A pause can say a lot.
Asked to describe Kirk Cousins' 2017 season, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden paused. After the coach took a second to collect his thoughts, he gave an honest answer (full video above).
"When you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding,’" Gruden said. "Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9."
Gruden's response wasn't a glowing recommendation, but it was fair.
"He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns," the coach said. "I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things."
Cousins played well in 2017, but it would be hard to describe his play as outstanding, particularly late in the year.
While he threw for more than 4,000 yards for the third straight season, Cousins looked particularly poor over the last month of the season.
In December losses against the Chargers and Giants, Cousins threw for less than 160 yards. In the season finale in New York, Cousins threw three interceptions, one worse than the next.
It's important to point out that Cousins was leading a depleted offense. Injuries hurt the offensive line, running backs and star tight end Jordan Reed wasn't playing either.
Still, Cousins was bad.
For the Redskins, Cousins' poor performance late in 2017 should not override his solid performance for the past three seasons. He has established himself as an NFL starter, and if he's able to hit free agency, will have plenty of teams interested.
He also played some great games in 2017, the "flashes" Gruden described, like a three touchdown November performance in New Orleans, in a loss, or a near flawless showing against Oakland back in Week 3. In that win, Cousins completed 25 of 30 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns.
Take note of Gruden's comments, though, as the head coach will be back in 2018 and has a strong voice in the personnel room.
If a quarterback isn't outstanding, how much does it make sense to pay him per year?
Is that number $25 million? Does it stretch to $29 million, the cost of the transition tag? Or could it go all the way to $34 million, the cost of a third straight franchise tag?
For two straight offseasons, the Redskins have not come near what Cousins expects to be paid for a long-term deal. After Gruden's pause, it's hard to know if that will change in 2018.
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