Despite ragged individual performances the past two games and his Redskins struggling to stay relevant, Kirk Cousins insisted on Wednesday that he’s not feeling any additional pressure this week.
“There’s always pressure to play well,” Cousins said after practice at Redskins Park. “When you play in the NFL as a quarterback in a place like Washington, D.C., there is going to be that pressure.”
“But,” he added, “it’s also important to apply pressure [and] not feel it. I think when you allow yourself to feel that pressure it can create the wrong outcome.”
Coach Jay Gruden has said that he’s sticking with Cousins as his starter, despite the fourth-year quarterback’s recent struggles. Through six games, Cousins has thrown six touchdown passes and eight interceptions, including a pair of costly picks the past two weeks. Cousins’ passer rating of 77.4 ranks 31st—just behind Tampa Bay rookie Jameis Winston and ahead of Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Denver’s Peyton Manning.
Asked earlier this week how long it takes to get a good feel for whether an inexperienced quarterback can become a quality starter, Gruden said: “That’s a great question, and hopefully that’ll be answered here in the next few weeks. In the next five, six, seven, eight games. …Let’s see how he progresses. Let’s see what happens here at the end of the year and go from there.”
Maybe that’s why Cousins isn’t feeling any additional pressure. Or, maybe it’s because Cousins avoids his critics on sports talk radio and social media.
“I don’t listen to what they're saying,” Cousins said. “I turn on NPR instead of 106.7 [The Fan] or [ESPN] 980 sometimes. I turn on HGTV instead of ESPN. I think there are times where you can intentionally block it out, if you’re asking how to do that. I don’t have a lot of social media on my phone. So it’s not quite as accessible to me as maybe it is to some other guys.”
Which is probably a good thing considering the divide among fans over the quarterback situation and their growing frustration with the direction of the season.
“It doesn’t do me any good to hear that," Cousins added. "I know what’s at stake. I know how important it is to me and to the people around me and to this fan base. I want nothing more than to help this team get to a place with a lot of wins and a playoff berth and all that. I’m heart-attack serious about making this happen. It takes time. It’s going to take some work and we’ll see where we are down the stretch here.”