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Hazard's Huddle: Kirk Cousins Colors Inside the Lines

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The traits that make Kirk Cousins good are also the ones that make him bad.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, after Robert Griffin III received a limited amount of snaps and opportunities to throw, it's only natural for Kirk Cousins to come in and put up more numbers. There are obvious reasons for this but fans with an agenda will use it to fuel the Griffin vs. Cousins debate, regardless.

Here is the problem with Kirk Cousins: What makes him good, also makes him bad. Let me show you an example.

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1. This is the back shoulder throw play. Some fans loved the play because Cousins gave his WR a chance to get the ball and it was complete. Some fans said it was a throw off his back foot and a dangerous pass which was "typical Kirk." Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I'll tell you why I loved the throw. Notice only 10 Browns players in the picture. That's because they are playing a Cover 1 man with a single high safety (the one not pictured). At the point, Kirk Cousins already knows where he is going with the ball. The sail route by Roberts should be open as long as Cousins can manipulate the safety.

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On Cousins' drop, he looks middle to left the entire way, which holds the safety in the middle of the field.

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OT Willie Smith gives up pressure as Cousins whips his head back right, where he planned on going with the ball the whole time, and lets the ball go. The pressure affects the pass a bit but he has confidence in the throw because he knows he has Roberts one on one after he held the safety in place.

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The ball is a little short but Cousins gave his guy a chance and Andre Roberts climbs the ladder and grabs the ball.

That is an excellent play. Textbook. That's exactly how you draw it up......in therein lies the problem. Kirk Cousins can be very efficient, if it goes exactly how you draw it up. What Kirk Cousins struggles with is ad-libbing which you get with the more talented players you face. That's why Cousins can look so good against a 2nd team defense but struggle so much with starters.

The easiest way to compare it is playing Madden. When you play the CPU, it's very easy because you know all 11 players are going to carry out their assignment. As long as you can identify what the defense is doing pre-snap, you should have no issue. This is what Kirk Cousins is great at doing. Now, playing against Users is much harder. When a User takes control of that MLB or SS and starts roaming around the field it causes problems. That's where Kirk Cousins struggles. Anything outside of the framework of a play, and it causes a problem for Cousins. Fans criticized him for throwing into double coverage on one play, again labelled "typical Kirk," but he did everything up until the throw correctly. Let me show you.

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The Redskins come out in a Twins Right look. Again, you can only see 10 Browns because they have one single high safety deep and out of the shot. The Redskins are going to use motion across the formation just to confirm the coverage.

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As the receiver crosses the formation, you can see he has a player from the Browns trailing him confirming that it's Cover 1 man.

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Kirk Cousins already knows where he is going with the ball. He has speedster Rashad Ross in a one on one press situation at the top of the screen. All Cousins needs to do is hold the safety to give Ross a chance (and make a good throw, of course).

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Cousins drops back and again looks at middle  to left of the field to hold the safety. Problem is, the safety isn't biting this time. But Cousins colors inside of the lines so if he looks left, he assumes that's where the safety SHOULD go even though it didn't work.

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Cousins turns back to his original intended receiver and fires the ball immediately.

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The ball might have hung slightly, we all know Cousins' arm isn't the strongest but if Cousins "look-off-the-safety" move would have worked, it would have been a one on one situation.

That is what makes Kirk Cousins a frustrating player. He did absolutely everything you want from a quarterback. He read the coverage, identified the match-up, understood the concept of the play and why it was intended, he looked off the only possible help, but it was the FS who didn't do what he was "suppose" to do. Cousins only mistake was not recognizing that. He uses his mind for where he is going with the ball instead of his eyes. Before a play starts, he has an entire outline in his mind of where everyone on the field is going to be which is great for a quarterback but does a poor job with his eyes confirming it. That's why Cousins will sometimes throw that interception RIGHT to a defender because that's not where Cousins planned on him being, yet that is where he was located.

Cousins needs to loosen up his game and move away from being such a robotic player. He has a great grasp of concepts and goal of plays, looking like a well-oiled machine at times. But when things aren't smooth or moving "predictably" is when Cousins struggles. He needs to learn to adapt. Both Griffin and Cousins have their strengths and their weaknesses, here is to both players working on their craft, improving their game and hopefully contributing to a successful Redskins season, no matter which role either player is given.