WASHINGTON — While the Redskins organization may not be entirely sold on Kirk Cousins as a franchise quarterback, you won’t find a more staunch supporter than teammate Ricky Jean Francois.
“Everybody in the locker room’s behind Kirk,” Jean Francois told Mike Florio on PFT Live. “If you’re not, you’re a fool.”
“The man’s betting on himself. The man’s that confident enough to know he can lead one of the best team’s in the NFL to another division, to a playoff, might even [February 5] in Houston. He has that ability that he trusts himself enough to know that he can lead the Washington Redskins to another division, and to another playoff appearance and make a deeper run in it.”
“I understand everybody’s talking about the big contract, it’s a distraction,” he said. “It’s not a distraction to this guy. The man’s franchise tag is what? $19.5 [million]? I don’t see no distraction in that. I understand he wants security. I understand he wants the big bucks and all, but like Kirk Cousins said, he’s bet on himself, and that’s the best person to bet on. He knows he can go out there, he knows he can put [up] better numbers than he did last year.
“He did a great job for us last year. A lot of people think he wasn’t even going to do that. But he was leading stats that teams didn’t believe that Kirk Cousins did, so Kirk’s betting on himself. Kirk knows he can do a better job than he did last year. The sky’s the limit for this kid, because this kid has a very wide mind with guys around him that can make him better.”
“Them guys can make him better; he can make those guys better,” he continued. “You’ve got DeSean [Jackson], you’ve got Pierre [Garcon], you have [Jamison] Crowder, you have Jordan Reed, you have Vernon Davis, you have Niles Paul, you have THE best left tackle in the NFL blocking your blind side. It’s nothing this kid can’t do. And I understand with the schedule he has, if Kirk Cousins wants the money that he’s looking for, this is the schedule to accomplish it.”
When asked about the mood in the locker room last season, where Cousins and Robert Griffin III were made to coexist, just as they had for three seasons prior, Jean Francois was very clear: “It wasn’t no tension. It was people trying to build tension in that locker room.”
“It was like Kirk Cousins goes out and throws for 300 yards,” he said. “The next thing you know, somebody going to ask you out the blue, or you was going to see it on SportsCenter, or you was going to see it somewhere: ‘Well, RGIII looked at Kirk Cousins wrong,’ or ‘RGIII didn’t shake his hand,’ or ‘RGIII didn’t do this.’ It was never no tension.
“Kirk Cousins worked. RGIII worked. If Kirk Cousins needed a tip to see something he didn’t see, he would’ve asked RGIII, he even asked Colt McCoy. It was never no tension there, it was just people building the tension because, hell, everybody wants a story. That’s how people sell papers. That’s how people get higher ratings. You’ve got to build a story, but the story was always RGIII and Kirk Cousins.”
“Kirk Cousins wished RGIII the best and RGIII wished Kirk Cousins the best, and we just, we went from there. It was just people coming in and out of our locker room just trying to put that virus out there to make sure it spread like, ‘All right, we’re with Kirk Cousins; we’re with RGIII.’ Man, there’s no such thing. If Jay Gruden said Kirk Cousins is our starting quarterback, that’s who we’re rolling with.”
Jean Francois has a unique streak going for himself: He’s been in the playoffs in each of the past five seasons, with three different teams. There are two striking similarities, he says, between those Redskins, Colts and 49ers.
“Got a young quarterback,” he said. “Had a young quarterback when I was in San Francisco. Had one in Indianapolis, and now I’ve got Kirk Cousins, now to have a full offseason to get his move and groove going. And that locker room is the same way it was when I was in San Francisco.
“We know we have the team to accomplish something that nobody in the NFL, ESPN, CNN, MSNBC don’t believe we can do. Nobody really believes we can win the division again, and nobody hasn’t won that division twice back-to-back, but there’s a first time for everything. And the only people who gotta really believe in is the people sitting in that locker room each and every day.”
“When I was in SanFran, we had to believe,” he said. “When I was in Indy, we had to believe. So the same thing is happening here, and we’ve got the pieces, we’ve got the depth. We have everything that a Super Bowl-winning team or a Super Bowl-contending team has, from receivers, to the offensive line, the quarterbacks, the running backs, the d-linemen — wherever you look, we have those players. Only thing we have to do is just be disciplined and be consistent each and every week and we’ll be successful.”
The Redskins will have the 17th toughest schedule in 2016, which has caused concern among critics about whether they can repeat as NFC East champions.
“I understand everybody’s seen our schedule,” he said. “And I’ve seen people talk about we may win four, we may win six. I understand it’s the schedule. The schedule hasn’t been played yet. Nobody hasn’t put pads on yet. Hasn’t nobody been sitting out and game-planning for each and every team yet. Until that may happen, I understand, like I said, everybody’s prediction is their own prediction.”
“But our prediction is something greater, something bigger.”