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Kirk Cousins on leadership: 'There’s a side of me that people don’t understand'

Kirk Cousins on leadership: 'There’s a side of me that people don’t understand'

Watch practice each day at Redskins Park and Kirk Cousins emerges as a fiery, vocal, even combattive at times, leader and quarterback. Watch Redskins games on Sundays, and rarely does the same version of Cousins appear. 

At times it does, often when cameras are rolling. Few moments encapsulate Cousins' passionate side like his comments to Scot McCloughan after the Redskins convincingly beat the Packers.

Kirk Cousins to Scot McCloughan: 'How you like me now?!'

Kirk Cousins. Feelin' it. #HowYouLikeMeNow

Posted by NBC Sports Washington on Monday, November 21, 2016

Cousins addressed trying to get the 'How do you like me now?' player into every game, and from the opening kick, in an interview with ESPN980's Inside the Locker Room (listen here).

I need to be more of that guy. I think from the day I entered the league, I’ve tried to be a little more buttoned down, a little more careful to not stick my foot in my mouth, and I think I need to let myself come out. The guy that the teammates see at practice and at OTAs, the guy that the teammates see in the locker room, from behind closed doors. I think people need to see that, like you said, from the kickoff. As I get a little more experienced in this league, I think it will come naturally, but I think I need to make a more concerted effort to make that happen. I think if I do, I think it will help.

Obviously the biggest question facing Cousins this offseason remains his contract status. Set for free agency at the end of the month, Cousins can stay with the Redskins by signing a new long-term deal or again playing under the franchise tag, like he did in 2016. It seems highly unlikely Cousins actually hits free agency, and team officials sound somewhat optimistic of a new multi-year deal for their quarterback.

In an honest moment, Cousins said he believes he can be a better leader with a multi-year contract.

That is the benefit to the long-term deal. It’s okay, I’m the guy. I’ve got full freedom to lead, full freedom to just be the guy, to make this mine, and to get that permission, if you will. That’s where I think the leash comes off and you’re able to fully go, and I’m excited for that day to come, whether it comes this year or down the road. I can’t wait.

The tune hasn't changed from Cousins about the franchise tag.

He said that if the organization chooses to franchise him, again, he views it as being wanted. Since being named the starting QB in 2015, Cousins has repeatedly said he feels that each week he is proving himself, and that feeling hasn't changed. In fact, he said even if he got a long-term contract, he would still feel like it's a year to year situation. 

ESPN980 broadcasters Brian Mitchell and Doc Walker did a nice job with the interview, prodding Cousins about leadership in a way that befits former players. Perhaps the most interesting comment from the quarterback came about how he can improve. Cousins thought back to a November win over the Vikings.

In that game, Cousins sprinted downfield after an official when he thought a pass interference call should have been made. The scene wasn't a surprise to many who had seen similar histrionics from Cousins on the practice fields in Ashburn, but for thousands of fans, it was a big surprise.

There’s a side of me that people don’t understand. I remember in the Vikings game, when I reacted to what I thought was a pass interference and was all emotional about it I got a lot of questions after, 'Why so much emotion?' I thought to myself, well, that’s who I am. That’s how I would normally react. I think what I’ve shown for years now really isn’t me, partly because there’s so much on my mind and so much I’m trying to do that I try not to get distracted by anything. But when I’m rolling and I’m feeling good, that’s the Kirk that comes out.

Redskins fans would like to see a lot more of the 'rolling and feeling good' Kirk. In the two games against the Vikings and Packers, both emotional showings from Cousins, the 'Skins went 2-0. The QB passed for more than 600 yards and five touchdowns with an average QB rating of 128.35. 

Cousins believes a long-term deal will help him be more comfortable, and it's fairly obvious job security helps any employee. Granted it's a small sample, but the numbers seem to back up Cousins' assertion.

Perhaps Redskins brass should take notice. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201