open Roberts but the ball is way behind and they can't connect on a completion.

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Fast forward to much later in the game. Look familiar? Same play out of Shotgun Trips Right Y-Iso. Giants give the same two deep safety look so it appears Cousins already has his heart set on correcting his original mistake of throwing behind Roberts.

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Once again, the slant is wide open from the left which I know Cousins saw on the screencaps but chooses not to go to it. The CB on the middle route is back-pedaling with his eyes on the QB which should alert Cousins to zone coverage. It doesn't.

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The CB peels off that route and sits down in his zone in front of where Roberts is running his route.

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Cousins anticipates Roberts route but doesn't anticipate the CB being there.

I said from the beginning, Cousins can put up all the stats he wants but there is no QB controversy with no wins. I was "told" by twitter followers that RG3 "never" would have done that. Well, technically holding the ball and taking sacks is less damaging than throwing early and getting intercepted but the end result remains the same. Losses. Pick your poison. Both QBs have their faults and we'll have to live and die by either one, but if Cousins doesn't win, there is no question on whose faults we'll be living and dying by.