ASHBURN — Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins’ season is off to a rocky start.
While Cousins is unable to pinpoint exactly what the issue is, he doesn’t believe that it is related to the fact that he is playing on the franchise tag, which amounts to a one-year contract.
“I don't think it weighs on me as much as it may seem,” he said during a news conference at Redskins Park.
“I've said this a lot and I feel like a broken record, I'm always on a one-year deal, I'm on a one-game deal. I've got to prove it over and over and over. If I had been on a contract that is lasting many more years I would still feel like if I don't play well this year they're going to look for someone else. That doesn't really have a whole lot to do with any type of desire or expectation to play well.”
Cousins is right; most multiyear NFL contracts are really a series of one-year contracts.
The team can end the deal at any time, although the amount of guaranteed money due to the player may make them hesitant to do so. Regardless, a player’s performance has to remain at a level that justifies his pay grade or he will soon find himself looking for a job. That pressure is on nearly every NFL player.
Cousins pointed out that even if there is pressure on him he has demonstrated in the past that he can play well in spite of it.
He recalled the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Philadelphia last year with the division title on the line. Cousins completed 31 of 46 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns as the Redskins won 38-24.
“I think that if you were to say, Kirk, against the Eagles with the division title on the line on to road were you at all stressed I'd say ‘yeah’,” he said. “My heart's racing in that game, I mean, I took a knee right before halftime. You think I was feeling happy-go-lucky going into the locker room at halftime on the road having taken a knee to cost my team three points or a possible touchdown? No. I mean, the point is you've got to play well through whatever's going on. When you don't, obviously, the initial reaction is it must be something. But I think a lot of those same things were present when I played at a high level, too.”
He was referring to a play just before halftime where he took a knee, allowing the clock to run out, rather than spiking the ball to allow another play or to allow the field goal team to come in. It was a moment of confusion that certainly would have been much more of a topic of discussion had the Redskins lost.
It’s business as usual. “There’s going to be pressure, there’s going to be expectations, there’s going to be failures, I’m going to throw picks,” he said. “The key is going to be, can I continue to just keep grinding and keep pushing and that’s really all I know to do and all I’m going to do and we’ll just let the chips fall where they may.”
The Redskins hope the chips start falling in the right places soon.