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Cousins Prepares For Read-Option Offense

Posted Apr 10, 2013

Redskins QB Kirk Cousins told ESPN's NFL Live that he is expecting to try his hand at the zone-read offense this offseason while Robert Griffin III recovers from knee surgery.

Last offseason, the Redskins’ offensive coaching staff focused on learning and perfecting the read-option offense in preparation for quarterback Robert Griffin III’s arrival in Washington.

The move paid off, as the Redskins shattered conventional wisdom and proved that the option offense will work in the National Football League.

Defenses are kept off balance by the quarterback’s ability to run the ball, pitch to a running back or throw the ball downfield.

The key to this non-traditional scheme is the speed and agility of the quarterback, something that ideally suits Griffin III’s speed.

With him out of the picture for offseason workouts, backup quarterback Kirk Cousins said he is prepared and excited to try his hand at the option.

“I’m doing weight training and doing some agility work on my own, trying to get the most out of my athleticism that I can,” Cousins said on ESPN’s NFL Live, Monday. “When we get back to D.C., I’m sure we’ll take the time--now that it’s not only a matter of days away from a game but we have a matter of months--we have the time to work on something like the zone-read.”

Cousins made three appearances for the Redskins last season, making one start in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns.

He took the majority of the snaps with the first team offense during the three days of practice preceding the game, but the coaching staff elected not to implement the read-option on Sunday.

Part of this had to do with Cousins’s experience in the system, which was limited during his time in the NFL and college.

“It’s not something that you can just suddenly have down, it takes time, it takes reps. Getting comfortable with the read itself,” Cousins explained. “Robert and other quarterbacks who have run it, usually have run it quite a bit in college already so by the time they get to the pros, that read has become pretty familiar with them.

“For me, that wasn’t something I did at Michigan State, so I need to get more familiar with the feel of how to make that read.  That will take reps, that’ll take time and we’ll see if I can do it.”

Regardless of how he fares, the offense will look different under Cousins than it did under Griffin III.

In three rushes last season, Cousins averaged 7.3 yards per carry last season, but his 4.93 40-yard dash is a far cry from Griffin III’s blistering 4.3 speed.

Cousins knows where his strengths lie.

“I don’t want to give anybody the indication that this could be my bread and butter,” he said of the zone read. “I’m still going to be a drop back quarterback. But the fact is that we do run it with Robert [Griffin III], and I think that’s something I have to do and be ready to do.

“It’s only going to make our offense that much better.”

And if the coaching staff decides Kirk Cousins is best suited for a traditional scheme, he said he is okay with that as well.

“At the end of the day, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning are still moving the football and not running the zone-read,” he said. “I don’t believe I have to do it for us to be successful, but at the same time if I can its certainly worth a shot.”

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