WASHINGTON — Mike Shanahan was one of the first people around the NFL to publicly predict great things for Kirk Cousins.
“He’s a starter in the National Football League, and it’ll be proven out in time,” Shanahan said at the time.
About a month later, Shanahan doubled down on that thinking, and he compared the Redskins quarterback to a pair of former Shanahan signal-callers: John Elway and Steve Young.
Fast forward to August 2016, and Shanahan is once again talking Cousins on Grant and Danny. (Rouhier was actually on vacation, and former Redskins center Will Montgomery was filling in as Paulsen’s co-host.) Once again, he is very high on Cousins.
“You could see Kirk, when he first got to the Redskins, that he was really special — the intangibles, the way he worked, the way he went about his daily routine — that he was gonna separate himself once he got that opportunity,” Shanahan said. “When he did play in games early, even though it was limited, he made some plays that a lot of quarterbacks just don’t make. He’s gonna be a great player for a long time, and the Redskins are very fortunate they have him.”
“One thing he always talks about is wanting to do some more stuff kind of off script, extend more plays, is that something a guy either has or he doesn’t?” Paulsen asked. “Can that be learned? Do you remember any of the quarterbacks you worked with over the years that kind of got better at that as they went?”
“Yeah I think Kirk is a guy that gets better every day. He’s a student of the game, he’s exceptionally bright, he studies all situations. He’s a coach on the field, like he’s an offensive coordinator. He has the ability to make quick decisions, he’s got the feel of the pocket — the drop-back game and the play-action game — and it’s hard to find those guys. He could actually run any type of offense and be successful with it. You don’t find guys like that very often.
“I had Steve Young when I first went to San Francisco in ’92. Same thing. Just extremely bright, wanted to know every phase of the game, and you just have fun with guys like that. They just want to get better, they want to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, and they know how hard it is. And the only way you do it is attention to detail every day, if it’s in practice, if it’s in the weight room, if it’s watching film, you’ve just got to try to improve. When you have a guy like Kirk, he’s going to constantly challenge the coaches because he wants to be the best player he can possibly be.”
“If you take a look at his game experience and what he’s been able to do, he’s going to be playing in this league a long time, and he’s going to have some great success because you don’t find guys with that type of, not only ability, but the attention to detail and intelligence of a guy like Kirk.”
The whole call is available above, but suffice to say, Shanahan is quite convinced Cousins has the tools to be a quality starter for years to come.