WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Heading into his third season as the Redskins backup quarterback, Kirk Cousins has put the offseason rumor mill behind him, and is saying all the right things in his first year under head coach Jay Gruden.
Cousins — selected 102nd overall (4th round) in the 2012 NFL Draft behind Robert Griffin III, whom the Redskins took 2nd overall — endured plenty of trade speculation ahead of this year’s draft, and was even open about his willingness to move on from Washington for the opportunity to start, but through it all, he’s remained the 2nd-string quarterback for the Washington Redskins.
And if a potential suitor — maybe a general manager searching for his next viable quarterback option, if his 2014 plans fall through — were listening to Cousins’ interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Monday, that suitor would be hearing everything he wanted to hear, from a team-first quarterback who’s both understanding of his current role, but also mentally prepared for his next.
Here’s a blow-by-blow of Cousins’ interview:
Where are you in your career?
“I’m excited,” Cousins said. “The fact that it’s already coming up on Year 3, I feel like the NFL career so far has gone really quickly, and I just want to take another step forward this year, and get that much more experienced as third-year quarterback. And my role hasn’t changed a whole lot so far in my career. I’m still a backup and I’m still in the same organization, so there’s some stability there, but I’m just excited to try to take another step forward in Year 3 and gain that much more confidence and experience, and I feel like the end of the year last year, when I was able to start three games, did a lot for me to feel like I can really play in this league and feel like I’ve been there before now going into Year 3.”
What’s the key to putting the offseason trade rumors in the past and buckling down?
“Well, there’s so many positives right now for me,” Cousins said. “I feel like this is a great city, a great fanbase to play for, a great team to play with, I’ve got great teammates, great coaches; the fact that I get to play for Coach Gruden puts me in a great position to have success. So there’s just so many positives to look at, and when you really look at it that way, I’m excited and hopefully this NFL career can last a long time for me, and I won’t look at one, two, three, four years of being a backup and waiting for my opportunity — won’t feel like a long time, because I’ll look back and say it was the best thing for me and gave me a great chance to then have success later in my career.”
How will you and Robert keep all the Redskins offensive weapons involved?
“I think it’s a balance. It’s a little bit of everything,” Cousins said. “I think in the challenge and the privilege – if you want to call it that, from Coach Gruden and Coach McVay’s perspective – is all the weapons that they have to distribute the ball to. And that’ll kind of be their responsibility, and then it’s our job as quarterbacks, and Robert’s job to really just do what he’s coached to do.
“Once the play comes in, he’s gonna let coverage and let formations and let situations dictate where he goes with the ball and it’s not gonna be locking in on any one receiver, or pre-determining where he’s gonna throw the football; it’s all gonna be based on ‘What am I getting? What the look I’m getting? What makes the most sense in the progression?’ But that being said, it’s gonna come down to Coach Gruden and Coach McVay to go with the hot hand, and by formations and by situations, be able to get certain guys the football.
“And we’ll always scheme and provide opportunities for different guys to make a play, but at the same time, you’re gonna go with the guy who has the hot hand, and you’re gonna try to get the guy the football who’s helping you win the game, so the blessing is that we have so many guys who can make plays for us, and that’s where, as a quarterback, it starts to get fun, and as a playcaller, it starts to get fun.”
What are you personally working to improve upon as a quarterback?
“I think the ability, at the line of scrimmage, to get out of the wrong plays and into the right ones is something that you’re always evolving in,” Cousins said. “If you watch the Drew Breeses, the Peyton Mannings, the Tom Bradys, the Aaron Rodgers – you see those guys at the line of scrimmage doing a lot, and they’re able to very calmly and very collectively, within the play clock, get out of the wrong plays, get into the right ones, and do it in a way that’s efficient.
“And it makes their job easy. It takes a lot of pressure off them. They don’t always have to be throwing 80-yard touchdown passes and throwing it in on a dime, because they’re putting their team into situations where they can be successful against the coverages they’re seeing. So always being able to be one step ahead of a defensive coordinator, and seeing those coverages, knowing those fronts, understanding that, ‘Hey, yea, we can make this play really different and bang our heads against the wall, or we can get into a different play, and make it a lot easier to get the same 10- or 15-yard gain.’
“And that’s where I think these quarterbacks who have been playing a long time have a lot of success, and so that’s where I’m exciting – through a bunch of reps in training camp and a bunch of experience in the preseason – to be able to take another step forward, in that above-the-neck game, that can really make a huge difference on Sunday afternoons.”