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For Kirk Cousins, and maybe Redskins fans, it's time to trust the process

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USA Today Sports

For Kirk Cousins, and maybe Redskins fans, it's time to trust the process

To many fans, the Redskins displayed a level of heart and tenacity in last Sunday's come-from-behind win in Seattle that the team lacked last season. 

For Kirk Cousins, however, the process outweighed the outcome. And not in the plus column. 

"I’ve learned to ignore outcomes at times, I’ve learned to ignore the noise on the outside and just focus on the process. And I’ll be the first one to say that the process against Seattle by no means was perfect," Cousins said Wednesday. "I felt like there were a lot of mistakes. Maybe it never had to come down to a two-minute drill if we had been better through the first three-and-a-half quarters."

Usually insightful, Cousins answered the question with forthright introspection. Earlier this year, Cousins said that he was not searching for signature wins, rather a signature season. Asked after the Seahawks game if the victory carried more importance, if for nothing else than to keep the Redskins in the playoff hunt, he talked about the process compared to the outcome. 

And he explained that outcomes don't always portray performance, particularly in his position. 

"I think this is a great case study in the way that the outside thinks versus the way that I think. And I totally understand from covering the team, fan base perspective, the emotional rollercoaster, I understand that a two-minute drill on the road against a good football team, finding a way to win, it’s exciting and it’s fun and it gets the juices going," Cousins said. "I’m a little bit more process-oriented and there have been games where I’ve thrown for a lot of yards and felt like I played nearly flawlessly but we lost."

It's an interesting paradox for Cousins, and likely for quarterbacks all over the league. 

Much like starting pitchers in baseball, QBs often get assigned the blame for a loss or the credit for a win. In Cousins' situation, it seems like that happens on an accelerated scale. 

And it sounds like he's cognizant of that.

"I walk away saying, ‘I’m getting better, I’m doing really good things, I’m about the process, and my process was really good today. I can’t control the outcome but the process was really good.’ But the noise on the outside is, ‘He’s got to get better, he’s not doing enough, we didn’t come away with the win.’"

That's why Cousins ignores the outside noise.

Does that mean he ignores the meaning in the come-from-behind win in Seattle? Not exactly. 

"Was it a great finish? Yes. Did we show a lot of character? Yes. Did I love the resiliency? Is that a game I’ll remember? Yes. But, I don’t like to get too outcome-focused."

Listening to Cousins, it sounds like focusing on outcomes, instead of the process, could allow for complacency to set in. Particularly after a big win on the road. 

"I feel, on the outside, I feel that happening after this game and that’s OK, on the outside. My concern is in the locker room, in our organization, making sure that we don’t allow that to creep in."

Cousins' comments come with some element of surprise. Few NFL players give that honest, that open of an answer, especially following a major win.

Many players would relish in the positive attention a game like the Redskins played in Seattle creates. Fans love it. Media members report on the highlights, and the excitement, from such a victory. 

None of that is wrong either.

Players should be allowed to enjoy themselves. Fans should absolutely enjoy themselves. The media's job is to report on what happens, and when that's a wild, comeback win, the story is more fun to report. 

For Cousins, though, it's clear he wasn't thrilled with his play in Seattle.

He completed 21 of 31 passes for 247 yards. He got sacked a number of times, and was hit consistently throughout the game, playing behind a patchwork offensive line. 

The most memorable of those 21 passes, by a large margin, came in the final two minutes, when the Redskins quarterback drove the team 70 yards in less than a minute, and engineered the game winning touchdown. 

The good news for Redskins fans?

Despite the late heroics, Cousins isn't happy.

He liked the outcome, obviously, but not the process. 

That process - that mindset - will drive the Redskins' passer to better performances. 

For Kirk Cousins, and maybe Redskins fans, it's time to trust the process. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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2018 NFL Power Rankings: Through Week 3, some teams are known and others are still mysteries

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2018 NFL Power Rankings: Through Week 3, some teams are known and others are still mysteries

The sample size for the 2018 NFL season is still small, but three weeks is enough to start figuring out who's legitimate, who's legitimately bad and who's legitimately confusing.

The first group houses teams like the Rams and the Chiefs, even though the Chiefs defense apparently wants to watch Pat Mahomes just as much as the rest of us and therefore allows people to score on them repeatedly.

The second group, meanwhile, consists of dreadful groups like the Cardinals, Raiders and the Bills, even after Buffalo somehow took down the Vikings and Vegas all in one afternoon.

The last group, though, is the largest, because so many squads have flashed and crashed already through just three contests. 

CLICK HERE FOR WEEK 4 POWER RANKINGS

The Redskins, for example — are they a sneaky NFC contender or an up-and-down bunch destined for another mediocre record? 

Then there's the Chargers. The other Los Angeles franchise is without their scariest defender and has lost to two of the sport's elites. So is their 1-2 mark going to improve like you'd expect as they get healthier and face easier opponents?

This week's power rankings do their best to slot the powers at the top, the weaklings at the bottom and then deal with the in-betweeners. That's why you'll encounter some 2-1 outfits in the 20s and some 1-2 or 1-1-1 organizations around the top 10. 

Enough of the writing, however. Let's get to the list.

Click below for a fresh batch of NBCSportsWashington.com's power rankings.

CLICK HERE FOR WEEK 4 POWER RANKINGS

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Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are changing the Redskins defense

Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are changing the Redskins defense

The Redskins spent time, money and draft capital to improve their defensive front. Through three games of the 2018 season, those moves are paying off. 

Construction of a rebuilt defensive line truly began at the 2017 NFL Draft when Jonathan Allen slipped all the way to Washington with the 17th pick. He showed plenty of promise last season, but an injury cut his season short after five games. The Redskins barely recovered from his absence and the team's rush defense limped to finish last in the NFL. 

Washington continued to invest in the defensive front in 2018, drafting Daron Payne in the first round and Tim Settle in the fifth. The 'Skins also re-signed tackling machine linebacker Zach Brown during free agency. 

Add it all up, and the Redskins currently rank in the top 5 of the NFL in nearly every meaningful defensive category. Giving up fewer than 15 points-per-game, Washington is tied for second in the NFL with the vaunted Jacksonville defense. Prefer the yardage allowed metric to measure team defense? Washington (278 per-game) only ranks behind the Ravens (273 per-game). 

Any good defense has strong players lining up from the front to the back, but it always starts up front.

In Washington, that means Payne and Allen at the top of the list. 

"Those two guys are special guys and they need to be on the field," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said on Monday, after Payne and Allen combined for three sacks of Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers.

"We have some other guys that can play without a doubt, but those two guys are first-rounders and very talented, so the more they play, the better they get."

Add in Matt Ioannidis, who has three sacks in three games, and the Redskins have a stout, young defensive line. Almost more importantly, all three players are on rookie, team-friendly contracts. In fact, Pro Football Focus has Ioannidis ranked as the highest graded of the Redskins defensive linemen, probably because of crazy plays like this.

Washington will continue to push Payne and Allen into more situations and more snaps. In the Packers game, both of the former University of Alabama defensive tackles played more than they ever had before. 

"The first couple games we had a rotation going and trying to get their feet wet together, especially Daron, but I think he showed that he can handle the reps and we want to get him out there. We didn’t draft him in the first round to sit by me," Gruden said. "I was impressed with the way that he and Jonathan played, not only at the start of the game, but at the end of the game. They were flying to the football. They were making plays downfield, in the pocket, in the running game. Those two guys together, the vision that we had when we drafted them, getting Jonathan and Daron together came to fruition."

This week the Redskins get to rest and nurse some wounds, particularly along the offensive line. After their bye, however, both sides of the football will be tested. 

First comes a Monday night game in New Orleans with the explosive Saints offense. That will be the biggest test yet for the young D-line. The following week will bring a different, more physical test for Allen and company: Cam Newton and the Panthers.

Redskins fans should be excited about the young defensive front. The play has been very encouraging, and that's without much statistical production yet from outside pass rushing stalwarts Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. 

If the defensive numbers look the same after games against Drew Brees and Newton, then the conversation is no longer about potential. It's about results. 

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