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It's getting tough for Redskins QB Cousins to meet high expectations

It's getting tough for Redskins QB Cousins to meet high expectations

It’s clear the expectations for Kirk Cousins are getting higher.

On Sunday it wasn’t enough that the Redskins quarterback completed 10 of his first 11 passes and capped the team’s first two possessions with touchdown passes to Jordan Reed.

And the 91-yard drive that ended up being the fifth fourth-quarter comeback win of his career didn’t seem to generate a lot of buzz.

RELATED: WHAT WE LEARNED FROM REDSKINS 31, BROWNS 20

Instead, the focus seemed to be more on the second and third quarters, when Cousins and the offense went into hibernation and were outscored 20-3 by the Browns. The stretch started with a head-scratching interception that Cousins threw in the second quarter on the first play of the Redskins’ third possession.

“The defense back made a very good play, he’s a zoning defender in that curl flat area and he sunk off and made the play,” said Cousins when asked about the play. “If you go back and see the film you can see as a result, that Matt Jones as a result of him sinking, Matt Jones was open in the flat and so that’s in hindsight where the ball would have been able to go and probably get a productive gain and so that slipped out and I’ll take from that.”

That’s kind of a complex explanation for what appeared to be a late, forced throw when nobody was open.

In any case, the pick was returned to the Washington 12 and the Browns had a very short field to the tying touchdown.

Starting with the interception and going until the Redskins recovered a Browns fumble with just over a minute left in the third quarter the offense was not very productive. Cousins completed six of nine passes for 40 yards with no touchdowns and the one interception. That’s a passer rating of 36.6.

To be sure, the Redskins defense didn’t help much, allowing the Browns, led by a rookie quarterback, to possess the ball for 19:36 of the second and third quarters.

But Cousins and the Redskins weren’t taking advantage of the possessions they had, managing only a field goal drive in the latter stages of the second quarter.

This isn’t to say that Cousins had a bad game. His competed 77.7 percent of his passes and his pass rating was a very respectable 116.5. But his 183 yards passing was his lowest total in a game since he became the Redskins’ starter at the beginning of last season. There is the feeling that a true franchise quarterback would continue to pour it on against a team like the Browns.

Jay Gruden is often Cousins’ biggest fan, especially after wins, but his evaluation of his quarterback was lukewarm.

“I think he played OK. There’s a couple of situational-type things that we can’t do,” said Gruden. “We’ll coach him up. The more he plays, the more he’s going to do. The sack when we had the ball after the big run from Matt Jones, you’ve got to throw that away or can’t take a sack there. I think the interception, he’s just got to see coverage there and do a better job. But, he’s far from perfect.”

Cousins will have his “OK” but “far from perfect” games. As long as the Redskins win all will be well, but fans and media will attach style points to the QB's performance. 

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM THE REDSKINS' WEEK 4 WIN

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As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

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USA TODAY Sports

As money skyrockets, don't expect Kirk Cousins to give discounts on open market

Kirk Cousins repeatedly said his free agent decision will not be just about money. Be clear, however, that money will be a huge factor in this decision. 

After the Redskins traded with Kansas City to acquire Alex Smith before the Super Bowl, it became obvious Washington will move on from Cousins. Whether that means the quarterback simply walks away in free agency or the organization attempts a highly risky tag-and-trade scenario, regardless, Cousins will throw footballs for another franchise in 2018.

Cousins wants to choose where he will play via free agency, and might even file a grievance if the Redskins do deploy a third franchise tag to control his rights.

Assuming Cousins hits free agency, a new report out of New York suggests the Jets will pay "whatever it takes" to land the passer. That could even include a fully guaranteed contract, and will certainly get close to a $30 million a year price tag. 

A notion exists too that Cousins might take less to go to a winner, and many think that could be the Broncos. Denver won five games in 2017, same as the Jets, though the Broncos have a strong defense and have been getting particularly awful QB play. 

The important thing to remember for curious Redskins fans watching the Cousins saga unfold: Don't expect much, if any, discount. 

The quarterback himself made that clear. 

"There’s other quarterbacks that come after you and it would be almost a selfish move to hurt future quarterbacks who get in a position to have a contract," Cousins said last year on 106.7 the Fan.

The quotes came after the 2016 season but before the Redskins again used a franchise tag with Cousins for the 2017 season. Washington wanted to attempt a long-term deal with Cousins at that point, though the quarterback decided to not negotiate and instead play on the tag.

The point remains that Cousins, and his representatives, believe the quarterback has a duty to other players to maximize his earnings. 

"If you don’t take a deal that’s fair to you, then you’re also taking a deal that’s not fair to them and you’re setting them back as well. So there’s different reasons. You just do the best you can."

If he hits free agency, Cousins will likely sign the richest contract in NFL history. Those opportunities don't come around often, and the quarterback should take full advantage. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

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Need to Know: Could Ty Nsekhe be the Redskins' answer at left guard?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 19, 23 days before NFL free agency starts.

Monday musings

—One possible solution to the left guard spot is perhaps being overlooked. Ty Nsekhe played there some last year, starting the game in Dallas and playing there until Morgan Moses got injured, forcing him to move to right tackle. Nsekhe is slated to be a restricted free agent but his return is likely. In December I asked Jay Gruden if Nsekhe might move to guard in 2018. “I think Ty is a big man and a very good tackle, but in the offseason when we have more time, maybe we can feature him at some guard when we’ve got all our guys back,” he said. “Feature him some” doesn’t mean that they will make him a starter; perhaps they want him to be the top option to fill in at four of the five OL positions. But it’s something to keep an eye on if they don’t land a left guard solution in free agency or the draft.

—When I posted about Albert Breer’s report that Kirk Cousins would file a grievance if the Redskins put the franchise tag on him in an effort to trade him, I pulled up a copy of the CBA to see the language on which Cousins could base his case. I read through the Article 10, which deals with the franchise tag twice and I saw nothing of it. But Mike Florio found it in Article 4, the one that deals with player contracts. “A Club extending a Required Tender must, for so long as that Tender is extended, have a good faith intention to employ the player receiving the Tender at the Tender compensation level during the upcoming season.” Since the Redskins clearly have no intention of employing Cousins after the Alex Smith trade, this seems to be a fairly simple case. In reality, it never is.

—I tweeted this last week:

However, possible cap casualties from other teams are not included in that group. That won’t turn the pool of players who will become available to sign into a bunch of potential franchise changers. Still, there could be a number of players in whom the Redskins could be interested in like RB DeMarco Murray, WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Torrey Smith, edge rusher Elvis Dumervil, and DL Brandon Mebane. A plus to signing players who have been waived is that they don’t count in the formula that determines compensatory draft picks. The Redskins have never really paid attention to that in the past but with potential high comp picks at stake if they lose both Kirk Cousins and Bashaud Breeland, this could be a good year to start.

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 10
—NFL Draft (4/26) 66
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 202

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