After the Redskins fell to 2-4 after a loss to the Jets, Jay Gruden decided that quarterback Kirk Cousins needed to see something. Cousins told Grant and Danny on 106.7 The Fan that after that loss, in which Cousins threw two interceptions, Gruden sat him down and put some film of Tom Brady against the Colts on the screen.
“I remember before the Tampa game, after the Jets game, Jay and I sat down and we went through Tom Brady and his game against the Colts that previous weekend, and Jay’s point was what Tom was doing to be as good as he was, it wasn’t anything spectacular or anything that I couldn’t do, but at the same time, it was incredibly polished, incredibly disciplined and having great command,” said Cousins.
Brady was not spectacular in that Week 6 game in Lucas Oil Stadium, at least not by his standards. He completed 23 of 37 passes for 312 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Seven different receivers caught passes. The Patriots trailed 21-20 at halftime but Brady led two touchdown drives in the second half, going 7 for 7 on the two drives for 89 yards and the two TDs. He let the New England defense do the rest of the work as they shut down the Colts in the second half, holding them to one late, meaningless score.
Perhaps it’s coincidence and perhaps it’s not but Cousins’ play improved dramatically after his session with Brady and Gruden. In the first six games Cousins completed 66.2 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and eight interceptions and a passer rating of 77.9. From the seventh game one his completion percentage is 72.8 with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions and a passer rating of 115.0. Most importantly, the Redskins are 5-3 since then.
For his part, Gruden did not blow his own horn when asked about what Cousins had said on the radio.
“I think just him playing and him getting all these reps and just playing better,” said Gruden. “I just showed him the success of another quarterback and how he is managing the game and he’s not doing everything himself. He is letting his players do the work for him — lot of quick game, lot of balls getting out of his hands and just managing the football game. But, you know, I think it’s mainly on Kirk.”
The numbers say that something happened between Week 6, that miserable loss to the Jets, and Week 7, when Cousins led a record comeback, coming from 24 points down to beat the Bucs. That comeback sparked the “You like that!” viral video and Cousins’ stock has been rising ever since. Whether it was going to school on Brady or the lessons he had learned from all of the snaps he took during the rocky first six weeks, we’ll never know.