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Five Takeaways: Kirk Cousins's Raiders Week Presser

Posted Sep 20, 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. He loves the versatility Chris Thompson brings.

It’s no question, the Redskins offense has benefited greatly from running back Chris Thompson’s play through two games this season. The third-down back, whose role may increase more depending on the health status of starter Rob Kelley, has scored three of the team’s four offensive touchdowns thus far, increasing his playmaking while continuing to be a supreme pass-blocker.

The quick-spark ability has made it easier on quarterback Kirk Cousins, whose load has been lightened by Thompson’s versatility. The Florida State product has gained 81 yards both rushing and receiving, providing a changeup from the more punishing running style of Kelley and Samaje Perine. Cousins ran off a laundry list of the things Thompson does well.

“He can pass protect. He can catch the football. He can run good routes. He is a smart player. He is a good teammate. He runs the ball well. He can hit the home run. He can make people miss,” Cousins said. “There is just a lot to like and the other thing about Chris that you have to know from his story is it wasn’t like he showed up as a rookie and was an All-Pro. It took time to develop and that’s the case with so many guys in this league.

“He has got a great demeanor about him,” Cousins added. “He is very composed, very intelligent, good teammate. I told him that, I said ‘You’re the kind of guy I want in the huddle in a tense moment in an away stadium,’ just because you feel like he is a guy who has composure about him and the moment is not too big for him. So, can’t say enough good things about Chris and hopefully continue to lean on him. I think we will continue to lean on him because of the mismatches he can create on linebackers and things like that.”

2. Thompson’s conscientious mentality is an example of the strong locker room the team has.

The Thompson love continued when Cousins was asked about how Thompson felt bad that he couldn’t collect a pass in the Rams game that could have potentially gone for another long score.

Thompson lamented the fact that the catch would have likely given Cousins more than 200 yards passing. It was another small example of a player thinking about his teammate.

“I’ve said it many times and hopefully it translates to wins, I don’t know that it always does, but we do have a really good locker room,” Cousins said. “It is examples like that where players are thinking of other players that makes a big difference. The second the ball left my hand and we didn’t complete it, I said to myself ‘I threw it too hard.’ I didn’t give him a chance to really catch it. I rifled it and needed to just throw a more catchable ball. So we are all being critical of ourselves and finding ways that we individually can play better so that collectively as a group we can have improvement going forward.”

3. With more reps, he’ll have more opportunities to find Josh Doctson in the passing game.

A few times during Sunday’s game against the Rams, wide receiver Josh Doctson slipped out of coverage and had an opportunity for a big pass play, but Cousins didn't look his way. That was due to a variety of things – reading the defense differently, having pressure in his face – reasons why the two haven’t connected so far in the regular season.

That figures to change eventually, and Doctson’s full participation at practice Wednesday, and presumably for the entire week, should help get them on a better rapport come Sunday night against the Raiders.

“Every play is different, but you always have your reads and where your eyes are and you focus downfield and you try to feel the pass rush,” Cousins said. “There are times where you stand in there and make the throw, which I have done many times. There is times where you eat it and you take the sack to avoid a tipped ball or an interception, or whatever it may be. There’s times where you have enough time to throw the ball the way to avoid the sack, but you also knew that the read downfield wasn’t declaring and so rather than throwing it into a gray window, you just throw the ball away. Those are those split-second decisions that you try to train through muscle memory with a lot of practice reps and game reps. That’s something that I think I am continuing to get better and better at.”

4. He respects Oakland’s football culture and its premier defenders.

The first attribute that impressed Cousins about the team’s next opponent, the Raiders, was their culture change over the last couple of years with quarterback Derek Carr under center.  Then he turned to their defense, specifically defensive end Khalil Mack and linebacker Bruce Irvin, who he’s faced before when playing against Seattle.

“Khalil Mack is as good as they come in the NFL and Bruce Irvin I’ve played against when he was in Seattle and he’s a very active player, both in the pass game and in the run game,” Cousins said. “Very athletic in space. Obviously we know David Amerson and the player that he’s become. They’ve got experienced players, they had a great year and went to the playoffs last year for a reason and they’re 2-0 for a reason. Very good defense.”

Head coach Jay Gruden mentioned that Oakland mixes up its front seven really well, making it challenging to know what kind of blitz packages are coming. If the run game can sustain itself, that should ease some of the pressure.

5. Though the passing game hasn’t quite clicked yet, he’s optimistic it will improve.

Cousins has thrown for just 419 yards in his first two regular season games, putting him below pace from the past two years of prolific offense. There are a variety of factors contributing to this slower start – a dropped pass here, a missed read there – but Cousins remains confident that the pass offense will progress in the coming weeks, especially if the run game can provide them more opportunities for play-action.

“I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better,” Cousins said. “Sometimes around this league – I don’t know, I would be interested to do a study to see do offenses tend to take more time to get going than defenses in this league, I wonder?

“I know for me these last couple seasons we’ve gotten stronger as the year has gone on offensively and have gotten an identity and kind of gotten a better understanding of what we do well and how to make that work week in and week out. Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks. But that being said, we have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out.”

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