1.) Can we just, like, stop trying to rip each other’s heads off with this Kirk vs. RGIII stuff? I mean seriously. Most teams don’t have one good quarterback. We have two. That’s a luxury. But this Redskins Civil War thing that’s brewing? It’s stupid.
2.) Also, it’s dumb to blame anything that’s happening right now on Kirk. Kirk’s just going out there and doing what he’s told. He’s saying all the right things because … well, what in the blue hell is Kirk to say? “I hate Mike Shanahan and his dumb son Kyle too”? Kirk’s a good dude in a bad, BAD situation right now, and he as to make the best of it he can.
3.) Here’s part of the difference between Kirk and RGIII, and part of what I think is a combination of a coaching failure and player error. Let’s say RG3 gets this play…
When Kyle calls this play, it’s a play they’ve practiced all week. It’s in the gameplan. And what Kyle has said all week is this; based on this coverage, and this down and distance, this route WILL be open. Not “it might be, it should be, it could be.” Based on the coverage here, the right play, technically, is this comeback route. It’s an isolation route, where Rob is basically looking at this one receiver the whole way.
4.) When Kyle calls a play like this, 85% of the time, Robert is going to throw this route. Because that’s what he’s coached to do. It’s an isolation route, you have one on one coverage. This route should be open, and it’s been drilled into his head all week that it’ll be open.
5.) But sometimes, the defense wins. And sometimes you get the exact look you want…
And it’s not open. That’s where Robert struggles at times — he’ll take a pre-snap look, get the look that he practiced against all week, but they either change the look, or the defense just wins. It happens. Even if the post snap look is different, Rob will make the throw, because that’s where he’s been coached to throw the ball. Kyle said it’ll be there, we practiced against the defense and it was there. Now it’s not here. But you make the throw anyway.
6.) Trent Dilfer said a few weeks ago before the Redskins Monday Night Football game versus the 49ers that one of the reasons RGIII and Kaepernick are struggling is because offensive coordinators get so smart about the Xs and Os, they don’t allow their guys to go out, read, react, and play the quarterback position naturally. You’re drilled on these plays all week. You never play against a bad defense in practice and have to adjust. The coordinator spends all week diagramming all the plays and studying tendencies and drawing up counters, and they teach you in the meetings all week that the defense will be there.
As a result, guys like Robert and Kap don’t learn progressions the same way as guys like Andrew Luck , Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins do. They learn how to read one side of the field, and usually how to read one guy.
7.) That’s where Kirk has an advantage. Kirk has learned when to hold and when to fold ‘em. He understands, because of his own experiences from Michigan State, that sometimes, that isolation route isn’t going to be there. You don’t always the get the exact look you want, the exact way you want. The coach may drill it into your head all week, but sometimes you get in the game and it’s not there. So Kirk has learned that if one’s not there, even if the coach says it’s there, go to two.
8.) That’s why it looks like Kirk gets the ball out so fast. Rob is waiting for a route to come open (sometimes). Kirk is either letting ‘er rip, or he’s already thinking about moving to his next read. That’s not a knock on Rob. He’s learning. He’s capable of making those plays. On occasional he does, but not consistently. But this is where it comes back to coaching.
9.) I don’t think Kyle ever really built a foundation of progression reading into the offense in Robert’s first season. I think the Pistol and the read-option were convenient crutches. I also think Kyle was totally caught off guard the defenses took away those seemingly unstoppable plays from 2012. But Kyle never developed a counter punch. And since we used so much read-option and pistol to “help” RG3, we actually set him back. Other spread quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Andy Dalton were given elements of their college offenses, but they still learned the fundamentals of dropback passing and progression reading.
Kyle found a trick that worked, and then abused that trick to the detriment of his QB. When defenses took those things away, Rob, already missing a whole offseason, had no foundation to go back to.
10.) This isn’t to completely excuse Robert. He has thrown some bad balls. He’s had some bad mechanics. He’s made some bad reads even when the plays are there. But one wonders if Kyle’s system is too regimented for Robert and if it doesn’t allow him to play naturally and make reads accordingly. That’s why favors the spread and the hurry up; it allows him to get into a rhythm and cut it loose, and spreading the field allows him to make quicker, smarter decisions. Kyle kept constricting the field with him, compacting the formations and bunching up the receivers, making a guy who is still learning make reads he’s not in a position to make right now. Rob needs a teacher, and I just don’t know if Kyle is a good teacher. I think Kyle has a system he believes works, but I think he needs a more developed guy to run it. You know, like Kirk.
11.) I don’t think Kirk is better than RGIII. I don’t think either is better right now. I think arguing who is better than who is basically a dumb argument. Both do certain thinks better than the other. Kirk had a good, not great game. The same things I saw him do at Michigan State, he did Sunday. I saw him get the ball out quick and make some big plays. I saw him struggle to be accurate on the intermediate-level which led to a couple picks. He was generally better at using his eyes than Robert as, but I saw him telegraph some throws too. I saw him put up a lot of yards on a bad defense in the first half, then the third quarter the offense bogged down, and then we had a chance to win it at the end and we didn’t pull it out.
Basically, it was a repeat of the Minnesota and New York games, only with #12 under center instead of #10.
But you’ll have a hard time convincing me that RGIII couldn’t have done as well against Atlanta. I know some people will argue that RGIII played poorly against bad defenses, but the San Diego and Chicago games didn’t go away, nor did the first halves versus the Vikings and the Giants. I’m not taking anything away from Kirk. I’m just saying that if Mike Shanahan hoped to prove that his team would be boosted by a Kirk Cousins, that point didn’t come throw on Sunday.