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Morning Manny: Did The Steelers Present The Blueprint On How To Defend Kirk Cousins?

The Redskins offense rarely found a rhythm over the final three quarters in Week 1. How the Steelers defended Kirk Cousins played a big factor.

Manny Benton often tweets random thoughts regarding the Washington Redskins at random times of the day that typically bring interesting dialog. Now from Monday through Thursday at around 9 a.m., you can find those Twitter-sized thoughts in "Morning Manny." Complete with explanations! 

Did the Pittsburgh Steelers provide the blueprint on how to defend QB Kirk Cousins Monday Night?

Defenses finally had a season length of film to study on Redskins' QB Kirk Cousins this offseason. I think many people, including myself, were interested in seeing what adjustment defenses could make and I think we received a taste Monday night. The Steelers played a ton of zone against Washington. Even head coach Jay Gruden noted that it was unusual.

"I don’t think they played one snap of man, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen," Gruden said in his Tuesday conference call. "They played a ton of zone. They dropped eight guys quite a few times."

I think the popular opinion last season was that if you blitz Cousins, you'll force him off his spot which could make him uncomfortable. Sometimes that was true, but most times it wasn't. Cousins had success against the blitz, especially in the second half of the 2015 season. So against the Steelers, I think they came up with a different plan that could become a trend. Pittsburgh decided to not pressure Cousins, instead putting an emphasis on pass coverage.

What they essentially did was force Cousins to extend plays and to find the soft holes in those zones. Unfortunately, Cousins was unable to do that Monday night. The Steelers may have actually found a way to force Cousins off his spot without actually sending bodies at him by blitzing. It's an interesting tactic that worked.

"They spot-dropped and read the quarterback’s eyes," Gruden said. "Our line gave us ample time to throw and we forced a couple balls and we missed a couple of throws we’d normally hit."

Of course, defenses can do this because they don't fear Washington's run game. However, they also know that Cousins is a rhythm passer who has not consistently shown he can create off-script plays.This could be one of the reasons why the Redskins have been skeptical to sign Cousins long-term. They need to see that he can step up and shoulder an offense. 

It's just one week and Cousins will see better days. But it's important for him to step up and prove he can play at a formidable level against good teams. Although, not every defensive coordinator is disciplined enough to hold off from sending heat at the quarterback. Either way, I do think this will be a trend. Cousins will have to prove that he can extend plays with his feet and create something out of nothing. 

You can find Emmanual on Twitter @manny_benton.

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