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Five Takeaways: Kirk Cousins's Rams Week Presser

Posted Sep 13, 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. Executing plays will overcome the familiarity that head coach Sean McVay has with the Redskins offense.

Eight months ago, Rams head coach Sean McVay was still the Redskins’ offensive coordinator, which is to say that he’s still quite familiar with the kind of offense that Washington will be using when the team visits Los Angeles this weekend.

For quarterback Kirk Cousins, that can have its drawbacks, but it ultimately won’t matter too much so long as the Redskins execute like they know they can on Sunday.

“I think Sean [McVay] would tell you and we would say that ultimately it comes down to executing and if we can run our plays very detailed and be disciplined in the way we execute, usually that can overcome familiarity,” Cousins said. “But certainly if we don’t execute well, it certainly gives them the opportunity to capitalize.”

Although Cousins wasn’t happy with his play on Sunday, there’s likely nothing McVay could have told him differently that head coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh haven’t already discussed.

“It’s all correctable,” Cousins said. “It’s all there to be fixed and it’s disappointing that we let one get away at home, but there’s nothing we can do to change it now. We can only move forward and try to make the most of each opportunity we have and in preparing for the next opportunity. We’ve got a great challenge coming on Sunday and we can get right back where we want to be with a great performance and a win, so that’s where our focus is.”

2. McVay has meant a lot to Cousins's career and has always believed in him.

Before McVay left for the Rams, Cousins signed a jersey for him and wrote, “I owe you my career” on it. Cousins said Wednesday there are a number of people to whom he could write that message, but that McVay has never wavered in his trust of him.

Cousins, an avid reader, is currently reading Bill Walsh’s book and cited a passage about the former football coach, who says the four most powerful words from a coach to a player are, “I believe in you.” It’s the same kind of approach McVay took with Cousins, working with him through the high and low parts of his career.

“Sean said that to me over and over and over again even when there weren’t many other people who did so that certainly means a lot,” Cousins said. “Especially when you look back and see where we came from there.”

Cousins elaborated on why he feels so strongly about McVay and the impact on him over the last several years.

“Well I mean he was our play caller for my two best seasons in the league,” he said. “I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, I think it’s pretty self-evident why he’s had a big impact on my career…Sean has presence and it’s hard to teach presence. He has charisma. That’s hard to teach, and it’s hard to teach being a good communicator. You kind of either have it or you don’t. So you can talk about his age, but he had presence when he was 20 years old and there’s a lot of guys who are 65 who don’t have any presence."

3. The reads Cousins makes based on the defense are more important than the personnel around him.

Much was made about the amount of snaps certain offensive players received Sunday against the Eagles, and how the ball was to be distributed to them.

This is not particularly a concern for Cousins, who makes decisions about throwing the football based primarily on the defensive looks he’s receiving on each play as he comes under center.

“When they draw up the game plan, they can create formations and motions and reads where certain guys may have a higher percentage chance of getting the football,” Cousins said. “But once it comes to game day, unless it’s a complete 50-50 read, I’m just going off what the coverage dictates and the front and what the read tells me to do and then from there, what the post-snap read tells me to do. It can be everybody on any given day and from week to week I think it will change quite a bit.”

4. Aaron Donald’s return means it will be another tough task for the offensive line.

The Rams defensive line is considered one of the best in the NFL, and it will receive a credible boost when Aaron Donald returns to the team this week after sitting out the preseason over a contract dispute. Cousins hasn’t studied the interior lineman too much, but knows exactly the kind of presence and push he brings to the Rams’ defense.

“I think that he seems to have really good leverage,” Cousins said. “He seems to be a very compact player. He seems to have really good get-off off the snap count. He’s quick-twitch. He’s sudden. He uses leverage and power. Football is a game of leverage and power and he knows how to use it and get every ounce of his power and drive where he needs it to create havoc in the backfield.”

The Redskins’ offensive line struggled with the Eagles’ pass rush, allowing four sacks and several hurries, forcing Cousins into quicker throws and a cluttered pocket in which to work. The line will have to take step up to neutralize a pass rush that created four sacks, one hit and five hurries against the Colts.

"I do feel that every week when you look at the NFL schedule, you can name a player on the other side of the ball who’s dominant – who’s a game changing player –and Aaron’s no different," Cousins said. "They have a couple others as well. But that’s the NFL and that’s why this league is so tough and also so great is because there’s just such a challenge every single week.”

5. Timing between himself and receivers is always a work in progress.

Cousins explained on Wednesday that timing isn’t like checking a box. It requires constant tuning, especially when going up against dangerous pass rushes each week. As he works with his receivers to gain more trust with them, the timing between them will begin to tighten up.

“You have to kind of see it before it happens and then trust it and let it go and believe that it’s going to happen the way it needs to once the ball is out of your hands,” Cousins said. “That takes time and work and that’s why I’ve said for a long time, we’re a work in progress.”

Specifically looking at last Sunday, Cousins is encouraged because most of the mistakes that were made were correctible in his eyes.

“If they weren’t, then you’d be sitting here pretty nervous,” Cousins said. “But I do feel like, including myself, that a lot of the stuff that we didn’t do well enough can be fixed and corrected and need to be. So we’ve just got to get back out, keep working, never lose confidence and just prepare for the next one.”

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