Jay Gruden's 'system' fueled the Redskins' rise and ranks among NFL's best

If we're spending time on the concept of Kirk Cousins as a system QB, then perhaps it's time to praise the system he shined in.

All the recent chatter about whether it's fair to consider Kirk Cousins a "system" quarterback and if that even matters if the production exists overlooks a key point.

That system installed by head coach Jay Gruden is baller.

"I think Gruden's system is as good as just about any I've seen," SI.com NFL analyst Andy Benoit told BreakingBurgundy.com.

Even with the last-minute quarterback switch before the season kicked off, the slow start offensively, running game woes and offensive line injuries, the numbers were there in the end along with an NFC East title for the Washington Redskins.

Cousins rewrote the franchise record book including most passing yards in a single-season while leading the NFL in completion percentage. Jordan Reed also forced the record keepers to update Washington's tight end's single-season hierarchy. 

The Redskins finished 10th in scoring with 24.2 points per game. With the division title in the balance, Washington closed the regular season with four straight wins, scoring 24, 35, 38 and 34 points respectively. 

Of course scoring tons of points are what it's all about and yet points alone don't make the analyst community swoon. Showing mastery and innovation with play design sends the heart fluttering. 

"I think he's one of the 10 best offensive designers and callers in the league," Benoit said of Gruden, who served as offensive coordinator in Cincinnati before becoming Washington's head coach in 2014. "Keep in mind Sean McVay calls the plays their now as the offensive coordinator, but McVay is really an extension of Jay Gruden."

Another key stat in the Redskins' favor last year: Washington ranked fifth in the NFL by converting 44 percent of its third down chances. That's not just about dialing up the right play at the right time. That's also about setting up the opponent over the course of a game for that play you want when you want it.

"I think the coaching staff has a really good feel for exploiting specific weaknesses of a defense and building offense throughout the game, meaning they call one play to set up another play," Benoit said. "It's a really well put together offense."

That offense last year made due without deep threat DeSean Jackson for much of the first half of the season due to a hamstring injury. Left guard Shawn Lauvao was lost for the season with a Week 3 ankle injury and the replacements didn't find their footing until late in the campaign. Injures also kept center Kory Lichtensteiger out of the lineup for a chunk of the season. The Redskins were bottom five in the NFL with a 3.7 yards per rush attempt.


The play of Cousins -- 23 touchdowns and three interceptions over the final 10 games -- helped offset those issues. Having a strong group of receiving targets in Reed, Jackson, tough guy Pierre Garcon and slot threat Jamison Crowder certainly helped. The Redskins added first round pick and high-jumping Josh Doctson to the mix.

"I know they have a lot to like with Jordan Reed. Those other receivers are uniquely gifted in different ways," Benoit noted. "They complement each other extremely well. It ought to be a well designed passing game again because they've got unique pieces for it."

They also apparently have one of the best offensive systems in the NFL.

Ben Standig is the Publisher of Breaking Burgundy and the Huddle Report's 2012 NFL Mock Draft champion. You can find him on Twitter @benstandig and on Google+.

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