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Michigan State’s Dave Warner: Kirk Cousins Is A Good Fit In Redskins’ Offense

By ZAC BOYER | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – Most of Kirk Cousins’ teammates will take it easy during their lunch hour – the one chance for the Washington Redskins to relax and socialize during the day.


Cousins, though, often spends time studying his playbook, looking over schemes on his team-issued iPad and taking notes on a yellow legal pad.

“That’s Kirk Cousins right there,” said Dave Warner, the quarterbacks coach at Michigan State. “He’s going to take a ton of notes.”

The Redskins chose Cousins in the fourth round of the NFL Draft in April from Michigan State, where he was a three-year starter and spent all five seasons working with Warner.

Cousins did not play as a true freshman, and he was tasked with helping run the scout team while he redshirted. He would do his best to learn the basics of the opponents’ plays, then spend his own time after practice brushing up on the Spartans’ offense.

It’s a similar situation to what Cousins is experiencing now, with Robert Griffin III, also a rookie, entrenched not only as the Redskins’ starter but as their franchise quarterback.

“He sort of double-dipped,” Warner said. “He was a team guy that knew he needed to do a good job on scout team, but he also kept learning. He did a great job of taking notes and learning throughout a season in which he wasn’t really even the next man up.”

Warner saw the highlights of the Redskins’ victory over Baltimore on Sunday, which ended with Cousins running the offense because Griffin sprained his right knee. Cousins threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon and then ran for a two-point conversion with 29 seconds left to tie the score.

Griffin may be unable to play this weekend at Cleveland because of the injury, which could allow Cousins to make his first start. If so, the Redskins would be forced away from the quarterback running game that has allowed Griffin to be so successful.

“As our offense sort of evolved during our time here, he adjusted to it, and really did a good job,” Warner said. “I think he’s got the tools to fit into a lot of offenses and the intelligence to adjust to a lot of offenses, but [running] the option is probably not one of them.”

Cousins joked as much Wednesday, saying his 4.9-second 40-yard dash time is still not as fast as Griffin’s even with a knee injury. But the two-point conversion run, which came on a quarterback draw, was a sign to Warner that Cousins a better fit in the Redskins’ offense than even he may think.

“I think he’s got a strong arm,” Warner said. “I think he’s got a quick release. Those are two things that I think are important. I don’t know that he’s off-the-charts in athleticism, but he’s certainly good in both of those categories.”

And he’ll be ready if he does start, Warner said. Cousins set it as his goal to have the Spartans focused and prepared for Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game last season, and while Michigan State didn’t win, the players’ readiness reflected well on the quarterback’s leadership.

“I’ve never seen a team so focused and so-well prepared, and that was because of his own doing, as it was for that game,” Warner said. “The other quarterbacks that come here, they either have a burning desire to be a great quarterback or they don’t. … If they don’t have that burning desire, they’re not going to be that successful, and he’s certainly one of those guys that has a burning desire and he also has the tools.”

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