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Offensive coordinator Zac Robinson leaning on shared history with QB Kirk Cousins

Zac Robinson also answers the question: What traits does Kirk Cousins display in the film room?

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — During his media availability last week, quarterback Kirk Cousins made the comment that his favorite part of every day is watching film with his fellow offensive players. So, when offensive coordinator Zac Robinson held his own media availability this past Wednesday, the question posed to him was simple: What traits does Cousins display in the film room?

For starters, Robinson said, Cousins is very cerebral. Cousins' memory is something that sets him apart.

"He can recall things from when he had Klint Kubiak as his offensive coordinator," Robinson said. "Then, obviously, recently with (Kevin) O'Connell. He can kind of take some of those things that he's had with Kevin the last couple years and apply it to what we're doing here. There's still some new stuff, so he's still learning a few new things, but you see right away how well he sees defenses."

The mention of Cousins' former offensive play-callers is important for someone like Robinson, a first-time offensive play-caller himself. O'Connell comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree. So, too, does Robinson. Oh, yeah, Cousins does as well, seeing as McVay was Cousins' offensive coordinator with the then-Washington Redskins from 2014-16.

Let's take a step further back in time, though. Cousins also has roots in the soil McVay was planted in: Mike Shanahan. The father of current 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, Mike was Cousins' first head coach in the league. Kyle, his first offensive coordinator.

Kyle Shanahan and McVay's shared offensive philosophies began when both coaches worked under Jon Gruden in the early days of their careers. It has been well-documented that Cousins took a trip down to Tampa, Florida, with a group of Falcons offensive weapons to watch film with Gruden this offseason.

Furthermore, the Falcons picked up two key tight ends in free agency, both of whom have a shared history with Shanahan, too. That's right: Charlie Woerner and Ross Dwelley come from — you guessed it — San Francisco.

The branches of this large tree intertwine over and over again in the meeting rooms of Flowery Branch. So, even though the McVay's and Shanahan's schemes have diverged in recent years, the roots remain sturdy.

These roots matter in the midst of offseason install, because the Falcons now have access to them with Cousins and Robinson at the helm.


The Falcons won't be a carbon copy of the Los Angeles Rams, just like the Minnesota Vikings weren't when O'Connell took over. Robinson is quite fond of what has been previously done in the run game in Atlanta. O'Connell had his own spin on things with Minnesota's offense, too. However, remnants of the Rams' strategy can be seen in the Vikings' plan of attack. Same can — and likely will — be true for a Robinson-led Falcons offense.

This development and merging of scheme has allowed a level of comfort to be established quickly with QB1 and, in turn, the play-caller.

"This is my first time doing (this)," Robinson said. "So having the comfort of a veteran quarterback like Kirk that's coming from this type of system, (I) couldn't ask for anything better."

Cousins, for what it's worth, may feel similarly when the play call comes in through his helmet.

"I had concerns that maybe I would be starting over," Cousins said of joining up with Robinson in Atlanta, "but I can spit that play out. No problem. I know that read. Been there, done that."

Of course, there are always new wrinkles and terminology to get more comfortable with, but for all intent and purposes, Robinson and Cousins are confident about where they are. One could point back to their shared history as a catalyst of that comfort.

It's a history that didn't see these two individuals cross paths before 2024, but it's one that has connected the play-caller and quarterback nonetheless.

"I think Zac has a great football mind," Cousins said. "I think he's a hard worker, and I think he's got a great way about him. The guys respond to him. We're checking a lot of boxes from that standpoint. It's about us. As players, we keep saying the same thing that we've got to put the work in to build that shared history so that we can play in such a way this fall that it looks like we've been together for five years."

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