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.
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.