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.