WASHINGTON — The strongest endorsement of Redskins starting quarterback Kirk Cousins might have just come from his offensive coordinator.
Sean McVay, who is preparing for his third season as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator, spoke with Grant and Danny ahead of the open to training camp, and he expressed more confidence in Cousins than just about anybody has.
“What you do feel fortunate [about] as a coach is you’ve got a quarterback that, there’s no doubt in my mind we’ve got a chance to win every game with him leading our offense. In terms of the dynamic and the rapport that we’ve been able to develop where I think we’re very much on the same page, he understands what we’re looking for as a staff, he’s got a great feel and command for our offense. We talked about it all offseason, and I think you saw it really at the end of the year as he continued to gain experience in what we’re trying to accomplish offensively, he’s truly become an extension of our coaching staff. When you’ve got a guy that can operate like that, it just gives you such a better feeling knowing that he’s the one leading your offense. And we’ve got a lot of confidence in Colt [McCoy] and [Nate Sudfeld’s] progression as well, but with Kirk, it was something that I thought you saw, the continuous improvement throughout the year, and then he picked up right where he left off with the offseason program, and we’re expecting the same thing starting out in training camp.”
That was the most overwhelmingly positive piece McVay said of his quarterback in the call, but it was far from the only one. When asked what the offense would look like this season, McVay stressed the importance of play diversity, citing New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, but he said the key is to just let Cousins do what he does best.
“The thing that you feel good about is that you do have a quarterback that you can put the game in his hands and you have a lot of confidence in his ability to work through a progression, distribute the ball to the playmakers that we do have and feel very good about our line’s ability to protect, but ultimately I think we as coaches sometimes get caught up in is ‘OK, we’ve gotta run the ball, do this.’ I’ve heard coach Belichick say this and it really resonated with me: Ultimately, our job as an offense is to move the football and score points, and whatever way we feel like is gonna give us the best chance to do that on a week-to-week basis is how we’re gonna try to attack people. Certainly you always want to maintain a level of balance to keep people honest, but at the same time, when you do have the guy playing quarterback that we do, you feel very confident to say, hey, some of those early down-and-distances where you’re gonna be more inclined to run the football, let’s let Kirk throw it and let some of our players on the perimeter win individual matchups that you’re getting against some of these eight-man fronts where you’re going to be short in the run game. And that’s something where we feel like we’ve got a luxury moving forward, and it’s something that’s gonna be gameplan-predicated, like you mentioned, Grant.”
There has rarely been much doubt about Cousins’ ability to run an offense.
Rather, the big knock on him before his incredible hot streak to close out the 2015 season was his interception rate. Through his first three seasons in the NFL, Cousins had thrown 18 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He added six touchdowns and eight interceptions in the first six games of the 2015 season, then he caught fire in Week 7 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, throwing three touchdowns without an interception. From that game on, including the postseason loss to the Green Bay Packers, he tossed 24 touchdowns to just three picks.
McVay told Grant and Danny that Cousins would throw some interceptions still, as every quarterback does, but he thinks the former Michigan State star has moved on from his earlier turnover woes.
“I think what you’re seeing from Kirk is he’s such a conscientious guy, he does a great job with his preparation throughout the course of the week, and there’s no substitute for the value of experience. Seeing a rush, seeing different coverages, how that affects what we’re doing within the framework of whatever player concept we’re running. And I thought you saw his decision-making improve throughout the course of the year. He’s a guy that’s extremely accurate with the football, and he does a great job changing his arm angle, so you’re not seeing a lot of tipped balls and things like that. I think it all kind of collectively is what leads to him having less interceptions, and the way that he’s wired and the type of guy he is, I just think you’re going to see that continue to improve throughout the course of his career as he gains that experience.”
The full call, in which McVay addresses the team’s running back situation and other aspects of the offense, is below.