Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay this week said he hopes to see free-agent-to-be quarterback
As they continue to decompress from a roller coaster 2015 season – one that included an NFC East title but ended prematurely with a first-round exit in the playoffs – the Washington Redskins’ coaches can’t help but set their sights on the possibilities that lay ahead in 2016.
Perhaps the most important personnel decision the Redskins need to make in the next few weeks is at the quarterback position, where Kirk Cousins – who is coming off a career year – is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins at 4 p.m. ET March 9.
Will the Redskins and Cousins come to terms on a new long-term deal by then? Will the team decide to instead use its franchise tag on the Michigan State product, a decision it must make by 4 p.m. ET March 1? Or will Cousins be allowed to test the open market in a quarterback-starved league?
These are all questions that are going through the mind of Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay. But, like others in the organization, McVay is confident that, one way or another, No. 8 will be back in the burgundy and gold in 2016.
“We’re just kind of getting back into the flow of things, but you trust that the powers that be are going to do the things necessary to put the best eleven out there for us next year,” McVay said this week in an appearance on “Redskins Nation.” “We know Kirk is a very valuable part of what we’re doing and what we hope to do going forward, and I think those things will get figured out.”
McVay oversaw Cousins’ rapid improvement in 2015, one that resulted in a record-breaking season for the Redskins quarterback.
In all, Cousins would set team records in passing yards (4,166), attempts (543), completions (379) and 300-yard passing games (seven). He moved the ball through the air efficiently, completing 69.8 percent of passes for the second-highest completion percentage in Redskins history (eighth-best in NFL history) and recorded the third-highest passer rating in franchise history (101.6).
“I think it was something to where you started to see as the season progressed he was making really good decisions,” McVay said of Cousins. “I thought he was seeing coverage well, and anytime you’ve got a quarterback you think is seeing the field well, able to recognize what coverage I’m seeing and how that dictates where the ball should go, you feel much more comfortable throwing the ball a little but more than you may be accustomed to on those first- and second-down situations.”
The Redskins also benefitted in 2015 from the hiring of quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, who has decades of experience both as an NFL QB and as a coach.
“I think the one thing you really realize from him is that he has such an even-keel demeanor, and I thought that really rubbed off on Kirk over the course of the year,” McVay said of Cavanaugh. “You could feel that no matter what the situation is, during the course of the game he always stayed really even-keeled and I thought you kind of saw Kirk maintain and take on that personality from coach Cavanaugh.”
An ‘exciting process’
While the team waits for its full offseason roster to sort itself out, the coaches are hard at work at Redskins Park, splitting up their days between personnel meetings – free agency and the NFL Draft – and studying film from 2015 to see what worked, and what didn’t work.
As it pertains to 2016, McVay said there will be “some consistency and some continuity” with the offensive playbook, but the coaching staff will continue to make tweaks throughout the offseason to be ready to go once again come Opening Day.
“I think the best coaches around the league do a great job fitting their schemes to their personnel, and that’s something we always strive to do here as well,” he said. “So I think based on who are in some of those crucial and critical positions might affect what we look like, but we will still have our core plays that make up our identity offensively.”