Cousins Bucs Cover @SamuelRGold

Kirk Cousins vs Buccaneers (33/40, 317 yards, 4 Total TDs, 0 INT)

Kirk Cousins won NFC Offensive Player of the Week after beating the Buccaneers at home in a comeback victory. Completing 33 passes in 40 attempts, Cousins threw for 317 yards and 3 touchdowns. Additionally, he ran the ball three times for 15 yards and a touchdown on various read-option packages. The Redskins started the game down 24 points against the Jameis Winston-led Buccaneers. Under Cousins’ leadership, the Redskins rallied to score 21 unanswered points to give them a shot at a game-winning drive with 2:24 left in the game.

The Redskins didn’t start the game well. They punted on their first three drives, while their fourth ended in a strip-fumble touchdown for the defense.

3rd and 7 at TB 45 – (8:19 – 2nd) Howard Jones 43 Yd Fumble Return (Connor Barth Kick)

Cousins lines up in empty-set shotgun with trips right – slot left. The Buccaneers’ defense sits in a Cover 2 look pre-snap and then shifts their left cornerback deep to form a Cover 3 shell post-snap. Cousins takes the snap and starts looking left with the intention to pass the ball to Jamison Crowder or Jordan Reed on the left side of the field.

Unfortunately as Cousins is starting his throwing motion, defensive end #56 Jacquies Smith beats his blocker in a dip-and-rip for a strip fumble before Cousins can release the ball. The strip happened so quickly that Cousins didn’t have time to get to his next level reads. Morgan Moses needs to do a better job of flattening his pass rushers’ pursuit in order to keep him away from Cousins.

CousinsFumble @SamuelRGold

A couple notes about this play before moving on:

1. Right tackle Morgan Moses was clearly beat after the snap by Jacquies Smith.

2. Crowder is open AFTER Cousins gets stripped. The cushion you see for the majority of the play is after 2.5 seconds – the time it took Cousins to be stripped.

3. Cousins’ intended target after the snap was Crowder. Reed was his second reed on the crossing route. If this was Cover 2 like Cousins interpreted pre-snap, then this is an easy completion to Reed behind and between the two inside linebackers over the middle of the field.

4. Garcon was open but he was never the intended target on the play. Why? This is again due to the fact that Cousins reasonably interpreted the pre-snap coverage as Cover 2. This means that Garcon’s defender would be playing off-man coverage or would be playing his zone deeper and would be attacking underneath routes on the right sideline making the 12 yard hitch difficult to complete.

5. Cousins’ third read, WR12 Andre Roberts, would have been open over the middle of the field if the offensive line (Moses) could have held their blocks for more than 2.5 seconds.


3rd and 2 at TB 47 – (1:48 – 2nd) (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass incomplete deep right to A.Roberts (C.Conte) [H.Melton]

This is my least favorite throw by Cousins all game. The Redskins go to the line in shotgun trips right and motion Jamison Crowder into shotgun slot right far. The Buccaneers show Cover 1 Man pre-snap then drop their outside cornerbacks into a Cover 3 shell post-snap. This allows the slot receiver, Andre Roberts, to be wide open between the middle and deep zones on his seam route. Cousins hesitates and throws the ball late and high to the wide open receiver allowing free safety Chris Conte to hit him cleanly jarring the ball loose.

This ball should have been released lower and a full second earlier off of Cousins’ initial read of the right side of the defense. Roberts is Cousins’ second read on the play, yet this could have been an easy reception for the offense on 3rd and short.


1st and 10 at WSH 31 – (10:25 – 2nd) K.Cousins pass deep left to P.Garcon to TB 48 for 21 yards (C.Conte)

After a few other poorly executed plays like the one above, Cousins started connecting his passes leading the Redskins down the field like on this crossing pattern to wide receiver #88 Pierre Garcon. Cousins places the ball perfectly with touch underneath the Cover 1 defense of the Buccaneers.

The Redskins defense stepped up mightily after giving up 200 yards in the first quarter alone. By the third quarter Cousins was able to string together a drive ending in a touchdown to Ryan Grant on the goal line. This is a busted play by the defense. Clearly there is a miscommunication between the two outside defenders after Grant motions across the line of scrimmage pre-snap. Both defenders cover Garcon’s drag route leaving Grant wide open in the back right of the endzone.

An onside kick and a touchdown to Jordan Reed put the Redskins only down by three points. The Buccaneers kick two field goals while the Redskins only can manage one making the score 30-24 with 2:24 left in the game. On the final drive two of the most important plays happened for the Redskins’ offense: one good and one bad.

2nd and 7 at TB 24 – (0:58 – 4th) (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass deep right to J.Crowder pushed ob at TB 6 for 18 yards (M.Jenkins)

The Redskins run a switch-concept on the right side of the field featuring rookie 5th round pick Jamison Crowder. He runs a wheel route up the right sideline. This is a great play call using Crowder’s speed against cornerback #24 Mike Jenkins who can’t press Crowder at the line of scrimmage.

Cousins places the ball short, but Crowder is able to adjust to the pass to bring it in for the 18 yard gain. Due to Crowder’s separation and edge around the corner, Cousins really should have put this pass further up the field for his receiver.

2nd and Goal at TB 6 – (0:32 – 4th) (Shotgun) K.Cousins pass incomplete short left to A.Roberts (C.Conte)

The last play was the good play; this is the bad play and it happened right before the game winning pass to Jordan Reed. Cousins attempts to force the pass to Roberts and the ball almost gets intercepted in the endzone. Cousins does not see the zone defender sitting behind Roberts. Just awful.


Cousins benefited the most this week by the return of tight end Jordan Reed to the lineup. Reed was injured the past few weeks and in his return he caught 11 passes on 13 targets for 72 yards and 2 touchdowns including the game winner. Reed will continue to be a huge factor for this offense as long as he stays healthy.

3rd and 5 at TB 3 – (6:56 – 3rd) Jordan Reed Pass From Kirk Cousins for 3 Yrds D.Hopkins extra point is GOOD, Center-N.Sundberg, Holder-T.Way.

Both of Jordan Reed’s touchdowns came on slant routes versus man-to-man coverage. The first of his two touchdowns was on a rub-concept using running back #31 Matt Jones on a seam route to create the underneath separation. Cousins places the ball right into Reed’s hands for the score.

3rd and Goal at TB 6 – (0:24 – 4th) Jordan Reed Pass From Kirk Cousins for 6 Yrds D.Hopkins extra point is GOOD, Center-N.Sundberg, Holder-T.Way.

The second touchdown was a direct one-on-one match-up against Reed and his defender. Reed releases off of the line and instantly beats his man inside. By the way safety McDougald was lined up three yards off of the line of scrimmage it gave Cousins the clue to throw Reed’s direction. McDougald appeared to be preparing for a fade route which the Redskins ran his direction on first down.

The fascinating part of this play is the four wide receiver bunch on the left side of the field that is highlighted in the GIF below. The Redskins are setting up for their favorite bubble-screen pass to wide receiver #80 Jamison Crowder, but since the matchup on the right side of the field is more favorable, Cousins trusts his tight end to win the route.

Going back to the first half of the game, the Buccaneers controlled the line of scrimmage ripping off 5-6 yard runs with Doug Martin left and right. They almost lost due to a 49 yard scamper by Doug Martin up the right sideline in the 4th quarter. Fortunately Bashaud Breeland’s hustle stopped him at the 5 yard line. The defense only gave up a field goal on that drive as opposed to a touchdown.

The Buccaneers were unstoppable in the first half, but they fell apart in the second. The first problem they faced was poor clock management. The Buccaneers used their final timeout with 4:45 left in the game which would have been useful on their final drive. They also committed 16 penalties for over 140 yards. This greatly helped the Redskins move up and down the field.

From the Redskins perspective they are still struggling with the run game. 19 carries for 50 yards and one touchdown is a dismal stat line which forced the Redskins to be one-dimensional. Normally, bad Cousins and the aforementioned penalties kept the Redskins alive. If you take out Cousins’ three carries it leaves us with a 16 total carries and 35 yards on the ground. This is good for only 2.2 yards per carry. Simply unacceptable.

The good news for the Redskins is that Cousins showed he has the ability to lead a team from the brink of chaos. This performance set Redskins’ franchise records including the most completions by a Redskins quarterback and largest comeback in team history. The Redskins face the undefeated Patriots after a bye next week. They will hopefully have their talented deep threat, DeSean Jackson, back which should open up the playbook even more for Cousins going forward.

Follow Samuel Gold on Twitter: @SamuelRGold.

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.