One of the key reasons why the Washington Redskins’ offense seemingly didn’t miss a beat last Sunday vs. the Cleveland Browns with rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins making his first-career start was its use of the play-action pass.
The Redskins feature the No. 1 rushing offense in the league, so Cousins and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan were able to use that to their advantage several times to get huge chunks of yards on various drives.
The NFL Network’s “Playbook” crew of Brian Baldinger, Sterling Sharpe and former Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb broke this down in the above video.
Baldinger went to the film and showed two perfect examples of how the Redskins used play-action to their advantage vs. the Browns. On a 1st-and-10 play, Washington utilized a two tight-end set against Cleveland’s Cover 3 look. Cousins faked the handoff to Alfred Morris — the league’s third-leading rusher — and was easily able to connect with wide receiver Pierre Garçon across the middle for a first down.
The Redskins’ offensive line — and Morris — sold the fake perfectly, and the Browns’ defense had to respect it.
Washington then had a three-receiver set against another Cover 3 look, and this time, Santana Moss broke free in the open field across the middle, and Cousins found him for a respectable gain.
Cousins — this week’s recipient of both the NFL’s Rookie of the Week and its “Never Say Never” Moment — deserves tons of praise for coming in and chewing through that opportunistic Cleveland offense like he did. With Robert Griffin III‘s expected return tomorrow against the Philadelphia Eagles — who are more than capable of getting to the quarterback — it’ll be interesting to see how the Washington offense responds this time around.
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