September 30, 2014

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden’s Friday media availability

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed what he was going to do to correct Kirk Cousins’s interception problem: “He’s a young guy playing the position, and young guys playing that position at this level will tend to make mistakes from time to time.

We’ve just got to make sure he sees the throws a little bit better and his eyes are in the right spot. There’s a couple of them that he stared down the receiver and the safety just came over and made an easy pick.”

Gruden went into more detail. “One of them [Cousins] just had bad location on the ball to Ryan Grant, and another one he threw a blind one to the out route when he was throwing to Andre Roberts and the nickel was sitting right there. He never saw him, which you have to see those throws. You’ve got to get his eyes in the right spot, got to calm in down, and then we’ve got to help him out as play callers to get him more comfortable.”

Gruden was asked if he was worried about Cousins’s performance coming off two good games: “It’s worrisome – you have to take the game for what it is. We lost the game, he didn’t play very well, he threw four picks, we understand that, and a fumble, but he didn’t have a lot of help, either.

There weren’t a lot of people – the defense didn’t help him out, the offensive line didn’t help him out, the receivers didn’t help him out. There’s a lot of other factors that we could have had better game, a better outing, if other people were helping more.

It’s not just Kirk. Kirk, his mistakes are magnified obviously, but there are other guys who had mistakes that were equally important and devastating to the football game.

We just have to continue to work to get better, and we will, but we’re not going to hold Kirk’s head under the water right now. We’re going to keep him composed and getting better, and he’s going to be fine next week.”

Gruden discussed using his playcalling to get Cousins into a rhythm: “Well, you try to get them into the rhythm. Obviously, that’s the entire goal, and getting him into that rhythm is the short-passing game, maybe, maybe taking a shot or something like that that you feel really good about – the look you’re going to get and the protection you’re going to have.

Obviously, getting the running game involved, and then as the game goes on we have a sack-fumble, we start to throw the interceptions and that’s when you’ve got to try to limit your damage.

That’s when you might have to take some pressure off of him – maybe hand the ball off, try some screens or something of that nature.

We were down by a couple scores and we chose to really still try to press the ball down the field a little bit to try and get back into the game because I never felt like we were out of the game until we were down 24 there at the end.

The mistakes kept mounting, so we’ll just have to do a good job in the future of trying to keep the game close, No.1, so we can run the ball and punt and throw the screen every now and then I don’t have to worry about it.

But last night was a little bit of a different deal. We were down 10, then 17, then 24, so we were forced to kind of throw it.”

Gruden detailed what went wrong on the first turnover of the game, when Mathias Kiwanuka sacked and then stripped Cousins: “Well, that was probably on Polumbus.

Kirk was looking to the left – we had a three-man route combination route to the left. They actually covered it pretty good so Kirk, since his eyes were to the left, he never saw [Mathias] Kiwanuka coming around the corner. He beat him clean.

It was a great pass rush by him but we have got to do a better job of being competitive there at right tackle on those tough downs – those third-down-and-eights where you’re trying to get the ball and drive it past the sticks. They’re going to take a little extra time letting those route combinations develop.

For a quarterback to make his reads, we’ve got to do a better job protecting him. They had a good pass rush. That’s why staying out of third-and-eights and third-and-nine is crucial for any offense to be successful – especially this one.”

Blowout recovery

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked about what disturbed him most about Thursday night’s blowout loss to the New York Giants: “I think the most disturbing thing was – obviously, the outcome was disturbing – but I just think, obviously offensively, when you have six turnovers and the penalties, that’s very disturbing.

Defensively, our inability to get pressure on the quarterback, get off the field on third down and really just pose any kind of physical threat to the Giant offense was disturbing. We’re running to the ball, we’re trying hard, they just had our number.

For whatever reason, we were lacking the ability to contest short throws and we’ve got to do better job of that. There’s a lot of disturbing things in that game, unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted, but we will learn from it and move on.”

Gruden talked about his short-term plans for the next few days: “I’m giving them a couple days off to recuperate, get their minds and bodies right. We need them healthy, both mentally and physically.

We are going to challenge them to come back and learn from this and make sure they do everything in their power to not do this again, especially in front of our home crowd. We’re obviously very disappointed in how we played in front of our home crowd.

But the big thing is we’ve got to get out bodies healthy, we’ve got to get our minds healthy and we’ve got to make sure our commitment is in the right spot- and we come back committed to turning this thing around.

The first quarter is over of the season, we are 1-3, so we still have three quarters left and we can still do a lot of damage and still achieve all our goals. We’ve just got to get this thing turned around quickly if our frame of mind is right and we get out guys healthy.”

Gruden discussed the idea that the Redskins needed this blowout as a wake-up call. “We’ve had some success a little bit. We went to Philadelphia, they played hard, lost 37-34. We had a lot of things go wrong as far as some unfortunate mistakes.

But, you know, I just think that sometimes you need a beating like this to let people know that you have a lot of work to do. When you’re in close games like that and you win 41-10 with 10 sacks on defense and you have 500 yards of offense the next week, people tend to think that they might be a little bit better than they are and coaches included.

So, despite being -2, I just think that now that we’re 1-3, reality check has come in full force and we don’t have a choice now. There’s no wasted reps now. We have to take advantage of all our reps and all of our time together to get this thing turned around because we have dug ourselves into a hole so to speak and we’ve got to get out of it quickly.”

Gruden isn’t worried that the Redskins will be too emotionally scarred by the blowout: “I think we have a good group of guys, man, character-wise. And I’m hoping this is a wakeup call. You know, it’s like I said last night, a slap in the face that ‘Hey, you’re not as good as you think you are. You have a lot more work to do than you think you do.’

And hopefully they’ll get it done and realize that. Both coaches are players realize that we have to put in the extra time, we have to put in the extra work, we have to put in the extra preparation, we have to stay focused for longer and work harder for us to be successful because we can’t just put our uniform on and jog onto the field and act like we’re going to beat peoples’ butt without working. We have to work a little bit harder than the next guy and if we have that mentality coming back then we’re going to be competitive in all our games.

If not, if we’re feeling sorry for ourselves or giving up on each other, then we have no chance.

But, I feel very strongly that the group of guys that we have and coaches will get the most out of them and get the most out of this season.”

Penalties

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden talked about the lack of discipline that manifested itself in so many penalties: “There is a couple times we give the guys 15 more yards or give them a extra down. Heck, they had third down and goal at the two-yard line and we get a stop and they call illegal holding or something on Perry Riley, which was really a shaky call anyway.

We have to do a better job. We try to talk about penalties, we show penalties, we have done everything we can, we’ve just got to continue to focus on them.

Defensively, offensively we had some more holding calls last night, Logan [Paulsen] had one, Trent [Williams] had one, we had a false start on Trent.

All these become very magnified in close games and we are going have a lot of close games. We don’t have the personnel right now to line up and beat anybody handily. So we have to make sure we protect the football and eliminate the penalties for us to win the way we need to win.”

Gruden elaborated on the penalties committed on special teams: “The penalty on the extra point? Well, you had the one offsides on Tracy Porter which was uncalled for, that was just being lazy.

The other one was [Clifton] Geathers. He tried to jump over the offensive lineman and we know that is illegal. I’ve heard Coach [Ben] Kotwica say you can’t do that. We have shown tape of not being able to do that but Geathers tried to do it anyway and got caught for it.

That’s part of being accountable and that is something we just have to continue to preach to our team. All those penalties, man, they become very magnified when you lose, but they are also going to keep you down from winning games in the future.

We play Seattle, we play Dallas twice, we still play the Giants again and Philly. We have a great schedule ahead of us.

And these penalties, like you guys are saying, are going to cost us dearly. We have to address them as a staff, but ultimately it is up to the players being accountable for what they are doing and we just cannot allow it.”

Gruden spoke about left tackle Trent Williams’s two penalties: “Yeah, it’s unfortunate because other than those two penalties he really played well. You never even heard [Jason] Pierre-Paul’s name.

He really did a great job all night in pass protection and in the run game, but he did have the unfortunate hold. He was on them and they both went to the ground and usually when both the defensive linemen and offensive linemen go to the ground, they’ll call it on the offensive lineman.

Then he had the false start, which he got a little too ahead of himself.

Overall, when you play 60-plus play and you have two negative plays, you know penalties, you want to eliminate the penalties but he still played pretty good, I think.”

Defense

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked what changes schematically or intensity-wise would he make after Thursday night’s debacle against the New York Giants.

“The guys are playing hard, there’s no doubt about it. We just failed to make some plays.

We have a couple of young corners. Losing DeAngelo Hall and Bashaud [Breeland] had to play a lot of minutes early in the game at corner for the first time after not getting any live reps in practice that week because of the short week. [It] had a little bit of impact on him.

And then, of course, the soreness and the injuries to Hatcher and Orakpo hurt our pass rush a little bit in my opinion. And we lost Jarvis Jenkins early, so he was down.

I don’t think schematically was really the issue, I just think we failed to make some plays. There’s some things we could do schematically a little bit different, and I will go in and see what’s going on and if I can help in any way and put my two cents in and change a few things we will, but I don’t really think it’s really schematic-related.

I think more so it was just guys not making plays and finishing tackles and competing when the ball was in the air.

And not to mention, it was Eli Manning making some dynamic throws and being very efficient. He showed why he’s won two Super Bowls. He came in and was efficient and made some good plays.”

Gruden commented on the toll injuries took on the Redskins pass rush: “I think that was a big factor, really. You could see [Jason] Hatcher didn’t have the same pop off the line of scrimmage as he normally has. I don’t think he really trusted his hamstring. You could see that. [Brian] Orakpo, ‘It’s just a finger,’ you say, but for a pass rusher, to be able to use that left hand or use his hands quite a bit, to not be able to use them, you could see it affect his pass rush. So those are two very glaring reasons why the pass rush wasn’t there.

Also, there wasn’t a lot of great pass rush opportunities. I think they were only in third-and-long a handful of times and they got those balls out quick. So we’ve got to do a better job on first and second down, like I said before.

We’ve got to do a much better job contesting throws on the outside as far as playing bump and run, knocking receivers off their [routes], getting off the line of scrimmage, not letting them have free releases and making easy, uncontested throws. We’ve got to do a better job of contesting throws.”

Gruden was asked about the defensive backs’ inability to get a jam on the Giants receivers coming off the line of scrimmage: “No, they were trying to. We asked them to do it. If you’re in bump and run, it’s called ‘bump’ and run for a reason and we just weren’t getting a good piece of them.

And hats off to the Giants’ receivers for doing a good job of being patient at the line of scrimmage and working their releases and getting off cleanly, but we’ve got to do a better job as defensive backs and linebackers when we’re out there playing bump and run – get hands on them and reroute the guys.

That wasn’t happening, and when you reroute them, it gives your defensive linemen that extra count to get home. Since we weren’t rerouting them, receivers were getting off clean and Eli [Manning] was throwing everything on rhythm and didn’t really have to pull the ball down at all to go to his second or third receiver.

He was pretty efficient on who he wanted to go to and was able to get it out quick and didn’t really let our defensive line get a chance to pressure him.”

OPINION: Harsh dose of reality for Washington Redskins after Giants beatdown

Washington Redskins fans cling to every last glimmer of hope with every fiber of their being. You can’t blame them. For 20 years, this team has been the Lucy to its fans’ Charlie Brown, holding that football out for them enticingly, only to pull it away at the last, sending poor Chuck to an embarrassing and painful fall.

The latest shimmer of hope, Kirk Cousins, went dark Thursday night, as the New York Football Giants picked him off four times and forced him to fumble yet again. Cousins has now turned the ball over an astonishing 18 times in 10 games, including 13 interceptions and five fumbles.

That’s absolutely no way to win in this league. [Read more...]

Washington Redskins Game 4 Review: Turnovers kill in blowout loss to Giants

The Washington Redskins were dominated in every phase of play on national television Thursday night, convincingly falling to the division-rival New York Giants 45-14.

Kirk Cousins, who looked so good last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, looked that bad against New York, completing 19 of 33 for 257 yards, a staggering four interceptions — including three in a span of five attempts — and a fumble. [Read more...]

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Week Four loss to the New York Giants

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 45-14 loss to the New York Giants:

  1. The turnovers came early and often.

It all started when Tyler Polumbus got beat around the edge by a speed rush from Mathias Kiwanuka. Kirk Cousins’s clock did not go off in his head, he never saw the rusher, did not step up in the pocket, but got blasted, lost the football, and gave the Giants a short field. Then while still in the game and poised to score, Logan Paulson gets stood up and stripped after a small dump off pass. As if this was not bad enough to have given up ten points off of turnovers and missing a scoring opportunity, the second half was a disaster. On a play that Pierre Garcon came out for and Ryan Grant was matched up against Prince Amukamara, Cousins throws it right between the two and the zero. Only problem is Grant’s number is 14 and Amukamara’s is 20, whether this was Grant’s fault or not is up in the air but it was the first domino to fall in the demise of the Redskins. After getting the ball back, Cousins gives it right back to the Giants by lofting up a deep ball that the center fielder Quintin Demps easily picks off. To pile on more, Cousins throws a ball right to Trumaine McBride who he must not have seen undercut Andre Robert’s route. The misery came to an end when Cousins was picked off on an underthrown deep ball by Antre Rolle where he had no room to step up in the pocket.

  1. Kirk Cousins reaffirms that “this is Roberts’s team”.

After playing nearly out of his mind just four short days ago in Philadelphia, Cousins played worse than a rookie. He threw four interceptions in the span of eight pass attempts and for most of the second half had more completions to the Giants defenders than his own receivers. Not seeing the defender is simply not excuse at this level. That’s now 15 interceptions, 3 lost fumbles and 14 touchdown passes in 11 career games for Cousins. Unlike last week, Cousins was not able to get his best two playmakers in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson involved in the game giving the Giants secondary a night off. On balls intended to wide receivers, Cousins was a lousy 4-for-17 with four interceptions, proving that dumping the ball off to running backs and tight ends will not cut it in the NFL. Cousins will probably have another four weeks to showcase himself, but seeing as how the next two weeks are against the great defenses of Seattle and Arizona I do not see him continuing to start once Robert Griffin is healthy.

  1. Defense gets torched, but not completely their fault.

To say the defense got burned by the Giants’ mediocre core of tight ends is an understatement. They gave up three touchdowns to unheard of Larry Donnell in a span of 20 minutes and had everyone rushing to their fantasy teams. They also gave up another touchdown to the Giants backup tight end Daniel Fells, which ended the game momentum wise. The defense did do a bad job again, but when being so thin at all position, without DeAngelo Hall and having Brian Orakpo and Jason Hatcher not playing 100%, it is tough to defend an NFL offense on a short week. To make matters worse that offense could not sustain drives and turned the ball over often making them stay on the field for over 37 minutes of the game while getting little rest in between.

  1. More bad injury news.

After one of the best throws by Kirk Cousins in the game where he dropped it right into the bucket of Niles Paul, Paul was nearly decapitated with two vicious hits from the Giant’s defensive backs. Paul was motionless for some time in which he had his arms extended forward and for sure either unconscious or dazed. He was diagnosed with a concussion and will have to go through the NFL’s protocol before returning to action. More bad news came when Trent Williams came up hobbling after one of Cousin’s interceptions. He has officially been ruled as having a strained right knee and will get an MRI tomorrow to figure out the scope of the injury. The preliminary word is no ligament damage, possibly a dislocated knee cap that he thinks might have popped back in, but currently in a lot of pain. Defensively, Jarvis Jenkins has bruised, but no broken, ribs that were aggravated on the second goal line stand.

  1. The future looks bleaker than the present, seriously.

In 11 days the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks will be coming to town with their eyes on having a feast on a down team. The Giants are not a good football team, but the Seahawks are and it could be déjà vu all over again next game if serious changes are not made. Fans can hold onto hope by a thread if they believe that the time to get healthy will make a difference, but if it doesn’t things could be ugly again on national television.

Washington Redskins Week 4 Preview: New York Giants

It hasn’t been an easy start to the 2014 Washington Redskins season, although there’s more hope than usually accompanies their current 1-2 record.  Despite debilitating injuries so far, the Redskins offense has managed to impress over the past two weeks while the defense has displayed improvement at times.  The have a short week ahead, however, as the New York Giants will travel to FedEx Field and challenge the Redskins with their second divisional game in four days. Luckily, the Redskins seem to be catching the Giants during a slow start to their season.

The Giants, like Washington, are 1-2 and are in the midst of what could be a transformational year for their franchise.  The Giants no longer boast the dominant defense they were known for just a few short years ago.  Quarterback Eli Manning is coming off a statistically career-worst 2013 campaign and doesn’t look to be changing that trend, thus placing his future with the team in serious question.  Finally, head coach Tom Coughlin, who has two years left on his contract, is thought to be on his shortest leash ever.

There are a few bright spots so far this season for New York.  Last week, the Giants scored a solid 30 points against a strong Houston defense in rout to a win.  Running back Rashad Jennings, now in his sixth NFL season, has been impressive early, amassing 286 yards and averaging 4.2 yards per carry. However, there remains many more questions rather than answers concerning how the Giants will perform in a division where teams may be a lot closer than most predicted during the preseason.

The Washington Redskins are looking to answer some of the numerous questions they are facing on Thursday night.  Is the defense worthy of a top five ranking?  Is Kirk Cousins for real?  What is wrong with the special teams unit?  The matchup against New York may not give us definitive answers, but this is a team that the Redskins, based on the last two weeks, should be able to beat.

Ironically enough, our keys to the game this week vs. New York center around these very questions the Redskins will look to solve.

Keys to the game

Defense: Next man up

The Redskins defense has been decimated by injury in just three short weeks.  When they lineup against the Giants Thursday night, they will already be starting rookie and sophomore corners due to DeAngelo Hall landing on season ending injured reserve.  To add even more insult to injury, many defensive starters and solid depth contributors were limited in practice this week.  The secondary seems exposed, the front seven is banged up, and the unit looked fairly unimpressive at times during the Philadelphia game.

There is hope for this week, however.  The Eagles are a top ten, if not top five offense in the league this year and the defense was still able to hold them just enough to give the Redskins offense a chance to win the game.  This week, they face a much less talented, albeit still dangerous, offensive unit comprised of INT-happy Eli Manning, elusive Victor Cruz, and bruiser Rashad Jennings.  The key to beating this offense is simple, as it is most weeks: force Manning into mistakes.

Over the span of his career, Eli has held his own in the pocket, escaping impossible pass rush situations to find an open receiver downfield.  This cannot happen tonight.  Jason Hatcher, Chris Baker, and the two outside linebackers must get to Manning early and often.  The secondary is in transition and may have a tough time maintaining solid coverage on his receivers throughout the game.  An effective pass rush is the main ingredient to success.

Kirk Cousins: Glory awaits

Despite earlier comments, and even after reaffirming those comments, this is Kirk Cousins’ team until further notice.  The last two games have been nothing short of outstanding for the third year quarterback, but now he must take his game to a new level.  As Robert Griffin III did so many times in his electrifying rookie campaign, the next step for Cousins is to put the team on his back and win the game.  The win was there for the taking late in the fourth quarter last week and Cousins couldn’t capitalize.  It seems as though he starts games strong and steadily declines as time ticks down.  He needs to find a way to re-focus, re-energize, and re-capitalize on just how important he is to the success of this team.

Kirk Cousins will post another outstanding performance against the Giants.  He is a perfect fit for what Jay Gruden wants to install in his weekly offensive game plan.  The key will be ensuring that Kirk’s plethora of talented targets are on the same page.  That, along with a healthy dose of Alfred Morris and Roy Helu Jr., should be enough to get the Redskins in position to win the game.

We want Danny Smith

Ok, so maybe Redskins fans shouldn’t jump ship on special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica just yet.  We are three weeks into the season after all.  But, and this is putting it lightly, the special teams performance through the intial games of the season have been an unmitigated disaster.  Blocked field goals, missed field goals, returns for touchdowns.  We’ve seen almost every special teams blunder possible and it has been three weeks.  What is wrong with this unit?

The burgundy and gold faithful should take a deep breath and exhale here.  Kotwica has already made a change that is drastically improving the unit already, and that’s putting lefty punter Tress Way on kickoff duties.  Way, in his short time, has proven that he can put the ball in the endzone on kickoffs more consistently than place kicker Kai Forbath.  This is only a start, of course, but you have to begin somewhere and preventing a return altogether is certainly an improvement.

Redskins fans are eager for signs of life from Special Teams tonight.

OUR PREDICTIONS

Dave Nichols

Kirk Cousins follows up his mostly stellar performance against the Eagles with another good outing at home against the Giants. Alfred Morris plays a bigger role as well. The defense will still look bad but the Giants make too many mistakes on offense. Redskins 24 Giants 21

Joe Ziegengeist

Kirk Cousins shines, special teams gets back on track, but the banged up defense falters.  Skins win a close one here.  Redskins 31 Giants 27

Neil Dalal

Kirk Cousins has shown potential to execute Jay Gruden’s offense and hopefully with another week of practice he will have more chemistry with his receivers. Although we are struggling with many injuries hopefully since the Giants have to travel here on a short week hopefully they will have a slight advantage. Hopefully the front seven can continue to stop the run against a hot Rashad Jennings and the depleted secondary can find a way to shut down Victor Cruz, a historic Redskins killer. Unfortunately I do not think our defense is up to the task without Deangelo Hall, but Cousins will give the team an opportunity to win late.  Redskins 30 Giants 27

Joe Miller

The offense under Kirk Cousins isn’t quite as explosive this week as it was against the Eagles, but Alfred Morris has a bigger impact. The defense continues to shut down the run well and are able to take advantage of turnover-prone Eli Manning with a couple interceptions.  Redskins 24 Giants 16

Justin Byram

The Redskins come out Hungry for their first divisional win since 2012, and dominate the Giants. The Redskins front seven puts pressure on Manning forcing two costly turnovers, while Cousins and the offense do their job and the Redskins cruise to a victory at home.  Redskins 28 Giants 17

Eric Hobeck

A fourth-quarter touchdown drive by Cousins gives Washington a big win ahead of the long week before the Seattle game.  Redskins 28 Giants 24

 

 

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses Thursday matchup with Giants

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed his preparations for playing Thursday night against the New York Giants, “Playing Thursday night, I made that statement [Monday], it’s rough on everybody but the good news for the players is [that]  they get Monday off, they get Tuesday, we walk through Wednesday, they walk through and they play Thursday so their body should be somewhat regrouped by then, you know what I mean?”

Gruden talked about having the spotlight on Thursday night, “Yeah, that’s exciting. It’s a home game and we make a big deal about our home games and it’s a division game, and we’re both 1-2 so it’s a huge game for both of us.

I know Coach [Tom] Coughlin is going to have his team ready. We’re going to have our team ready, but this a very important game.

You fall too far behind the 8-ball this early in the season, it’s going to be tough sledding and we’re already behind the 8-ball at 1-2. The team that goes to 1-3 is not out of it by any stretch but it’s going to be a lot harder than if you’re 2-2.

So we know the importance of this game – all division games are important, they’re all rivalries – and we’ve got to get after it.”

Gruden spoke about his first short week as an NFL head coach: “It’s hectic, you know? We prepped for the Giants in the offseason because we knew this was coming and the defense did their work – obliviously worked on Green Bay’s offense and we did our work based on what the Giants did last year and Coach [Perry] Fewell and Coach Coughlin.

So, we have got a little bit of history with them obviously, so that’s good. At least it’s not a brand new opponent with a brand new scheme we haven’t seen – at least we’ve seen these guys. They’ve seen them twice – Sean McVay has been here, Chris Foerster – so we’ve got a pretty good general idea about their system.

Now it’s a matter of getting plays installed Monday morning and getting players out there and practicing them… That’s the same thing. We’re going through the same process, we just have got to do it a lot faster. You have got to watch film a little bit faster, you have got to go through the plays a little bit faster, you have got to write down the plays faster.”

On quarterback Kirk Cousins’s preparation during a short week, Gruden said, “A short week is more mental preparation than anything and it would be nice to go outside and throw the passes you’re going to throw in the game or work on the patterns and the pass concepts you’re going to see against the defenses you’re thinking you’re going to see, but we’re in the bubble right now and going through walkthrough so it’s a little bit different tempo I’d say than come Thursday night.

But he’s doing a good job and that’s all we can do – just watch the tape, study the game plan and get yourself mentally prepared and come [Thursday] night hopefully it all clicks for you but he’s done a nice job.”

Cousins discussed the differences in preparation in a short week: “I have always said, I can’t run by them, I can’t throw it through them, so I have got to know where they are going to be and the only way I can do that is through good preparation. You know, it’s worked for me to this point and I need to keep doing it and I can’t get complacent as I get more and more familiar.

But, in a short week, that is the challenge, especially at the quarterback position. There is a lot we have to do in only a few days and you want to make sure you get your rest and you’re well-rested come Thursday night.

It’s all about time management going back to when I was a college student – they would tell you about being a good manager of your time. You still feel that way now in the pros. You’ve got to manage your time well and make sure that every second you’re in there watching film or drawing plays or talking with coaches you’re not wasting time but you are making good use of it leading up to Thursday night.”

Cousins mentioned being featured on Thursday night football: “It is a great opportunity to be in the national spotlight and try to show this entire league what the Washington Redskins are about. So hopefully we can put on a good show and get a win.

As far as my opinion on a Thursday night game, this is the first time I have actually had to play then turn around and make that short week happen, so I’m new at this.

But when you didn’t take any real big hits on Sunday, selfishly, physically I don’t feel terrible. I am not the right guy to ask because I am not in a position that is getting banged every snap. But it is tough on your body and something you don’t want have to do week in and week out.

The benefit, the flip side of it if you want to look at the positives is that when the game is over Thursday night we do get a couple extra days to catch up and rest and recover leading into out next game, so there is a tradeoff there.”

As for the Giants, head coach Tom Coughlin talked about how he has prepared for short weeks for years, “You obviously move on and we have a formula that we use and we followed for quite a few years, but you’re talk about – when you say the short week – you’re talking about moving from the emotion of the game you just played right into your preparation, and of course, you have got to be a pro about that because it is mental and you can’t leave a stone unturned.

I mean, you’re talking about a divisional game. So, you know, we have a tendency here to adjust, midstream adjust to whatever we’re confronted with, so here we go.”

Coughlin was asked about the fairness of having the players play on Thursday coming off a Sunday game: “I read what you read and I know the speculation and I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. It’s not easy and perhaps they are guys that could have made the game, if it was Sunday could make it, maybe.

That might be the case, but nevertheless to speculate or discuss for us is really a waste of time because the game is going to be played Thursday night.”

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is looking forward to playing on Thursday night: “I’m excited for it, man. It’s not often we get this Thursday opportunity, but I’m as excited as you guys are, that’s for sure.”

Kirk Cousins

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins discussed his performance last game against the Eagles: “I thought we did a lot of good things. I liked that we put up a lot of points, put up a lot of yards, made a lot of plays, didn’t take any sacks.

At the same time, you don’t like the turnover, you don’t like how we finished in crunch time, how I finished in crunch time.

But, we’ll learn from it and get better. The key is when you go through those experiences is to try to make sure when you get in situations in the future like that, you don’t let them happen again.”

Cousins was asked if the Eagles defense made him uncomfortable: “No, I don’t think so. I think any time you move the ball as much as we did and make as many big plays as we did, I don’t think they made us too uncomfortable.

But, certainly there were a couple plays here and there where if you could have them back, you wish you could do them over again.”

Cousins spoke about what he learned from the late game, pressure situation he faced against the Eagles: “I think more than anything it just takes good preparation, good attention to detail and just having a good understanding of where guys are going to be and where you need to be and the timing of plays.

Like I said, I haven’t gone through that experience now. Now I’ve been there before and get a better understanding of plays, coverages, protections, fronts, pocket movements – all the stuff that makes up a great quarterback.”

Cousins would like to have any of his three incompletions on the Redskins’ final drive back: “I think all three just because all three of them probably could have put us in field goal range and probably would have been able to move the chains. All three in different ways frustrate you and make you say, ‘Ah, I missed it.’

The key now going forward is to learn from it, prepare very hard, hammer the details so that when you get into those situations again, you get the result you want.”

Cousins thinks his experience facing the Giants late last season will help him Thursday night. “I think it gives us confidence, gives me good experience that is very valuable. I keep going back to the experience I gained this past week and how it’ll help me going forward, having played the last three games last year is a very similar theme. The experience is going to help.

Is it going to make all the difference? I don’t know. It definitely will give me confidence, and hopefully it can help us get a win.”

Cousins discussed his comfort level with Gruden’s offense: “Yeah, I think part of a comfort zone or what makes you at ease is if you’ve done it before. You’ve been there. It’s familiar. The fact that there was a lot of carryover in our run game and in our pass game from the last system to this system right off the bat gives us a familiarity and a comfort level with what Jay [Gruden] wants.

Now, as I said through training camp, the changes that Jay has made have I think been for the better. They’ve been good changes. So while I may have to do something a little differently or make an adjustment, you can see why it’s a good adjustment – it’s going to make us better.

So, I’m still picking up every week learning what he wants, and that’ll continue as long as I play for him. But, the longer we work together, the better we’re going to get, and the more we’re going to find ourselves on the same page.”

Cousins was asked about the adjustments Gruden has made in his offense: “I think when you look at protections, I think he has some good ideas with protections and being able to pick up different pressures.

And [you] always give yourself a chance then to get the first down or get the big play.”

Cousins was asked to differentiate whether there were more or less options on third-and-short than previous offenses he played under: “I’d say that it’s only been three weeks, so it’s not a lot of body of work to be able to say if we are more variable on third down and short than we were in the past.

I think that Jay is an outstanding play-caller and he does a really good job of keeping defenses on their toes and always giving me as a quarterback and us as an offense a chance to be successful.

Hopefully that is going to show itself in having a lot of variety on third-and-short, but at the same time a lot of the teams who are very vanilla on third down, hey, if you can just line up and everyone knows where it is going and still get the first down, those are usually the best teams.

It is when you have to get all creative and wacky on third down that you’re probably saying that you don’t have the personnel to move the chains. So being vanilla isn’t the worst thing as long as you are moving the chains.”

Cousins was asked if he was comfortable enough as a quarterback to express himself as a team leader: “That’s a great question. It is a tough dynamic to fully answer. I think that as a quarterback, if there is any doubt in the other 10 guys in the huddle looking at me that ‘Can this guy get it done for us? Can he move the ball?’ then I have already failed.

So when I say that this is Robert’s team, I do not mean that I can’t step in and have an authority and make sure we move the football. But I won’t change my statement that this is Robert’s team, I still stand by that.

I think that he was drafted high for a reason. He’s had success here, he’s done a lot of good things and he has done nothing to have that be any different.

So this is his team and it’s my job as a backup on this team to hopefully when he comes back, give him a team with a good record and put him in a good spot to have success down the stretch.

By no means does that say that I can’t go in there as a backup and hopefully get the job done.”

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin discussed preparing for Cousins: “Five-hundred yards and 45 points in two games, I mean he certainly is playing well and you have to give the coaching staff great credit for the midfield adjust, midstream adjust that they’ve had to go through as you go from one quarterback to the next. But obviously, they’re playing well.”

Asked which Redskins quarterback was more difficult to plan for between Cousins and Robert Griffin III, Coughlin said, “Both of them are outstanding players and difficult to prepare for.”

Giants offense

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden talked about Thursday night’s matchup against the New York Giants: “Anytime you play against Eli [Manning], you’re going to have yourself a battle. Victor Cruz, they got a very good offense there.

They’re introducing a new offensive scheme and usually that takes a little bit of time and you can see that they’re progressing at a pretty good clip right now. They started out a little bit slow in the preseason and now they’re starting to get familiar with the terminology, the hand signals and all that and they’re starting to gain confidence and momentum, which isn’t a good sign for the other teams.

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz discussed their transition at offensive coordinator from Kevin Gilbride to Ben McAdoo: “I feel good about it.  As anything, when you’re learning something new, it’s a work in progress. It’s about getting your bearings, getting comfortable as you go through the offense and things like that.

I think we’re hitting the point where we’re right on point, right on target with what we want to accomplish. We’ve just got to continue to put one foot in front of the other and get these victories under our belt to continue in the right direction.

But, I think we’re comfortable and obviously that win against Houston, hopefully it propels us in the right direction.”

Cruz talked about quarterback Eli Manning’s adjustment to McAdoo’s system: “I think the more and more practice time he gets, the more and more he sees the defenses and sees it on film and gets the live action, I think he’s getting more and more comfortable with this offense and feeling really good about what he can do.

Obviously it’s been a work in progress the first couple of weeks, but I think he’s getting his bearings and he’s getting confident now.”

Cruz spoke about how the Redskins’ loss of cornerback DeAngelo Hall would affect the Giants game plan: “I think it’s going to change a lot. I think he was such a stable guy that they revolved that style of defense around him being a ball-hawk and being so intuitive to where the quarterback is going to throw the football that he can really dictate the flow of the game.

I think losing him is a big blow. I hope he gets back as soon as possible with a speedy recovery. But that’s definitely a big blow for them.

We’ll see what changes but we’re going to prepare as if the guy that is coming in is going to play exactly like he does.”

Cruz talked about the potential matchup against Hall’s less-experienced replacement: “Obviously, that’s something that we look at and understand, but we need to stick to our keys and stick to our fundamentals and understand that guy — he’s got some talent as well. He wouldn’t be in the NFL if he didn’t have a little bit of talent.

But we have to understand that we need discipline and understand what we’re doing in order to compete and hopefully make some plays on him.”

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin discussed their newly found downhill running game with Rashad Jennings: “Well, it’s exciting. It was really exciting to see this come back to Giant football last weekend in terms of how the offensive line performed and how our tight ends and our fullbacks, etc., all contributed.

But, there were some outstanding effort runs by Rashad [Jennings] and that was something to see.”

On Jennings’s best attributes as a running back, Coughlin said, “To me, what I saw was a professional, a real professional who takes very good care of himself, the game is extremely important to him, very high priority, does all the things that he needs to do, takes care of his body very well, gets his rest, performs his training, his weight room training, etc. He catches the ball, he can pass protect, he obviously has had a very good game running the ball. So, this is what we thought we saw and we’re glad he is on our team.”

Cruz spoke about how Jennings’s running opens up the passing game, “It definitely loosens up a lot.  When he’s running the ball that way, you have no choice but to align an extra defender in the box to try to help out with the run. And that’s when play-action pass and things like that open up.

It definitely just helps the whole team, and I love blocking for a guy like Rashad, who runs hard, who runs physical. That’s something I don’t have a problem with and it’s something that definitely opens things up for other receivers.”

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Week Three loss to the Philadelphia Eagles

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 37-34 division opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles: [Read more...]

District Sports Page’s Washington Redskins Postgame Show: Week 3 vs. Eagles

Dave Nichols and Andy Holmes from District Sports Page discuss the Washington Redskins 37-34 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

Check Out Football Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with DSPs Redskins Radio Shows on BlogTalkRadio

Washington Redskins Game 3 Review: In barnburner, Redskins fall short in Philly

Despite a career day by Kirk Cousins, including 437 yards and three touchdowns, the Washington Redskins breakdowns on special teams cost them, as they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 37-34 on Sunday.

The Redskins had a kickoff returned against them for a touchdown and Kai Forbath — after hitting from 49- and 44-yards — missed a 33-yarder in the second half that turned out to be the margin of victory for Philly.

In addition to the loss in the standings, Washington also lost cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a possible Achilles tear. Veteran guard Shawn Lauvao and safety Duke Ihenacho were both injured and did not return. Also, NT Chris Baker was ejected for a late hit on quarterback Nick Foles, which led to a brawl along the Redskins sidelines. Eagles tackle Jason Peters was ejected as well.

Cousins was mostly terrific, completing 30 of 48 for 427 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception against. But on the last drive, trailing by three and time running out, he missed an open Pierre Garcon on fourth-and-10 that sealed the Eagles win.

Garcon had 11 catches for 138 yards and a touchdown and Desean Jackson, who was listed as questionable with the shoulder injury he sustained last week, caught five balls for 117 yards and an 81-yard scoring strike from Cousins.

 The Redskins came out blazing. An 11-play, 82-yard opening drive ended in Darrel Young’s third touchdown of the season. Unfortunately, Chris Polk returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards to tie.

Another long drive, 82 yards in 12 plays, resulted in Garcon’s 4-yard touchdown catch on the next possession.

Kai Forbath kicked field goals of 49-and 44-yard in the second quarter but the Eagles scored TDs instead, with Jordan Matthews catching a pair of 11-yard scores from Nick Foles, who finished the day 28 of 42 for 325 yards.

In the third, it was the Eagles that settled for field goals, with Cody Parker hitting from 38- and 33-yards while Jackson’s long bomb tied it at 27 at the end of the frame.

The fourth quarter was just as wild. Jeremy Maclin beat Brandon Meriweather clean for a 27-yard touchdown and Parkey made good from 51-yards after a Cousins interception, which looked to seal the win.

But the Redskins scored with 4:16 left, on a Roy Helu 1-yard carry, which was set up by a 55-yard screen pass-and-run by Helu down the left sidelines.

The Redskins held the Eagles to three-and-out and got the ball back, but a couple of short attempts fell incomplete and Cousins missed Garcon on the final play to end it.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, Baushaud Breeland appeared to have intercepted a Foles pass. He returned it and was tackled, but Baker leveled Foles right at the end of the play, starting a fracas. Eagles tackle Jason Peters defended his QB along the Redskins sidelines and both players were ejected for fighting.

Washington Redskins updates on Desean Jackson and Kirk Cousins first week as starter

DeSean Jackson injury update

Before DeSean Jackson’s highly anticipated return to Philadelphia, he is nursing a shoulder injury suffered in last week’s game against Jacksonville. Jackson updated his injury status, “My shoulder, you know, it’s the third day. The soreness went down a little bit, swelling went down as well too. Still in there [the training room] every day, trying to get it back to full strength and full motion.

It was just one of [those] situations where it was a fluke incident. I just kind of fell on my shoulder, just the impact of the ground and the guy falling on top of me was the biggest thing. Just irritating – to finish the game like that was just tough.”

Jackson fully expects to play on Sunday: “You know, I’m a very confidence person, regardless of an injury or not.

I pride myself on not missing any games and preparing myself any and every way I can to go out there and help my team. So, when it comes time for a game, I’m going to do everything I can to get myself prepared and ready.

Being able to get cleared through my trainers is more of what we’re waiting for to see if they’ll give me the OK, but I should be good to go come Sunday.”

On playing through the pain against the Eagles, Jackson said, “Honestly, I’m not jeopardizing or hurting my body more than it is. I wouldn’t be into doing that.

But at the same time, it’s not any broken bones, no torn ligaments or things like that, so at the end of the week we’ll see how it plays out. But, I don’t think an AC joint is jeopardizing my career in the long haul.

If it’s all on me, I’m playing. I don’t plan on missing this game.”

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed Jackson’s availability for Sunday: “I feel pretty good. A lot of these injuries I can be optimistic or not, it doesn’t really matter. It depends on how he feels, really, and whether or not he feels like he’s got full motion with the shoulder.

We’re not going to put him out there in any circumstance where he’s going to be playing in pain because that will take away from his style. He’s a reckless player, a fast player, and if he’s not 100 percent, he’s not worth being out there.

But he’s a tough kid and I think he’ll get right.”

Gruden elaborated further on Jackson’s preparation and treatment to get ready: “I think we’re just going to go day-to-day with it and see. I think tomorrow he’ll probably be limited, if anything.

The big thing is he’s getting his range of motion back and his strength.

We’ll see where he is, but I think Thursday I would be surprised if he practiced. Friday, I’m hoping he gets some reps and we’ll challenge him with some balls over his head, see if he can go up and get them, put the shoulder pads on him and see if he can bang around a little bit.

I’m hoping Friday, if he practices, then he’d be good to go, but we’ll see.”

Former Eagles teammate LeSean McCoy is expecting Jackson to play. “Oh man, I don’t need the coaches to tell me he’s going to play. I know him. I know what this game means to him, coming back here. I know what type of player he is. He’s always trying to make plays and be there for his teammates. So, I’m sure he’ll play this game. We’re scouting for him.”

DeSean Jackson impact

One of the reasons DeSean Jackson’s return to Philadelphia is so highly anticipated is that Jackson was the Eagles’ top playmaker at wide receiver.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said, “DeSean had a very productive year for us last year, obviously led the team in receptions. I think he’s obviously a very fast receiver, he’s got great ball skills, great hand-eye coordination, very, very productive player for us last year. We were just going in a different direction at the wide receiver position here and that’s what we decided to do.”

The Redskins signed Jackson envisioning him as a downfield weapon for quarterback Robert Griffin III to deploy alongside Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and Jordan Reed. But with Griffin’s dislocated ankle injury suffered last week against Jacksonville, Jackson will have to quickly establish a rapport with new starter Kirk Cousins.

Cousins said, “I haven’t done a lot of work with him because when DeSean’s on the field, Robert has been on the field.

That will be an emphasis in practice this week to make sure I get a good feel for ‘How fast is this guy really?’ But, in watching and seeing all the reps and the work I have done with him in individual, it is hard to overthrow him. And as a result, you want to make sure you get the ball up and down and let him go get it.

Guys like that, you just want to give them a chance to make plays and go do what they’re paid to do. You don’t want to be a deterrent or slow them down from being able to make our offenses as explosive as I think it’s capable of being.”

Cousins said, “He’s a talented player. I mean, one of the best receivers in the league and we’d be foolish not to try to get him the ball and give him an opportunity to make plays.

As a quarterback, when you stand in the huddle, when you break the huddle and go to the line of scrimmage, there are certain guys that just make you feel better in tough situations and DeSean is certainly one of those guys. “

Redskins head coach Jay Gruden spoke about Jackson’s role in the offense: “He can run really fast [laughter]. He’s really fast and he’s really good after the catch, you know what I mean? He can catch and he’s not afraid of traffic whatsoever. So he can catch a short pass, turn them into big gains, and obviously he takes the top off a defense.

Even if he’s not catching the ball he’s opening it up for somebody else underneath.

Unfortunately against Houston, we weren’t able to use a lot of that stuff and then he got hurt against Jacksonville, so hopefully the next 13 games you’ll see a lot more of DeSean.”

Andy Dalton comparisons

The first comparison that is made with Kirk Cousins is to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton as a pocket passer developed under the tutelage of Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. Gruden was the Bengals offensive coordinator before taking the head coaching job in Washington.

Cousins spoke of his relationship with his coach: “Jay, first of all, having played the quarterback position and done it at the professional level, you trust him because he’s been there and he has been in your shoes. He has a lot for experience.

I watched him have a lot of success with Andy Dalton the last three seasons and I believe that if I just do what he tells me to do and stay patient, trust the process, keep working, good things are going to happen because he knows what he’s talking about and he has a proven track record.

So I fully trust him and really just want to do what he tells me and work really hard to make sure the development comes quickly.”

Gruden discussed his offensive philosophy and how it relates to Cousins: “It’s what I know. It’s where I come from. It’s the football that I’ve learned coming through the ranks, studying other teams from my brother and all that stuff. So the system hasn’t changed really from Robert Griffin to Kirk Cousins to Andy Dalton. We’re running a structured amount of plays and concepts that I like and know and we try to be different and have some variety but nothing’s really changing.

But he is a very similar guy to Andy. They both wear rubber rings on their ring finger, you know, but they’re quarterbacks. They’re drop-back quarterbacks and they’re both very good, competitive, smart players.

But Andy’s done it. Andy’s proven it. He’s won. He’s been the past three years in the row and played a lot of football. Kirk hasn’t had the reps that Andy’s had. Andy from Day 1 of training camp, he got every first-team rep. That’s not the case with Kirk.

So, he’s got to now take all these reps and fast forward to a game on Sunday and that’s easier said than done a lot.”

Cousins also emphasized the importance of Gruden’s retention of Sean McVay, the tight ends coach under former coach Mike Shanahan. McVay was promoted to offensive coordinator, even though Gruden has playcalling duties. “Yeah, I was thrilled to hear that Jay was hired and that Sean McVay was going to be the offensive coordinator. I felt like all things considered, it was probably the best possible scenario – selfishly – for me to have a coach who has proven success with a guy in Andy Dalton, who I would say is a similar player to me,” said Cousins.

Cousins continued, “The system didn’t have a whole lot of turnover from the previous systems, so we were able to keep some things the same.

And then the fact that Sean was able to be kept from the old staff, gave us a good communication in installing the offense to be able to say, ‘Here’s what we did last year and here’s what we’re doing now.’

I think it was a really good situation for me to come into. In this league, you’re only as good as the guys around you and that includes the head coach and the offensive coordinator and the guys calling plays.

So I feel very fortunate to have the receivers I have, the tight ends, the running backs and the offensive line, but then obviously also the coaches and the play callers. It makes a big difference as a quarterback.”

First week with Kirk Cousins as starter

Kirk Cousins is getting used to being the starter for the first time under Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden.

Cousins said, “I think it’s getting very comfortable with the game plan. The installs, the protections, any new concepts we’ve put in. You get introduced to them last night, this morning and it’s important to get as familiar as possible with them come Sunday morning.”

Cousins described the difference in the distribution of first team reps: “Well, when I’m the backup, I get many of the scout teams reps and I get none of the offensive reps.

Now, as a starter coming in, I will get all of the starter reps and I’ll get none of the scout team reps. So basically, it’ll go, when the defense is on the field getting their reps, Colt [McCoy] is the quarterback.

When the offense is on the field getting their reps, I’m the quarterback. So, a little bit of night and day. You completely leave the scout team and you completely move to the offense and that will certainly help come Sunday.”

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson talked about the adjustment from Robert Griffin III to Cousins: “I mean, the biggest thing is going out there and practicing. You have to go out there and get reps.

He has to see it, you have to go back into the film room and just make a judgment. It’s an overall judgment when you play this game. You have to see it. Football is a game where everything happens in front of your eyes. If you’re not able to see and not able to judge and just have that feeling of how things are going to turn out, this game is one of them games where it would be hard to be successful at.

He’s been playing the game for a long time. I’ve been playing the game for a long time, but we have a great feeling for going out there and adjusting on the run.

So the more and more we practice, the more and more reps we have to go out there and play preseason games, the beginning of the season, it got better.

Unfortunate he’s going to be down for a couple of weeks, but I feel comfortable in Kirk Cousins to come in and do a great job, as everybody saw he did on Sunday and just help this team win games. As long as the quarterback in huddle is being in control and making good reads and getting the ball out of his hands, it makes it that much harder on the defense and the defensive coordinator. We all feel Kirk can get the job done.”

Kirk Cousins expectations

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is trying to manage the expectations surrounding Kirk Cousins’s first start about Robert Griffin III’s dislocated ankle sidelined him indefinitely.

Gruden said, “We don’t expect him to go out and win the MVP next week or win a Super Bowl to prove he’s an upper-echelon quarterback right away. We do expect him to produce and play within the offense and not make mistakes and do what he’s supposed to do – handle the protections and play the position – because we feel like he’s good enough to play the position at a very high level.

Expectations? We expect him to be effective. He doesn’t have to throw for 450 yards and six touchdowns to be effective. He can manage the game, manage third downs, not turn the ball over, keep us in good field position and play the position. Good quarterbacks can play differently. It’s not all about stats all the time, so we feel good about where Kirk is, but we’ll see.”

Cousins was asked to compare this starting opportunity to finishing last season by starting the last three games for Mike Shanahan, who was on his way out of Washington. “Yeah, if we’re comparing last season the last three games to right now, certainly it’s different,” Cousins said.

“Much earlier in the season with a lot more to play for and I think that creates a heightened sense of urgency and anytime you play, you want to play well but certainly there is a lot of football to go and with a divisional opponent on the road, we really need to have good attention to detail and good focus this week in our preparation,” Cousins continued.

Cousins was asked what he gained from those three games last year: “I think first of all I gained a lot of confidence. I think when you start three games in a row that’s an experience. That’s something that helped me have confidence now when I’m asked to go in against Jacksonville on Sunday.

So, you gain that confidence, that ‘been there, done that’ kind of feeling, and whether it was the close games we had against Atlanta or Dallas or the tough game in the rain against the Giants, you go through experiences that help you to say, ‘I’ve been there and I’ve done that.’

It’s hard to pinpoint any specific change or development. I think it’s just a gradual ability to continue to make better and better decisions and to continue to manage the game at a higher level that the longer I’m out there on the field, the better I’m going to get.”

Cousins was asked how this opportunity ranks given when it occurred in his NFL career: “It’s hard to rank them. I think every opportunity in the NFL is big. You’re being evaluated by so many people – your own team, your own coaches, your own front office, other teams, the media, friends and family back home are evaluating you.

So, every opportunity you get, you’re under a microscope, and it’s just important that you’re well-prepared each time you go out there and you know what you’re going to do and you don’t lay an egg. Rather than compare them, I just say each opportunity is very, very big.”

Gruden outlined the situation Cousins was working with: “I don’t know how the opportunity was last year. I’d like to think that this year I tried to lay it out very clear for Kirk coming in here that Robert was the starter and he was going to get all the starter reps and it was his job, and it was his job to be the No. 2 guy and take advantage of his reps when he got them in the preseason and in practice and he’s done that.

Now that Robert’s had the injury, it’s his job and we’ll cater to what he does, but he’s been nothing but a pro with the whole process of this ordeal and I think he’ll be ready. Time will tell.

He got some good looks, the running game was very effective against Jacksonville. We’ll see how he does in some key third down situations when the game’s tight or if we’re trailing. There’s a lot of circumstances in a football game that can really determine how a quarterback will be with the pressure. We’ll see, but we have obviously high hopes for Kirk and I know the team does.”

Kirk Cousins playing style

With the injury to Robert Griffin III, the Washington Redskins turn to a more traditional, dropback passer in Kirk Cousins.

Cousins described the adjustments Gruden made with RG3 out injured: “You know, I think if anything, we thought the zone read was going to be really good. With Robert going out, we didn’t execute quite as often or at all against Jacksonville. So if there was any change, it was probably for the worst that we didn’t have that at our disposal as much when I was in.

Other than that, the playbook stayed entirely the same and felt like the full menu of plays that would be there for Robert were there for me. It’s just a matter of executing.”

Cousins talked about the rapport he was building with his receivers: “You’re certainly going to develop greater chemistry, greater rapport the more you play with them, the more reps you get with them. So, if I were to play for four, five or six weeks, you know, Week 6 we’re going to be on a much better level than we are Week 1.

But that being said, I do feel comfortable. I feel like this is a system that mirrors a lot of what I’ve done in the past. Like I said, I trust Coach Gruden. I understand where he’s coming from and we have a lot of talented playmakers on the field. You saw a lot of guys catch the football last Sunday. It’s just a matter of me managing the game and getting the football in the right guy’s hands to let them go make plays.”

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talked about game planning for Cousins: “I don’t think when you look at what Jay [Gruden] is doing offensively that they change very much when Kirk came in. I think he’s got a great command of Jay’s West Coast system. Obviously [he] did an outstanding job in the game against the Jaguars, so I think it didn’t seem like they missed a beat very much in terms of what they were trying to do in that last game.”

Kelly discussed Cousins’s status as the Redskins starter: “I don’t think you have backup quarterbacks in this league anymore with the amount that the No. 1 guys get banged up.

Kirk’s got a lot of snaps. I don’t know the exact number that he’s started. I know he started the last part of the season last year there.

He was a pretty high draft pick anyway at the quarterback spot. I think it was pretty smart of what they did in the past to make sure they get them both in the same class because they’re both outstanding quarterbacks.

Last year we had Mike Vick and Nick Foles and we had to play them both. We actually played three quarterbacks last season here in Mike and Nick and then Matt Barkley played against the Giants and against the Cowboys.

I think you need – and I said it all along – you need to have at least two quarterbacks in this league just because of how tough it is to play that position.

So we don’t look at Cousins as a backup quarterback. We look at him as the starting quarterback, and I think Jay will probably tell you the same thing – fortunately for them they have two really good ones in RGIII and Cousins.”

Cousins described his best attributes as a quarterback: “For me, it’s always going to come down to decision making. If I’m not making good decisions and knowing where to go with the football, I’m not going to play in this league very long.

Just avoiding negative plays – sacks, interceptions. I have to keep us ahead of the chains, keep us out of third-and-longs. If you’re consistently in third-and-long and consistently punting the football, you’re putting your defense in a tough spot and you’re not giving yourself a chance on offense to get your whole playbook going.

So, it’s a matter of staying positive on first and second down, staying out of long-yardage situations, and when you do that, you find yourself always in the fourth quarter having a chance to come down and win it.”

Cousins emphasizes minimizing turnovers: “Protection of the football is one of those areas that is just critical to winning and critical to having a successful team over the long run. As a quarterback, the ball is in your hand almost every play, if not every play. So, taking care of the football will be an emphasis of Coach Gruden to all the quarterbacks for as long as he’s here and as long as I’m playing I’ll always try to protect it.

That being said, you’re going to have turnovers. The best quarterbacks in the league are going to average an interception a game. If you finish the year with 16 picks, you’re probably going to lead the league in terms of fewest interceptions thrown. It’s part of playing the position. If you’re going to make some great throws and hit some big time third down completions, you’re going to have to at the same time throw some picks too.

So, you take the good with the bad, but certainly if we protect the football with the defense we have, we’re always going to have a good chance at the end of the game to win.”

Cousins described his huddle demeanor: “Without going into too much detail, I just say that I have a laser focus, I’m an intense guy, and sometimes I like to make fun of myself too and kind of play jokes on that as well about how intense I am.

It’s always a balance of making sure you’re locked in and focused, but also that you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself or forgetting to be light-hearted and have fun at the same time because it is a game.”

Cousins discussed his experience in pressure situations: “Well, I think in that sense just the pressure, the expectations, whatever you want to call it, it’s nothing new. We’ve played college football on a big stage and started NFL games and been a part of NFL teams in big games.

All that being said, this isn’t something brand new that we need to make a big deal of. We’re going on the road, we’re playing a great football team, a team that 2-0, leading our division, and we need to have a great week of practice to be ready to play them.”

Informed of Kelly’s comments about him as a quarterback, Cousins said, “Yeah, I think I’m always going to try make sure my command of this offense is as strong as it can be. You know, I’m not 6-5. I don’t run a 4.3. I don’t have an arm that can throw at 90 yards.

So, if I don’t have good command and if I’m not making good decisions and if I’m not doing a great job of managing the game, then I’m not going to be playing in this league very long. So, the focus for me has to be having a good command, making great decisions, knowing where to go with the football. Sometimes that’s taking a sack, sometimes that’s throwing it out of bounds, but always giving us a chance to win the game at the end.”

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