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Need to Know: Redskins’ Cousins looks for balance between fire and ice

Nov 5, 2015, 5:09 AM EDT

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 5, three days before the Redskins visit the New England Patriots.

Read and react

Here are some quotes from around Redskins Park on Wednesday and my thoughts on them.

Jason Hatcher on the importance of Sunday’s game and about the Redskins playing as big underdogs.

Every game’s a must-win. We intend to win around here. Every game you play is big. Every game is the most important game of your career. So every game to me is a must win . . . You’ve got to play. There’s grown men out there. You’ve got to play football, I don’t care who you are. Redskins, 14-point underdogs, you’ve got to play.

Reaction: What a lot of fans and media types don’t get is that all games are important to the players and they sincerely believe they have a good chance of winning every time they take the field. They work all their lives to get to the NFL, work countless hours in the offseason and in training camp and during the season to be able to do what they love to do 16 times a year. That’s not very many opportunities. In the latter part, he’s saying that no matter what the public might think, the Patriots will have to play well to beat them. Unfortunately, Bill Belichick’s guy’s almost always do.

Kirk Cousins on balancing the fire he showed in the “You like that!” video clip with the need to be calm in the huddle:

Finding that balance is important. I think that’s a constant learning process as I play to say, ‘OK, where do I operate best?’ It talked experience and time. There’s a level of wanting to bring that fire and passion because hopefully it can raise the level of play of the guys around you, too. Then also you want to stay poised and stay collected, operate like a CEO.

Reaction: The viral video from after the Bucs win was not the first time that Cousins has shown emotion in the tunnel. The CSN cameras are there after every game and have captured him letting off some steam before. It hard, especially for a quarterback, to find that balance. A defensive lineman can be a screaming maniac as soon as the huddle breaks and after the play. The quarterback needs to stay in command and start thinking about the next play as soon as the whistle blows. It’s a constant battle.

Jay Gruden on DE Chris Baker’s solid season so far:

“I think he’s been our most disruptive lineman, which is good. He’s been good in the pass rush, and obviously in the run game he gets great penetration. The great challenge for him is can he do it on a consistent basis? I tell all our guys, you take one play off against these guys, man, and you’ll be trying to get ready to block the extra point . . . Chris has done an outstanding job of that so far. We need it more consistent to move forward.”

Reaction: Frequently when a veteran player improves from one year to another, it’s not because he discovered something new or because he all of a sudden gained abilities at age 28 that he didn’t have at age 27. His play improves because he becomes more consistent. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of work on details and tremendous focus. I haven’t always been convinced that Baker gets it. He didn’t always seem to take things seriously enough. It appears that he does now.

DeAngelo Hall on what makes the Patriots so successful.

I just think they know who they are and are comfortable in their skin. I think they just bring in guys who fit what they want them to do. Whether that’s getting another tight end in Chandler from Buffalo. With Hernandez and Gronk they had two, they were able to run or pass out of any formation. They kind of have that same thing now. Having Kevin Faulk, kind of a scat back, then Shane Vereen the last couple of year, they go find Dion Lewis, he kind of does the same thing, maybe even better . . . I just think they’ve done a good job of knowing who they are.

Reaction: The Patriots are reaping the fruits of stability. Bill Belichick is in his 16th season there and with control over personnel he has had the opportunity to build the team and then replace players as they leave as free agents, get injured, or just become ineffective. This is every GM’s dream and what Scot McCloughan wants to accomplish with the Redskins. But it takes time. Oh, and getting lucky with a sixth round pick and getting a Hall of Fame quarterback doesn’t hurt, either.


Today’s schedule: Practice 11:35; Jay Gruden and Joe Barry news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Redskins @ Patriots 3; Saints @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Panthers 17

In case you missed it

  1. JOHNNY B - Nov 5, 2015 at 5:30 AM

    It will take a complete team effort to win this game. Something that I don’t fully think that they have yet. The mind set of doing what I can for the team has been lost with the Redskins for a while. It is getting better but still has a way to go. There’s still a few players that do it for themselves in which they don’t play their best. So looking forward to Sunday supporting the Redskins like any die hard fan would do. By the way would you think that London Fletcher would make a good linebacker coach? Just wondering.

    • mjthomas85 - Nov 5, 2015 at 9:01 AM

      London Fletcher succeeding as a position coach is really a 50/50 deal. Some players transition well from the player to leader/teacher role while others do not.

      Based on some of the comments he made about changing plays in the huddle that Haslett gave him makes me question his ability to work as a coach. It shows that he second guesses those that he is supposed to listen to. What’s more, if it is true that he changed calls, then he failed as a coordinator as much as Haslett.

  2. colorofmyskinz - Nov 5, 2015 at 6:18 AM

    Does a great player make a great coach? How many PGA teaching pros do you know that have competed at a high level on tour? Not many. How many PGA tour pros make good teaching pros? Not many. Just because a person plays at a high level does not mean they would make a great coach. Most often they are not. There are too many examples. The reverse. Phil Jackson. Was not the best NBA play but best coach. Coaching takes masterful communication skills, ability to make the complex simple, and ability to ask good questions so people can solve there own problems. Completely different skill set than doing the actual activity. So Fletcher. Never seen him in a coaching role to know. But just because he played well does not qualify him. Just my opinion.

    Good luck this weekend skins fans. Gonna be a tough game. Could be the total blowout many expect, or we may be blessed with a blowout. Would be great but not counting on it. HTTR

    • john - Nov 5, 2015 at 12:53 PM

      Great coaches were usually average players at best. Joe Gibbs came up through the ranks working for Don Coryell. He and his fellow coaches were students and teachers of the game.
      The thing they did real well was to emphasize the strengths and hide the weaknesses of their players. They started out by throwing the ball like crazy in 1981 and after the first 5 games of huge stats and no wins, they changed from a passing team to a running team. The lacked a true blocking fullback but had versatile blocking tight ends who were bigger blockers and better receivers than a fullback and moved them around and put them in motion, creating the “HBack”. Richie Petitbon used situational substitutions to put the right players on the field for various situations. Sometimes he stopped the other teams with smoke and mirrors, when he lacked the players.

      There are several great coaches that were not so hot in the pros. Don Shula (takes a team to the Superbiwl with David Woodley and a weak defense – how did that happen?).

      You still have to have talent on your team, its how you get the pieces to work together and how they make the most with the least.

  3. troylok - Nov 5, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    Bellichick knows football better than anyone. He knows the right thing to do in every situation. How you beat him is with the unexpected. Pass when you should run. Run when you should pass. Running back option plays. Shotgun draws. Five wide-outs on first down.

    Ah, who am I fooling? Gruden is too conservative. Just run it up the middle, Jay.

    • mjthomas85 - Nov 5, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      I don’t know if doing the unexpected is the only way to beat the Patriots. It seems like the teams that beat them, or come close to beating them, do it with really good fundamentals. Tom Brady is arguably the best QB ever. However, the thing that makes the team so competitive is all around solid fundamentals with a few twists added into the mix. Like others have said, “it’s the next man up mentality that makes them so competitive”.

      To beat the Patriots you need to:
      1. Hit the QB
      2. Play solid coverage
      3. Stop the run
      4. Put up around 30 points
      5. Avoid three-and-outs as much as possible
      6. Avoid giving up big plays as much as possible
      * Clearly, this is easier said than done.

      • politicallyincorrect - Nov 6, 2015 at 1:40 PM

        I believe passing the ball down field is also important… sadly, with Cousins, we don’t even try anymore

        we are essentially playing w/o a QB

    • sidepull - Nov 5, 2015 at 10:12 AM

      Belichick can identify any predictability and flaws in opposing teams tendencies. Exposing them and then taking away their primary go to usually works for them.

      Gruden is not going to out coach Belichick. There are coaches like Harbaugh, Pagano, Rex Ryan, that he just lives rent free in their heads. They try to get cute and it always backfires. Just like in the Superbowl, when everybody was expecting Beast Mode to run the ball, Carroll did some okey doke. Browner was prepared and then put a body on the receiver and let his teammate set for the pick. They are ready for anything. So its like you say, a team has to execute, be sound fundamentally, and not get cute.

    • bangkokben - Nov 5, 2015 at 11:26 AM

      Running up the middle would be a change. It is usually stretch left or stretch right on 1st down. Then we’re in 2nd and 8-12. I’ll take three yards up the middle. Then again, with LeRibeus in there it isn’t surprising that we aren’t going up the middle. Forget the run. Pass it 50 times.

  4. Skulb - Nov 5, 2015 at 1:35 PM

    Btw balance between fire and ice is steam I think.

    • bangkokben - Nov 5, 2015 at 1:57 PM

      All this fire and ice chatter and I can’t get the Game of Thrones theme music out of my head. Jon Snow? Not dead? How? I’ve already said too much.

      • Skulb - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:50 PM

        He´´ll be resurrected somehow I´m sure. Anyway I now have that music on my brain and visions of Kirk in a sauna while throwing the football…
        I need a liedown.

      • skinsgame - Nov 6, 2015 at 4:18 AM

        I have the annoying Pat Benatar song stuck now. Thanks.

  5. kenlinkins - Nov 5, 2015 at 3:51 PM

    Yes, I still think the Redskins will win on Sunday, Yes I understand that if you run the numbers the Redskins only have about a 15% chance of winning but I still believe that “On any given Sunday”. New England lost 4 games in 2014 before running the play off table and winning the Super Bowl (which could have just as easy become their 5 lost). The bad news is that all the teams that beat them had winning records in 2014 and they only lost one time at home, the good news is that 3 of the 4 didn’t make the play-offs. While I agree that there is no good debate or stats I can use to make a great case for the Redskins winning, I still just have this feeling it is the Redskins turn to get a lucky break or to have the team show up and play over their heads. So here is to the Redskins winning this Sunday and no good reasons to try and prove my point.

    • bangkokben - Nov 5, 2015 at 4:22 PM

      So let it be written…let it be done.

    • warpath1 - Nov 5, 2015 at 5:43 PM

      ill drink to that!!! HTTR

  6. politicallyincorrect - Nov 6, 2015 at 1:37 PM

    hope we win… but prime goal is taking steps to move forward….. firing Gruden and getting rid of his lapdog Cousins is very important… the longer we put up with this crap the longer we delay progress

    40ys Skinfan… I am embarrassed having Cousins and Gruden repping my team


    • Rich Tandler - Nov 6, 2015 at 2:50 PM

      Yep, hey, firing the coach has worked out so well in the past. Two years is plenty of time to fix the disaster that the Redskins were. Archives

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