Redskins

Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 16, 41 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 29
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 55
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 86

Did Cousins over prepare for 2016?

Kirk Cousins was not as good down the stretch in 2016 as he was in 2015. The numbers don’t lie:

The difference is stark. Last year he broke most of the team’s major single-season passing records and it felt like he accomplished a lot. This year, he broke his own records but given the way he finished it feels more like he compiled empty stats.

The Redskins’ record doesn’t lie, either. They went 4-1 in their last five games on their way to the division title in 2015. Last year they stumbled, going 2-3 and missing out on the playoffs.

Perhaps we now know why Cousins seemed to hit the wall after playing very well for the first 11 games. This is what he said when asked what his focus would be during the six-week break between the end of minicamp and the July 27 start of training camp.

 

“My focus is to rest and recover and get my mind in a place where come Week 11, 12, 13, I’m fully energized and ready to go,” he said. “I think that’s key. I do believe that last year I remember watching film for the Steelers Week 1 and it hit me that we hadn’t played a game yet, technically. I felt like I had been going a million miles an hour since the previous end of the playoff game against the Packers. I was almost worn out, if you will, before the season started, because I had pushed so hard to be top of my game in OTA one, and training camp practice one, and preseason game one.”

It would be logical to infer that Cousins didn’t believe that he was “fully energized and ready to go” when December rolled around last year. In his first offseason where he was the starter from the very beginning of the cycle, he went at it too hard.

“I think I was treating every day like it was Monday Night Football against the Steelers,” he said. “I think if you do that 365 days a year, there’s a thing called burnout. OK, you might get it year six, you might get it year 10, but eventually, you’re going to burn out. I just realized , OK… It was like Wednesday before the Steelers game, I said literally everything I have done to this point, which I felt like was a lot, means nothing. It has no value of any kind. You know, when the season is over, I will not be measured on any of it. And, so, that hit me like, ‘Now it counts, now I’ve got to be ready, and I’m pretty exhausted.’ So, that’s all I was trying to get at.”

To remedy this, Cousins has decided to take some time off to refresh himself mentally.

“You know, just enjoying the summer, taking time to get away, spending time with family is all positive things,” he said. “Even right now, just spending time, you know, playing golf, enjoying the time off rather than going over the plays 80 times.”

We don’t see what Cousins does when he is not at Redskins Park but there was some tangible evidence of his more relaxed approach during the OTAs and minicamp that were open to the media. Last year he tended to celebrate touchdown passes and even some third-down completions as though they had taken place in the Super Bowl. This year, he let his teammates know he appreciated their efforts in a more subtle manner.

This does not mean that Cousins will completely get away from football for six weeks. He’s looking for some middle ground.

“It’s a balance. Life, you know, in the middle lies virtue,” he said. “It’s never prepare, prepare, prepare like crazy with no rest and it’s never, ‘Hey, I don’t need to prepare. I can just show up.’ Somewhere is I think the healthy medium and that is what I am always trying to find.”

 

We will start to find out how well his approach works starting in September. But the proof will come in December when the Redskins will need Cousins to help them win down the stretch to stay relevant in the playoff race.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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