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Need to Know: Cousins talks of Redskins’ need for ‘sustained success’

May 27, 2016, 5:22 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 27, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.


—The Redskins last played a game 138 days ago. It will be 108 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 62; Preseason opener @ Falcons 76; Final roster cut 99

Hot topic—Cousins says emphasis is on sustained success

Kirk Cousins had a good 2015 season. So did Jordan Reed and several other players. But according to Cousins, they really don’t have much to celebrate, no laurels to rest on. That’s because success in the NFL is not measure over one season, it’s measured over the course of several seasons.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Cousins was asked about Reed’s 2015 season and the quarterback pointed out that Reed set the Redskins record for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. But they need to do more than that.

“It is hard to build on [Reed’s season] but, I think what we are talking about a little bit is sustained success,” he said. “I think the last time the Redskins won back to back division titles was the early to mid-80s so we would love to be able to develop sustained success where it is not just a one year flash in the pan and I think that is the challenge and message not just to Jordan but a lot of people.

“We had a great year, can you be a pro where you do it again and then again and then again and again and again and that’s what the great players do in this league and that’s what the great organizations are expected to do and that’s what we are trying to work towards and are by no means there yet but, that’s the goal. Does he have to improve a lot? He was pretty good last year. I think the goal is to do it consistently, year in year out.”

Cousins’ history was dead on target. The organization has tended to get self-congratulatory after even modestly successful seasons. But year-to-year improvement doesn’t happen automatically in the NFL. It not only takes the addition of some talent to replace the inevitable holes that result from roster turnover, the players who perform well have to take another step up or at least maintain what they did the previous season.

It’s good to hear that Cousins, who is emerging as the team leader that a quarterback needs to be. And Jay Gruden has talked about a one and done season not really being anything to brag about. But words in May are just words. There will be more talk about the challenge of being a consistent contender between now and the start of the season on September 12.

That will be the time for the players and coaches to put their money where their mouths are.

In case you missed it 

  1. redskins12thman - May 27, 2016 at 6:21 AM

    I agree with your point about the team needing to be a consistent contender and this will require a step up and not a repeat in performance.

    It’s really sad to think that consecutive division titles was over 30 years ago. As great as it was for the Redskins to win the division last season (after finishing last in the division 6 of the past 8 seasons), they were not in any games against teams that ended last season with a winning record. To be a consistent contender, the Redskins need to find ways to at least be within a touchdown when they are playing the better teams in the league. If they can keep games tight against better teams, they may be able to pull out some wins against them, and that would be an improvement.

    As you point out, “the players who perform well have to take another step up.” Still, I hope all players are not too caught up in individual accolades. With as many pass catching options available and an improved running attack, individual receiving totals could dip from last season; if the ball is spread around, the team runs more effectively and the defense improves, I believe the results will be better for the Redskins even if the number of catches and / or touchdowns for any individual receiver dips.

    I’m a great admirer of Kirk Cousins’ season ownership and approach. I do hope, however, that the team sets its heights a little higher this season; not just repeat as division champions but to win a number of games against teams with winning records and to advance as far in the playoffs as they can.

    • bangkokben - May 27, 2016 at 10:26 AM

      Losing to teams that ended a season with a winning record is a stupid ridiculous outlier! The Redskins were (0-3) and one of those games was without Desean Jackson, Jordan Reed, and Trent Williams — arguably their three best offensive players. How much can you really extrapolate from three games?

      Further more, in 2014, the Redskins won FOUR games. Of those four games two were against teams with winning records (Dallas 12-4 and Philly 10-6). In 2013, the Redskins won THREE games — one against the 9-7 San Diego Chargers.

      Before that bit of ridiculosity was the bit of not being able to win on the road. Remember the road losing streak? The Redskins finished the season 3-5 in games on the road, winning the last three. There was also the 3rd quarter woes era. These are MEANINGLESS trends that the fans and media make out to be more than they are.

      For Redskin fans that have bought into this bogus concept, there should be a ray of solace since

      The Redskins only play six games against teams that finished 2015 with winning records and that is the same number of games at this point last year. In THOSE six games, the Redskins were 4-2.

      • redskins12thman - May 27, 2016 at 11:02 AM

        All teams face injuries and must be able to overcome them. Next man up. That’s why Scot continues to strengthen the entire roster (53 + 10)

        It wasn’t that they just lost all four games; it was that they lost by 14, 17, 17 and 28 points. They were not in the games. While three were on the road, the games have to be closer. I don’t expect all wins.

        I’m very, very happy the Redskins made the playoffs and first quarter was fantastic; but giving up 17 unanswered points hurt. Then, Redskins couldn’t stop Green Bay offense and no scoring after opening drive of 2nd half. Jackson, Reed and Williams were all present.

        • John - May 27, 2016 at 1:27 PM

          After Green Bay started scoring, it was all over. The defense disappeared much like the second half of the Jets game. At some point the defense has to contribute.

          The Patriots and Panthers were head and shoulders above the Skins last year.

          At least they have the right mindset. Hero to Zero and back…

        • bangkokben - May 27, 2016 at 2:43 PM

          My point is that it was a four game sample — if you include the playoff game. There’s ZERO reason to expect that to continue. Should they be more competitive against the top teams? Yes. This year they should be. You can’t run before you walk and shouldn’t be expected to do so. The Redskins WON two games more last year than the two years previous combined. Now they can walk. Before they could barely sit up.

      • Trey Gregory - May 28, 2016 at 3:25 AM

        I’m so sick of hearing that “didn’t beat a team over .500” argument too. It’s so absurd, flawed, and irrelevant but people keep repeating it. Because they heard it from someone else and they don’t know how to evaluate any deeper than that. If they can’t see that atgument’s flaws at this point, they never will.

        It’s as equally ridiculous as claiming the Redskins were great because they won the division with a 9-7 record. Teams with 9-7 records also didn’t make the playoffs last year. The headline is that they won 9 games after only 7 the last two seasons combined. Sustained success isn’t built overnight. It starts with positive steps, sometimes small, in the right direction. Washington took multiple steps in the right direction last year. Maybe even a leap, but they’re not quite there yet. And that’s what’s causing this ridiculous argument.

        They were a 9-7 team guys. It’s really that simple. Not bad, not great. But there’s a lot to be happy and excited about because 9-7 is a trend up. And they appear to have executed another good offseason that will allow them to continue moving forward. I’m excited because of the progress both last season and this offseason. Not beating a .500 team has nothing to do with that. Get over it people.

        • redskins12thman - May 28, 2016 at 9:47 AM

          Being able to beat teams with a winning percentage and win the games they are “supposed to win” is the challenge before the Redskins team. It’s something they must do to reach the next level. It’s on point, accurate and essential. It’s what separates the contenders from the pretenders.

          Good executives can turn around NFL franchises quickly and that’s what Scot has started to do and, as you say, gotten the fan base excited again. This is clearly in sight for this year’s team. We will see if the coaching staff is up to the challenge.

  2. colorofmyskinz - May 27, 2016 at 6:21 AM

    Really glad he sees the need for long term success. Now we need to lock up longterm many more that think that way.

    Cousins will not be a flash in the pan. This year will look much different than start last season. With him have the starting reps from day on offseason workouts will be huge for him.

    Time to work and not talk. HTTR!!

  3. garg8050 - May 27, 2016 at 6:46 AM

    Sustained success is definitely the goal. Teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Packers, etc., are consistent winners. They have stability within the organization and at the QB position. I think that’s the blueprint.

    On a side note, the biggest concern I have with Cousins not having a long-term deal is how it might affect his decision making during games. There were times last season, with the team down late in the game, he opted to make the safe play, throw the check down and punt, as opposed to forcing the ball down the field and taking a chance. Down by 10 with six minutes to play, I hope he’s willing to take those chances and isn’t worried about possibly throwing an interception. I’m really just talking about late game, do-or-die situations. Hopefully he’s confident and secure enough in his role that he’ll take those chances. He has to be willing to do that for the team to take the next step.

    • bangkokben - May 27, 2016 at 10:29 AM

      I think the situation you outlined is part of a young quarterback’s learning process. It’s been so ingrained to not force things that he has to understand situationally when are the exceptions.

    • John - May 27, 2016 at 1:36 PM

      Everyone wants him to throw deep. A wing and a prayer and a waste of a play. At that point in a game, any D coordinator with a lead and a brain will set up to take away Jackson (Crowder, Garcon, Ross and Grant are not “deep threats”) and force them to work it down the field in multiple play drives, eating up clock and the potential of a turnover. Sure, the D gives up ground but they don’t give up the big play. But let’s complain and say he should do it any way because…

      • bangkokben - May 27, 2016 at 3:16 PM

        John, That’s not the point. It’s about the times when the game was already lost unless the offense makes a play. It’s not about just chuck it deep and see what happens. It’s about seeing a one-on-one match-up and giving your receiver a chance to make a play on the ball if it get’s you a first down on 3rd and 16 instead of just taking what the defense gives you and making the five yards. Normally the five yards is the smart play and play he has to make but when you’re down by two scores in the fourth quarter there are exceptions.

        • kenlinkins - May 27, 2016 at 3:56 PM

          I have to agree here, IMO it seemed that Cousins was still trying to show that he knew the “smart” play and correct read to make even late in games when risk is higher but called for (he seemed to believe that losing buy 3 is better than losing by 14 and he seemed more concerned with INT % and Sack totals against). It is what a young QB does before he knows that he doesn’t have to win every game in order to start next week or keep the coach out of his hair. It is in fact part of the learning process a young “Starting” QB must work thru. I would give him a pass to date, but would really like to see him attack more when trying to turn around a game (even very late in games when down by 14) and not to give into stat building or being the QB with proving he knows “correct read” on a given play (when in fact the correct read is to gamble, force, hope for luck and die trying). If you can gain a win or two here and there, you get the label dangerous, and that is what a defense fears (and your WR TE love).

        • John - May 27, 2016 at 6:45 PM

          Yeah but at that point if your down 2 scores with limited time, your not going to get those 1 on 1 shots as the defense will be in zone to take those deep balls away. Most likely to be picked off or wasted play (drop). You pick your spots based on what you can do, not what you can’t do.

        • bangkokben - May 28, 2016 at 1:32 PM

          You’re losing the forest through the trees, there are times to take risk and Cousins NEEDS to learn when these times are. That’s part of his development. He isn’t a finished product including decision making.

          The original debate was what motivates Cousins’ decisions in “do-or-die” situations. garg8050 thought his contract situation might influence them this season. Ken and I think it’s part of his development. You apparently hadn’t noticed what we saw.

          Take the Carolina game. Redskins lose 44-16 but were tied at one point 14-14 before Carolina scored the last 32 points — including having their punter run around in the back of the endzone in the waning seconds. The Redskins’ defense was pathetic but Cousins’ didn’t take chances with the game out of reach. Say what you will about the Carolina defense not giving opportunities but that simply wasn’t true.

          Four weeks later, the New York Giants faced the Panthers in similar circumstances up 28 points with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third and came back to tie the game before losing on a last second FG.

          Listen to minutes 5:00 through 8:00 to Cooley’s take:

        • kenlinkins - May 27, 2016 at 7:36 PM

          Football, as in Boxing and Baseball, If you are still swing hard you are dangerous. IMO Winning is the only stat that matters.

        • John - May 28, 2016 at 4:01 PM

          I agree in the young QB develooment. I was preaching to the choir on this last season, when everyone was whining about Cousins. It takes 2-3 seasons for a QB to really be comfortable.

          You don’t get the point,. With our vaunted steel curtain, monsters of the midway, doomsday, fearsome foursome defense. Oh wait, our defense sucked for the most part. So let’s take chances, throw picks and let the other team score again or salt the game away. I remember so many times when Brett Farve used to wing it in there and get picked multiple times in games and blow it for Green Bay. Gun slinging is for the old west…

        • bangkokben - May 28, 2016 at 10:37 PM

          Seriously? Who’s saying sling it without caution? We’re talking about when the game is already lost. If you’re down by 28 in the 3rd quarter with a defense incapable of helping the team out, how is throwing a pick hurting anyone? It’s about the situation. When it’s 3rd and 9 and everyone’s covered, IN THESE SITUATIONS, don’t hit the checkdown. Scramble for the first down or slide out of the pocket and try to buy the receivers time off schedule. Sure, it may take another year or two of seasoning and experience but that’s the kind of growth some of us want to see this year

        • Trey Gregory - May 29, 2016 at 4:17 AM

          I honestly think losing the forest for the trees would be having Cousins harm his development, for a lost game, instead of keeping the long-term plan in tact. Take care of the ball, make smart plays, give what the defense gives you: make a franchise QB who have the experience, confidence, meaningful snaps, and ability to win over the course of seasons. Not just one game. Forcing bad habits on Cousins against a team that was obviously light years ahead in development is short sighted.

          Say Cousins airs it out and throws multiple picks. The score gets completely out of control and all anyone can talk about is a 50 point blow out and Kirk Cousins’ regression back into an interception machine. That’s what it hurts. That doesn’t help anyone. A restless fan base already looking for any reason to kick coach and QB out of town now has ammo. This season was as much about proving to Cousins that he COULD go through games without interceptions as much as it was about winning games. Nobody expected these guys to win a division. It was year one of a rebuild. Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan weren’t expecting to see the playoffs. They were just trying to gather and develop talent for the future and some stuff happened to work out.

          But take a meaningless playoff game off the table and what did this team accomplish last year? A lot. They built confidence and comradery. They fostered a winning culture, with good habits, and high expectation of every player; including the young guys. That’s so much bigger than slinging the ball down 28 to a clearly superior team. I’m sorry but it just is.

          It’s the same thing as pulling the starting QB because he’s been sacked 9 times in a half even though you know he gives you the best chance to win. It’s protecting the franchise for the future. That’s why they played it so safe at times. But Cousins will continue to develop. And when he gets better, he will have more freedom to make those plays. All on schedule. Protecting his development. This is the exact opposite of what this franchise did with RG3 and we should be applauding them for doing better this time.

        • bangkokben - May 29, 2016 at 12:31 PM

          A couple of thoughts here:

          First) We are kind of discussing multiple timelines — the past and the immediate future (aka this present season). This present season, part of Cousins continuing development is to understand the SITUATIONS that REQUIRES the quarterback going off-schedule — not just the play breaking down — where if the QB doesn’t make a play that isn’t there, the team loses the game. I used the past to illustrate what kind of situation that might look like. Not to say, this is what he should’ve done but to show where in his development he is and where he needs to get to — at least make progress toward this season.

          Second) Fans are going to base their opinions on stats and results. Interceptions for example. Coaches don’t. They assess the quarterback on the decisions he makes on the field. They have the film and the knowledge of the play design, the reads, the protections, THE SITUATION, and ALL the other factors that influence the actual and alternative outcomes to any one play. So hitting Garcon for five yards on 3rd and two is a positive play but not necessarily gives Cousins the best marks if Crowder was wide open for a 30+ yard TD. Same goes for any time the QB hits the checkdown.

          Cousins is an excellent distributor of the ball when the play works and has shown some ability to make a play off schedule. The fact is that against the best teams, you’re going to have to go off schedule because the play was defended and the difference between winning and losing for the Redskins against the best teams may hinge on how the QB does on these plays. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THE QB HAS TO BE HERO ON 50% OF THE PLAYS. It simply is acknowledging the fact that there are times when the QB has to learn to be playmaker instead of a distributor. Just like playing point guard, sometimes you have to look for your shot.

    • John - May 27, 2016 at 1:42 PM

      As Sonny has always said, you take what the defense gives you.

    • Trey Gregory - May 28, 2016 at 3:35 AM

      Go back and watch the games again. Gruden and Cousins played it safe until they couldn’t anymore. But once their back was against the wall, they swung (like the DJax TD in the first Dallas game). Ironically, that swing left too much time on the clock and allowed Dallas enough time to score and win. A few check downs and a slow drive down the field would have killed the clock and allowed us to score last.

      But that’s kind of a side note. Every player is different. Different strengths and weaknesses. At time in the past, Cousins took too many chances and it ended in disaster. So, I think Gruden emphasized the importance of keeping the ball safe his season. As Bang said, it was a step in his development. He will get more comfortable, and Gruden will get more comfortable with him, and things will losen up. They showed flashes of it last year (I’m also reminded of the Tampa game) and I expect to see more this year. I’m not going to stress over my QB being extra cautious about not turning the ball over.

  4. bwhare1 - May 27, 2016 at 7:37 AM

    Cousins wasn’t off on his statement on back to back division championships. The last time the Redskins won the division in back to back years was 1983-1984.

    • Rich Tandler - May 27, 2016 at 8:35 AM

      Fixed, thanks. Was thinking playoff appearances, not division titles.

    • redskins12thman - May 27, 2016 at 8:59 AM

      We are due; the others in the division have eclipsed us:

      Giants (1989-1990 first in division) + 2 Super Bowls since 2007
      Cowboys (1992-1996) — 5 seasons in a row first in division + 3 Super Bowls since 1992
      Eagles (2001-2004) — 4 seasons in a row first in division

      It’s Redskins time now!

      • John - May 27, 2016 at 1:40 PM

        Dallas was loaded with talent back in the 90s. We’re not in that league at this point.

        The Giants, while being average at times got hot and have always had a tough defense, especially up front.

        Eagles were solid with Reid. Still tough but never all that considering the division opponents during that time.

      • Trey Gregory - May 28, 2016 at 3:41 AM

        Ha! I hear your wishful thinking and appreciate your optimism, but that’s all that is. It means nothing. I’ve been looking at the other NFC East teams more and more recently and I think this will be a bounce back year, maybe years, for the whole division. It’s about to be tough sledding. The Giants could be especially worrisome in 2016 if their free agents work out at all.

        I’m just worried about this team continuing to build a strong base and and becoming a talent producing machine. If they keep drafting and developing good talent then they’ll stay competitive and they will be able to strike when the time is right. But I wouldn’t count on the other 3 teams going into a lull anytime soon. There’s more parity in the league than ever.

        • John - May 29, 2016 at 9:45 PM

          In RG3s case, Shanahan had a plan to bring him along slowly via the pistol with read option, etc., as Robert was no where near bing ready to run a pro style offense (Gruden and Scott M knew that from the start) Unfortunately RG3 had a thin skin and could not handle having competition. He also had a problem with the change in the offense when Kirk started against Cleveland and didn’t run the 50 series. After the 2012 season he told Shanahan that he would not run the 50 series plays. Those read option plays were the key to the success of 2012. By walking away from that, Robert slit his own throat. If they don’t run something along those lines in Cleveland, it’s over with for him. Folks want to say RG3 was mishandled by the organization. He is just as much to blame as the coaches.

        • Trey Gregory - May 30, 2016 at 3:33 AM

          Oh man. That was a can of worms I didn’t mean to open. I feel like I could write an entire book on this subject.

          But let’s just say I agreed with everything you just said: it would still only be about 1/8 of the story. You excluded the special treatment, the anointment, the family access, the absurd amount of media availability, Snyder’s meddling, and the handling of his knee injury after Baltimore. Those are some important parts of the story.

          But I don’t agree with everything you said. RG3’s confidence was just fine (as in, with the competition) until he was injured and he lost the locker room.

          And the pistol/read option may have been the plan, but that doesn’t make it a good one. It doesn’t make it as good of a plan as not playing RG3 until he was ready. Or as good of a plan as giving RG3 a real NFL offense to execute, even if that meant losing games, so that he could begin to learn the actual skills he needed to succede in the NFL. That 2012 offense didn’t develop him, it stunted his growth. They chose immediate success over the long term. And they paid the price. Hind sight is 20/20 but you can’t support that now. We know how it worked out.

          RG3 didn’t begin to develop as an NFL QB until 2013, maybe 2014, and by then it was too late. Expectations were too high, damage was already done, too much time wasted. It was fun while it lasted. But I’ll take the slow and steady approach over a flash in the pan.

        • John - May 30, 2016 at 11:40 PM


          Regarding Shanahan and RG3, he’s said that RG3 was not his first choice would he have made the move to draft him. Being that they got him, it was out together an offense that would utilize his skill set and slowly bring him along or start Grossman and John Beck. If you read The Undefeated article, that backs me up on that and between that article and Chris Cooley, you’ll see where Robert was threatened by the presence of Cousins. I’d say his head got inflated by the success of 2012 and then all the other crap spilled over and turned the fans and locker room against him. As far as 2013 and 2014, there was no break improvement. Cleveland will find that out real soon. He may be in the NFL but he is no NFL QB.

  5. John - May 28, 2016 at 9:25 PM


    Listened to the clip but also listened during the season. They had their asses handed to them in that game. The defense was torched by Newton. The running game was a disaster 12 carries, 14 yards. A lot of the blocking by Carrier and Long was atrocious. Regardless who the QB is, in that game 28 down, you got nothing. Even if they had scored more, the Panthers would have kept scoring.

    The scene was the same against the Jets. The Jets were doing their best to give the game away in the 1st half. 3rd quarter the Skins offense was sleep walking and the Jets took off. The defense made Fitzpatrick an average at best QB look like a world beater.

    Against Green Bay, once Green Bay started scoring, the game was over. The defense after the first quarter fell apart. The Skins offense was fine except for Jackson not crossing the goal line in the corner of the end zone. That and the Packers defense outplayed the Skins offense

    Per Cooley, Kirk makes some really nice throws. If he goes off schedule he’s off target. Time will tell, if that improves. He has some mobility and can move in the pocket but to expect him to dip or backspin to avoid pressure, probably not. Also, some of the not so good stuff comes from frustration, when they are so far behind and a play just isn’t there.

  6. dafoota3 - May 29, 2016 at 3:58 PM

    I love cousins but I have this feeling that this is not going to end well for him. Washington has been known to ruin careers. I think either gruden is going to mess up somewhere, Snyder is goin to fire him, and the new coach is going to undervalue cousins in hopes for a change to prove his own value. Which lack of commitment has always been our biggest thorn in our being. We are too quick to make a drastic change instead of working it out. I hope this is not the case but there has been many hopeful times which ended in SMH and face palms. Archives

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