Kirk Cousins takes most of the blame for any struggles on offense. That includes Week 5's 25-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, a game in which much went right for the Washington Redskins until the gut punch finish.
My job is to look at the big picture and to be fair. Every unit and just about every individual had a part in the bottom-line result, but also in giving the underdogs a tantalizing close upset opportunity.
As for Cousins, the quarterback was more off than on in the Georgia Dome against a fast, aggressive defense. Cousins threw behind targets. He did this a lot. Whether you watched in real time or later on the All-22 film, those constant misfires were hard to miss.
There is something else hard miss to when examining those passes or rather, the targets of those passes. The Redskins do not have a single wide receiver on their roster that is above 6’0” tall.
If you don’t think that matters, we are on different planets. By the way, how is the Wi-Fi signal on Mars anyway?
No, you do not HAVE to be tall to be good. It helps. It helps a lot.
Of course, you have to have speed and you have to be able to catch the ball consistently while being a solid route-runner. Another important element is having large catch radius. Not every throw is going to be perfect. Many are not.
The taller the receiver and assuming they posses arms with corresponding length, the better chance at reaching balls that are thrown higher or that are a bit off in terms of accuracy. Not saying everyone needs NBA forward size. Even 6'1" or 6'2" works.
I hope this makes sense. It’s pretty logical to me. Scouts and personnel people have told me in the past that it is an important trait.
It was part of the reason why the Redskins drafted the 6'2" Leonard Hankerson. The Redskins let Hankerson go because he was not consistent and because of his injury history. That left them with Pierre Garcon (6’0”), DeSean Jackson (5’10”), Jamison Crowder (5’8”), Andre Roberts (5’11”), Ryan Grant (6’0”) and Rashad Ross (6’0”).
Jackson, who makes up for lack of size with an abundance of speed and open space shiftiness, hasn’t played a down since the Redskins’ second offensive series of the season. That was over a month ago, a notable factor in any Cousins evaluation. Against the Falcons, the QB also didn't have Jordan Reed on the field. The 6'2" tight end, who is recovering from a concussion suffered late in the Week 4 win over Philadelphia, is Cousins' only proven target over six foot tall. He's also not a wide receiver.
The lack of height on the outside makes it really hard to throw jump balls or fade routes in the end zone and compressed space areas like the red zone. The Redskins have scored seven touchdowns in 12 red zone opportunities. Their red zone percentage leaves them at 11th in the NFL, which is fairly good, but it could be a lot better. Of course, by comparison to 2014 standards, it is. Last year, Washington scored 23 touchdowns in 48 red zone opportunities, which was 26th in the NFL.
For those that watched the New York Giants take sole possession of first place in the NFC East on Sunday night, I hope you watched as the 6’6” Larry Donnell reeled in a high pass from Eli Manning in the back of the end zone with every inch and then some of his large frame.
Yes, Donnell is a tight end. Just noting that regardless of what anyone whispers in your ear, size matters.
The simple truth is it very much matters. It’s a crucial failure on the Redskins part, especially when Reed is unavailable. This reality jumped out to me when closely watching the all-22 coaching tape and you really do have to watch it to see the total issue. There are several examples. Here are two that just happen to involve Garcon.
On the Redskins first touchdown drive, Cousins had Garcon open on a skinny post for a would-be touchdown. Cousins fired the pass and it was a bit high and off Garcon’s fingertips for an incompletion. Tough catch, sure, but far from a terrible throw.
In the third quarter, on a 3rd-and-10, Cousins once again fired a pass that went off the fingertips of Garcon. The toss wasn't exact, but it probably could have been caught if out-stretched Garcon had an extra inch.
The New England Patriots have the top passing attack in the league, largely because of Tom Brady. However, Rob Gronkowski (6’4”) and Aaron Dobson (6’3”) at the receiver position helps significantly. It allows them to make up for munchkins Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman.
The San Diego Chargers own the second best passing attack in the league. Note their basketball-sized receiving options with Keenan Allen (6’2”), Malcom Floyd (6’5”), Stevie Johnson (6’2”), Jacoby Jones (6’4”), Dontrelle Inman (6’3”) plus tight ends Antonio Gates (6’4”) and Ladarius Green (6’6”).
By the way, you know that Scot McCloughan fella, a.k.a. the Redskins general manager. He likes size. He likes tall, strong, burly athletes on both sides of the ball. Expect changes.
Again, just so we're all clear, Cousins absolutely has to get better with his accuracy. In addition, for the record, the lack of receiving size is a big (pun intended) problem and it will absolutely be rectified this off-season.