Kirk Cousins’ 9 Interceptions in 2014

In my last article I broke down Kirk Cousins’ ten touchdowns during weeks 2 through 7. In this article we will go over his nine interceptions starting with his first one that occurred during the third week of the season against the Eagles. It was these untimely interceptions that caused Gruden to bench Kirk Cousins in favor of Colt McCoy.

Here are links to the other Redskins quarterbacks I’ve done this season:

Season Stats
Cousins – 126/204 (61.8%), 1,710 yards, 8.4 y/a, 10 TDs, 9 INTs, 7 rushes for 20 yards

First let’s look at the intended targets of the interceptions.

Receiver Breakdown

Andre Roberts 3
Pierre Garcon 2
DeSean Jackson 2
Ryan Grant 1
Niles Paul 1


Next let’s see which quarter and what down the interceptions occurred. The vast majority of the interceptions occurred in the 2nd half with most in the 4th quarter. Not a good sign!

Quarter Breakdown

1st Quarter 0
2nd Quarter 1
3rd Quarter 3
4th Quarter 5


Down Breakdown

1st Down 4
2nd Down 2
3rd Down 3
4th Down 0


As well as the distance and location of the interceptions.

Distance Breakdown

Fewer than 6 Yards 3
Between 6 and 15 yards 2
More than 15 yards 4


Location Breakdown

Deep Left Deep Middle Deep Right
2 1 1
Intermediate Left Intermediate Middle Intermediate Right
0 1 1
Short Left Short Middle Short Right
1 1 1


Here are the routes that were intercepted as well. Most of the intercepted passes were on deep throws and passes across the middle of the field.

Route Breakdown

Vertical – Go/Seam/Fade 3
Slant/Shallow Cross/In 3
Post 1
Curl 1
Out 1


Let’s go over the plays below:

Play 1
Situation: 1st and 10 at WSH 20
Description: Q4 – (7:34) K.Cousins pass deep right intended for N.Paul INTERCEPTED by M.Jenkins at WAS 41. M.Jenkins ran ob at WAS 35 for 6 yards.
Opponent: 3. PHI

Offensive Formation: Singleback Slot Left
Offensive Personnel: 11
Defensive Formation: Cover 1

This play features three receivers and a tight end that go out for a pass where the inside receivers run seam routes while the outside receivers run hitch patterns by the sidelines. FS27 Jenkins is playing deep Cover 1 responsibilities on 1st and 10 while the Eagles bring five pass rushers.

Kirk Cousins takes the snap, finds the deep safety and releases the ball to TE84 Niles Paul on the seam route from the right side of the formation. The two inside linebackers are playing over the middle of the field with release responsibilities if the tight end or the running back come to their side of the field to cover them in man coverage. Cousins thinks Paul has his man beat so he attempts to lob the ball over the linebacker’s head right into the diving arms of FS27 Jenkins who breaks on the route immediately after Cousins starts his wind-up for the throw and makes a diving interception on the ball.

Going back to the play design, the Eagles actually did a good job of shutting down this play all around. None of the Redskins receivers were clearly open. WR11 Jackson is the only wide receiver at the bottom of your screen who is remotely open as soon as he breaks on his hitch route. So give credit to a stout defense on this play by the Eagles. Second, watch TE84 Paul on his route. Paul doesn’t think he is even being targetted by Cousins here based on the tight coverage and he slows down on his route, which is evidenced by the clearly overthrown ball. Third, give credit to Jenkins for coming from deep center field down for the interception. Normally, these type of throws are just incomplete passes on miscommunications between the QB and the WR, but Jenkins makes the Redskins pay.

Playa 2
Situation: 3rd and 3 at WSH 43
Description: Q3 – (8:05) (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass short left intended for R.Grant INTERCEPTED by P.Amukamara at WAS 49. P.Amukamara to WAS 21 for 28 yards (R.Helu).
Opponent: 4. NYG

Offensive Formation: Shotgun Twin Stacks Right Far
Offensive Personnel: 11
Defensive Formation: Cover 1

Cousins takes the snap and instantly finds WR14 Ryan Grant on the curl route. CB20 Amukamara does a great job of shutting down Grant and coming back for the interception.

In this play, Cousins has an excellent pocket as the Redskins offensive line plus runningback pick up the Giants six man pass rush excellently. It seems like Cousins knew immediately from his pre-snap reads where he was going with the ball, but since he had time to read post-snap he didn’t need to rush to fire the ball to Grant who was well covered. Honestly, the worst part of this play was not the decision (throwing a curl route against man-to-man coverage), but the throw itself. It’s WAY too far inside. This needs to be placed on the outside shoulder of Grant which would allow Grant at the very least to be able to fight off Amukamara and stop an interception. Full blame goes to Cousins on this one.

Play 3
Situation: 2nd and 9 at WSH 2
Description: Q3 – (5:51) K.Cousins pass deep left intended for P.Garcon INTERCEPTED by Q.Demps at WAS 38. Q.Demps to WAS 35 for 3 yards (P.Garcon).
Opponent: 4. NYG

Offensive Formation: Offset-I Right
Offensive Personnel: 21
Defensive Formation: Cover 1

After Cousins takes the snap from his own 2 yard on 2nd down, he finds WR88 Garcon breaking inside on his go-route from the left side of the field. Garcon is actually open at this point, but Cousins sails the ball well over Garcon’s head allowing FS35 Demps to make an easy interception.

Watch Demps’ (the lone free safety on the play) for the entire play. He watches Cousins eyes and starts drifting towards the left side of the field, but even a well thrown ball shorter and more to the inside would have been a completion to Garcon and probably a big play. Another thing to note is Cousins’ footwork as he is releasing the ball. He is shifting to the left instead of planting and driving through his throw. This is likely what causes the ball to be overthrown on this play.

Play 4
Situation: 2nd and 11 at WSH 24
Description: Q3 – (:40) (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass short right intended for A.Roberts INTERCEPTED by T.McBride at WAS 33. T.McBride to WAS 22 for 11 yards (L.Paulsen).
Opponent: 4. NYG

Offensive Formation: Shotgun Trips Bunch Right – “Lasso” Call
Offensive Personnel: 11
Defensive Formation: Cover 4

On second down the Redskins bring out their favorite personnel package of the 2014 season – Trips Bunch with a lone tight end on the opposite side of the formation. Typically the Redskins like to run this with TE86 Reed, but he was out and the fearsome tight end Logan Paulsen took his place! Just kidding…

This is one of my least favorite interceptions Cousins threw all season. In this play, Pauslen runs a drag route across the field and he’s open, but Cousins doesn’t see him and tries to force the ball into WR12 Roberts’ hands on an out route completely missing the underneath linebacker sitting in his zone waiting for the ball. Just awful. Really with the inside linebacker and the left outside linebacker shifting in their zones to the right side of the field, Cousins should have taken this as a clue to find Paulsen as the middle of the field was vacated completely. This one is 100% on Cousins.

Article continues on the next page.

Samuel Gold

Sam founded NFL Breakdowns after working his way through the journalist farm system and is enjoying life in the big league. Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., Sam didn’t choose the Redskins, the Redskins chose him. Out of a love for the game and an insatiable curiosity to determine why his beloved team was underperforming, Sam turned to studying film in NFL Breakdowns.