Here is what you need to know on this Friday, August 26, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Baltimore Ravens.
Has Cousins shaken his interception problems?
A year ago in training camp, many analysts who caught just a glimpse of practice left believing that Kirk Cousins was the superior quarterback in camp, better than starter Robert Griffin III. Cousins was dropping back and getting rid of the ball in rhythm while Griffin was hesitating, pumping, and generally looking very unsure of himself.
What those who were in Richmond covering the team on a daily basis knew, however, was that Cousins was fool’s gold to an extent. He would throw very confidently but all too frequently into the arms of a defensive back or linebacker. Griffin did not look nearly as smooth but he was much better at protecting the ball.
When Cousins got his chance to play after Griffin was injured early in Week 2, the interception bug came back to bite him. In six games and 204 pass attempts he threw nine interceptions. His interception rate of 4.4 percent was almost two percentage points worse than the league average of 2.5 percent, although there should be a small sample size warning here.
Other than the interceptions, Cousins played pretty well. He completed 61.8 percent of his passes (just below the league average of 62.6 percent) for an impressive 8.4 yards per attempt (the league average was 7.2).
His inability to protect the ball, however, landed him permanently on the bench at halftime of his fifth start. He didn’t get into another game the rest of the year.
Fast forward through eight months of offseason work on his own, under Jay Gruden’s brother Jon, and in OTAs, minicamp, and training camp. How has he done in correcting his biggest flaw?
“He hasn’t thrown many [interceptions] this camp,” said Gruden. “He’s improved on the turnover issue very much so through OTAs and training camp and preseason games. We’re impressed with the progress that Kirk has made very much. He’s done a great job.”
Most observing practice would concur with Gruden’s assessment, although it should be noted that he was working mostly against second- and third-team defenders and playing with backup players on offense. Of course, he was in the same situation last year and threw many more interceptions.
Cousins has yet to throw an interception in 26 preseason attempts this year. But let's add the preseason warning to the sample size warning.
Cousins and Colt McCoy are battling it out to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Griffin. That is more important that most backup QB competitions around the league given that Griffin is prone to injury and that there is a very real possibility that he will be benched at some point during the season.
If Cousins had indeed improved at ball protection could he be an option for the Redskins for the long term or at least as a bridge until a franchise quarterback can be found? Perhaps, but we will need to see him passing the test against first team defenders in full speed games.
Should he beat out McCoy for the backup job we could get that chance.
—Today’s schedule: Walkthrough at Andrews Air Force Base 1 p.m.; players available after
—It’s been 242 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 17 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.
—Days until: Preseason Redskins @ Ravens 2; final cuts 9; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 28
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- Cooley refuses to abandon comeback bid
- Griffin's goal: Lead starters to a touchdown Saturday night
- RG3 on Lions game: 'We just had a bad outing'
- Redskins' Williams not worried about contract situation
- Redskins' Kerrigan's status vs. Ravens is 'trainer's decision'
- Who makes the call on RG3?