The Redskins called a read option on Sunday for a quarterback that they drafted in 2012, and the play worked perfectly.
The catch? It was Kirk Cousins running it, not Robert Griffin III.
With less than four minutes remaining and the Redskins clinging to a three-point lead vs. the 49ers, Jay Gruden chose to go with the unconventional run on San Francisco’s 7-yard line. It unfolded flawlessly, as No. 8 was able to scamper into the end zone untouched.
After Washington's 26-24 victory, Cousins mentioned how Griffin, as well as Niners coach Kyle Shanahan, were key in teaching him about the useful play back when all three were in D.C. together in 2012 and 2013.
“I would credit going back to my rookie year with Robert here, we did it a lot,” Cousins said in his press conference. “Kyle told me when he left, he said, ‘I’ve learned after working with Robert that this is a really valuable play no matter who the quarterback is and I’ll always carry it with me.’ So, when Jay arrived we kept it and valued it.”
Gruden may not value it as much as his beloved fade, but he and his signal caller are clearly very comfortable with it. They’ve tried it multiple times from inside the 10 this year, and will also sprinkle it in when they need to convert a third down in the middle of the field, like they did in Week 4 in Kansas City.
The head coach likes how the read option gives the offense an advantage over the defense. He also likes Cousins’ ability to execute it.
“[It] allows you to block one less guy,” he said. “You read him. Obviously Kirk is not exactly the read option quarterback that you would be looking for if you were looking for a read option quarterback, but he’s very effective at it.”
Cousins isn’t going to win many footraces and when the defense doesn’t bite on the fake, he has major trouble making defenders miss. Therefore, the Redskins have to carefully pick their spots with the read option, which is something Cousins said himself.
But Sunday was just the latest example of how well it can go when it’s used in the right situation. While the read option with Cousins may not be the most beautiful read option, often times time for the Redskins, the results are.