Efficient Kirk Cousins executed Redskins game plan perfectly

Kirk Cousins completed 20 of 25 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns against the Saints. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

ASHBURN, Va. -- Nothing changed after re-watching Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins' game: It wasn't fancy; it was smart and effective. The mantra of finding the playmakers and getting them the ball was clearly at work Sunday. Cousins wasn't asked to make a whole lot of difficult throws -- there were some -- but he was asked to execute well. For a third consecutive game, that's what he did.

Which is all the Redskins want from the quarterback. I know his average air yards per attempt was only 3.32 -- the lowest in his career. But that's what the game dictated; yes, there were a couple missed chances but for the most part the smart play was hitting check downs or receivers on underneath routes. And the screens were set up well.

It was a fantastic day of execution by the entire offense, including Cousins. This game was won by scheme and contributions all over the place. Yes, once more, New Orleans' defense stinks (eight quarterbacks have posted at least a 102.0 rating vs. them) but absolutely give Cousins credit for operating efficiently and making smart decisions. And, yes, he has more to prove and throwing short won't win every week -- but it worked Sunday.

Here's a look at his day:

Throw I liked: The pass to DeSean Jackson was perfect; hitting him in stride for 42 yards. Liked the route, too, as Jackson started as the middle of three receivers on the left side and as the outside target run inside, Jackson released wide and turned it up.

Also liked: How Cousins consistently enabled his receivers to run after the catch with his throws. That has not happened all the time this season.

The scheme: New Orleans was going to drop its linebackers deep enough to prevent big plays downfield, but also played man coverage. If the pass rush didn't get free, then there were potentially bad matchups. Cousins took advantage of these, as he did by hitting Chris Thompson against the linebacker; the Redskins cleared out the side he ran to and it was easy pickings. Cousins hit him in stride. The Saints consistently put their defenders in bad position to make one-on-one plays in the open field (or, conversely, the Redskins did a good job creating them). So the check-downs became smart passes because they kept working. Nothing difficult here. For example, on one underneath pass to Jamison Crowder, a linebacker in his area was 5 yards behind him when he caught the ball. So Crowder turned and gained 7 more yards (for a total of 11). If you see Crowder in that spot, you hit him.

Throw I didn't like: Not sure about the one to Crowder that was nearly intercepted in the first half. Based on when Cousins unloaded the pass -- before Crowder broke -- I wonder if he expected the route to be flattened out instead of drifting as Crowder did. I don't know the answer to that one yet, so I'll abstain from blaming anyone. Just wondering now. But I did not like the decision to throw to Tom Compton on a hard pass back toward the middle. I know why Cousins did so: his primary target, Jordan Reed, was held. But it was still a bad decision negated by a penalty.

Missed opportunities: There were one or two times that Cousins could have been a little more patient on a play. Sometimes I wonder if he felt pressure that wasn't there -- on one red zone play, Reed was going to be open between the safeties. But the Saints blitzed (Chris Thompson picked it up) and that perhaps caused Cousins to work off Reed too soon, leading to a throwaway to Jackson on the left side. Another time, Cousins looked off Jackson too soon vs. a four-man rush and instead dumped over the middle to Alfred Morris. Jackson was turning open and just a little more patience would have resulted in a better gain. Of course, Cousins hit Reed on a bootleg pass for a touchdown on the next play.

Smart throwaways: Cousins did a good job protecting the ball in the red zone. I didn't mind the first sack in the red zone; it was a third-down play and coaches want Cousins to extend plays rather than check down for small gains in this situation. The sack didn't hurt at all. Later, under duress in the red zone, he threw out of bounds -- it looked as if he thought Reed would cut outside. But after re-watching the play, there's no reason to think that: the linebacker had outside leverage and Reed's move was inside. Had Cousins forced the ball to him, a safety was there so the smart play was to throw it away. He did. On another sack, Cousins had Crowder open on the right but also a defender in his lane; however, Rashad Ross was open on the other side when Cousins worked back that way.