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Five Takeaways: Kirk Cousins's 49ers Week Presser

Posted Oct 11, 2017

Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Kirk Cousins's press conference at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun Co., Va.

Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Kirk Cousins's press conference at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun Co., Va.


1. Being a father has given him a broader perspective about playing football.

Predictably, becoming a father for the first time has given Cousins a better perspective about how to approach his life and football career.

“When you throw a few interceptions and come home from a tough loss, I think it’s going to eat at you a little less,” Cousins said. “I think when you ‘re on top of the world after a big win you’re going to come home and realize that you’re not as big of a deal as you think you are. I think that’s a healthy thing.”

Cousins said he read Drew Brees’ book that discussed how the Saints’ quarterback had better time management after the birth of his son because it gave him incentives to finish certain priorities on time so he could be home longer with his family.

“Ray Wright, our old strength coach who’s now in San Francisco, when I got married said, ‘I believe you’re not your best self as a player until your married,’” Cousins said. “A lot of times guys play better once they’re married and I’d maybe even say the same thing about having a son. I think you could maybe even become a better football player after that happens.”

2. He would have preferred a later Bye Week, but was glad to have time with his son.

The Redskins received their Bye Week on the early side this season, coming after just four games. This came in handy for many on the defensive side of the ball that got injured during the Chiefs game, but it now means that the team must prepare itself for 12 consecutive weeks without break.

Ultimately, Cousins would prefer to have a Bye Week closer to the middle of the season, like they did last year after visiting London, but he was also happy to spend the first week of his newborn son Cooper’s life without his typical work week.   

“I think we were fortunate with the timing of our baby’s arrival that the Bye Week came when it did, but it’s always tough when it’s so early,” Cousins said. “You prefer a Bye Week later in the year when it’s really a halftime of the season, but we’ll take what we can get. Earlier in the year I guess, like I said, we had the benefit with our baby and when you go back and look at the start of training camp and how long we’ve been going at it, it probably is about halfway now. We’ll take advantage of the time we rested and got recharged and we’re ready to go now.”

During the Bye week, Cousins posted a lot of photos of his time with Cooper, showing off his “dad swag.”

“I felt like I had dad swag before I was a dad. I’m the kind of guy in high school who would wear a braided belt and cargo shorts. White socks that came up half way up my ankles,” Cousins joked. “I was probably one step away from Velcro shoes and a visor and an oversized polo tucked in. Maybe even a Palm Pilot on my belt. Actually Kyle Shanahan used to tell me when he saw me in my game uniform, he said, ‘Kirk, your swag is having no swag.’ That’s kind of always been my swag and I guess I’ll stick with it. But yeah, I guess I kind of fit the dad vibe for the most part.”

3. He’s developed a lot as a quarterback, even over the last year

Just because Cousins is in his third year as the starting quarterback, doesn’t mean there are things he isn’t intent on improving. With each year comes more comfortability and more nuances for Cousins to develop and hone.

“Well I’ve developed every area of my game from the end of year two to now in the middle of year six,” Cousins said. “Everything from protections, audibles, understanding the run game, reads, coverage recognition, blitz recognition. Just how to handle a 16 game season and how to win in this league – how to play on the road. There’s so many elements of being a quarterback. As I’ve played, I’ve picked them all up and I feel like every year I take another step.”

Cousins has attributed most of his progress to the coaches around him.

“I think most of us need to have great people around us to be successful,” he said. “Maybe not the case with every player, but most of us do and I’m no different. I’ve been so fortunate to have Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, Matt Lafleur, those people leading me my first few years. And then to have Sean McVay, Jay Gruden, Matt Cavanaugh I’ve felt like has had a big impact on my career, and now Kevin O’Connell.”

4. Kyle Shanahan always believed in his potential, which has meant a lot to him.

The Redskins will face some familiar opponents this weekend when they host the 49ers. There’s wide receiver Pierre Garçon, who Cousins knew for his whole career playing for the Burgundy and Gold, and then there is former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

The latter played an important role in Cousins’ young NFL career as he developed at the professional level. After providing a list of quarterback coaches and offensive coaches that have impacted his career, Cousins pointed out Shanahan for a specific reason.

“Kyle stands out looking back just because the information we have now, we didn’t have then,” Cousins said. “No one knew what was going to happen and Kyle believed in me when it was just potential. There was no production. I hadn’t done anything to earn his belief and he believed in me, and Mike [Shanahan] did too, and Matt Lafleur for that matter. I think that’s when I look back and say, ‘Wow, those guys knew what they were talking about because I hadn’t done anything and they told me I had a lot of potential and could do something.’ I think that’s when I look back and then respect their knowledge at the quarterback position and what it takes to play well in this league.”

Cousins had goals that were as simple as making the team, knowing that next year was never promised to him.

“Hearing that belief from Mike, from Kyle, from Matt right away, gave me a chance to set my sights a little higher and to expect a little more out of myself and to work for more,” Cousins said. “It certainly is a shot in the arm when someone believes in you and that was the case, and like I said, I’ve been fortunate to have that really all the way through my career.”

5. Cousins is constantly involved in talking with receivers to refine their connections.

While the offense has steadily progressed, injuries to receivers have made things inconsistent (Jordan Reed, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder) and the full potential of the receiving corps hasn’t been able to blossom.

After every game, Cousins makes sure to speak with each of his teammates to go over route concepts that the team missed the previous week. Cousins has noticed that all of his receivers care deeply about the details of their games and work actively with him on correcting mistakes and learn what the other is thinking about.

“There’s a lot of precision with these routes – the spacing and the timing and the depth and the motions, and all that comes with reps and experience. I’ve been encouraged just because everyone in our offense wants to be on the details,” Cousins said. “We really care about the details and want to do it right and so it’s fun to work with them and coach them up and vice versa. I respect them when they have something for me because I understand they’re trying to do it the right way.”

Cousins elaborated on where and how these meetings exist.

“I could be passing Ike [Hilliard] in the hall and say, ‘Hey, tell Josh [Doctson] in his under [route] to get his shoulders down,’ or it could be me passing Josh in the hall and saying the same thing. It could be us in a meeting with Jay saying, ‘Hey, why are we doing it this way? Did we tell Terrelle [Pryor Sr.] that already?’ So it’s an ongoing conversation throughout the day and because we all love football, we all are junkies and kind of eat it up and want to talk ball throughout the entire day.”

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