Redskins

Quick Links

Cousins appreciates his next, and possibly last, big chance

Cousins appreciates his next, and possibly last, big chance

This Sunday, for the first time since 2011, Kirk Cousins will take the first snap of his team’s season. The game four years ago was in East Lansing, Michigan and Michigan State’s opponent was Youngstown State. This Sunday has the bigger spotlight of the NFL as the Miami Dolphins come to FedEx Field.

Many players in Cousins’ situation would tell you that this Sunday is just another game, another opportunity. But Cousins isn’t afraid to admit how important starting the season opener again is to him.

“That’s certainly a focus for me is being able to understand yes, it’s a big game, yes, it’s important, but I’m the kind of guy who is going to acknowledge that,” said Cousins. “It’s my job to almost stay relaxed and enjoy the process and enjoy the moment, have fun and put a smile on my face. I think that’s certainly a point of emphasis for me this week. Like you said, haven’t been in this position in a few years so it’s a cool opportunity though. Last time I did it, in 2011, the season went alright. It was a good year. Hopefully, we can have the same thing this year.”

The 2011 Spartans went 11-3, losing the Big Ten championship game to Wisconsin. If the Redskins post double digit wins and lose a playoff game the season would certainly be considered “a good year”.

Perhaps more relevant to Cousins immediate situation is that this is his first start since October 19 of last year. In the first half against Tennessee that day he lost a fumble and threw an interception, helping the Titans go into the locker room with a 10-6 lead. Colt McCoy took over in the third quarter, led the team to a comeback win, and Cousins didn’t take a snap again the rest of the year. It gave him time for some thought and for some regret.

“I think, like I said, anytime you have a job to do and you feel like you didn’t get the job done, it’s going to eat at you if you care about it,” he said. For me I deeply care about it and so it was eating at me. It was important then to say, ‘Alright, what do I do now? What do I do about it now?’ Obviously I couldn’t go right back on the field and try to fix it. But that may have been a good thing to just be able to go back and learn from it and slowly try to grow and build off of it.”

He was the inactive third quarterback for much of the rest of the season so he did not need to spend time going into the coming week’s opponent in great detail. Cousins spent time looking at film of successful quarterbacks and of himself.

“I felt like, I’ll go back and just study my own game and try to improve my own perspective,” he said. “You’re always looking at how can I get better, with the circumstances around me and the situation I am in. What can I do to get better and deliberately practice, whatever that is.”

Quarterbacks don’t often get another chance if they are buried on the bench like Cousins was last year.

We will see how much Cousins’ self-study pays off starting with his next, and perhaps last, big opportunity on Sunday.

Quick Links

Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

usatsi_10433253_141983962_lowres.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ ugly 20-10 win vs. the Giants.

A Win is a Win:
If you are worried about style points you are doing it wrong. This was a banged up team on a short week playing for its life. Perhaps a better start would have made for a more comfortable win but they got done what they needed to do.

Jamison Crowder is on a Roll
:
He gained a career-high 141 yards on seven receptions. The yardage broke his career high of 123 that he set in Week 8. The third-year receiver got off to very slow start, not posting over 52 yards in any game.

But he has broken out of his slump in a big way and Kirk Cousins is very glad to see it.

Perine is Ready:
The rookie was elevated into the starting role after Rob Kelley went onto injured reserve two weeks ago. His importance elevated when Chris Thompson went out for the year with a broken leg.

Fortunately for the Redskins, his play has elevated since becoming the starter. He rushed for 117 yards against the Saints on Sunday. Thursday, four days later, he couldn’t get anything going in the first half, gaining only three yards on seven carries. But he got rolling in the second half and finished with 100 yards on 24 carries.

The Redskins may well have lost this game if Perine, the only back who was on the roster as of three weeks ago, had not gotten himself on track.

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

Defense Got Help: 
Eli Manning passed for 113 yards. Only six times in his career, which spans 211 games, has he thrown for fewer yards. There are three entities mainly responsible for Eli’s woes. The Redskins defense did a good job of putting pressure on him and for the most part the back seven played well in coverage. But Eli himself contributed to his own production problems.

On many occasions he had time to throw and a receiver open but he either sailed the ball well over the receiver’s head or threw it in the ground. Finally, when Manning did have time and delivered the ball on the money, his receivers frequently were unable to find the handle; there were several costly drops.

RELATED: BIGGEST UP'S AND DOWN'S FROM REDSKINS-GIANTS

There is Hope:
It’s too early in the weekend to go into much detail about the Redskins chances of making the playoffs but the losses earlier in the day by the Lions and Cowboys certainly helped.

It’s still a tough path to navigate.

But they did what they needed to do today in winning one of six games that looked winnable earlier this week. All they can do is try to get a winning streak together and they did all they could do in that regard on Thanksgiving.

Now it’s on to Dallas to see if they can take the next step.

MORE: THIS ONE THROW SHOWS HOW COUSINS IS EVOLVING

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Quick Links

Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

usatsi_10433328_141983962_lowres.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

LANDOVER — At times during the Redskins' 20-10 Thanksgiving night victory over the Giants, Kirk Cousins and Washington's offense performed at a level somewhere between sloppy nausea-inducing.

There was that awful sequence where the offense botched a fourth-and-1 more than they normally do.

There was also No. 8's slightly off-target throw to a running back he barely knows that ended up as six points for New York. And there were plenty less notable, but still gross, plays before and after those.

But Cousins' first touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder was far from gross. It was beautiful. It was creative.

And it showed how the 29-year-old is still developing as a quarterback:

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

"The touchdown he had to Crowder was one of his best touchdown passes that I've seen since I've been here," Jay Gruden said about it afterward.

He's right.

By now, you know the boxes that Cousins checks off as a passer. He has the requisite arm strength. He's usually able to move an offense, even one like the Redskins' 2017 version that includes a ton of spare parts, up and down the field. He has the work ethic and leadership skills. 

But a common knock against him is that he can't extend a play and find a receiver when things aren't there during his initial dropback. And that weakness becomes a glaring one in the red zone.

Yet on Thanksgiving night, there Cousins was, avoiding an edge rusher, stepping up, rolling right and then nailing Crowder right on the numbers for a crucial TD. Like his head coach, Cousins was proud of how that score unfolded.

"I felt some pressure so I just tried to escape up and to the right and kept my eyes down field," he said. "I think just the longer I play, I'll get a better feel for how to move and escape."

MORE: ALL OF THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE THANKSGIVING WIN

Cousins' final stats don't stack up to some of his past performances, such as his Week 11 effort in New Orleans where he shined or his pretty perfect evening vs. the Raiders in Week 3. Regardless, this one was encouraging in its own way, because it provided another grlimpse at how the signal caller is becoming more comfortable when things around him become uncomfortable.

Like most of his fellow starters in the league, Cousins has flaws. But the more he plays, the more those flaws diminish. Gruden sees it, he sees it, and you should see it, too.