WASHINGTON — After an 0-2 start, Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay returned to the booth for play-calling duties in Washington’s next two games, both resulting in victories.
The Redskins have had rush-to-pass ratios of 27:35 and 26:27 over the past two weeks, both victories, against the Giants and Browns, respectively, far more balanced than their 11:43 and 15:46 rush-to-pass ratios against the Steelers and Cowboys — both losses. Coincidence?
The decision for McVay to leave the sideline and call the offense from the booth, something he experimented with for the first time in the preseason, actually came out of a desire by the players to have tight ends coach Wes Phillips down on the sideline, Cousins told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier Monday on 106.7 The Fan’s Under Center, driven by theLindsay Automotive Group.
“I think the original intent was to get Wes Phillips, Coach Phillips, down on the sideline,” Cousins said. “Because he had usually been up in the box and we wanted him down on the sideline just to be able to talk to the tight ends. [With] how many different personnel groupings we’re using and the amount we’re relying on our tight ends, we wanted him down there to be able to coach them and be communicating with them on a drive-in and drive-out basis more easily. So Sean said, ‘I’ll go up.'”
There has been another benefit to McVay calling plays from the booth.
“I just told him after the Giants game that, for whatever it’s worth, the play calls just come in much more sterile and clean into my helmet just because he’s not down on the sideline, he’s in a box,” Cousins said. “There’s no crowd noise around him. He doesn’t have to yell over the crowd, and so when the plays come in, they just come in very calm and easy and it just feels more methodical, and I say that in a good way.
“I just told him, you know, ‘It doesn’t really matter to me whether you’re on the sidelines or in the booth, but just so you know, that’s kind of the way I felt how it came in.’ And he said, ‘Hey. That’s all I need to hear. I’ll be up, then.’ Hopefully it can continue to be a positive thing for us, but I think right now going forward he’s going to be up and Coach Phillips will be down. I don’t know if that’s the fix-all, but yeah, I think it’s something that may be able to help us a little bit and we’re always looking for an edge here or there.”
After home victories in 2015, Cousins developed a post-game ritual of celebrating over Shake Shack burgers and fries. This season, he has a new post-game ritual, a healthier one, probably, and independent of the final score.
“I had a couple friends in town,” he said for Sunday’s 31-20 win. “And I’ve now been going after every game to see my chiropractor, Dr. Roselle, out in Fairfax, and it’s been a good little routine for me to go see him after each game, because I get popped a couple times.”
“I used to wake up really, really sore on Mondays,” he said. “But now, I thought, ‘I’m tired of waking up sore on Mondays,’ so I just go see him Sunday night out in Fairfax and he kind of puts me back together is how I like to say it. Sure enough, I wake up Monday morning feeling pretty good. So it was good to see Dr. Roselle and then just get home and watch Sunday Night Football and just kind of hang out with friends, and certainly it’s a much better feeling than coming off of a loss. We’ve got to do more of these. We’ve got to have more of these wins!”
Cousins took listeners through his thought process on Washington’s third-to-last drive of the game, which began from their own 43-yard line after Will Compton recovered a Browns fumble forced by Ziggy Hood. The Redskins, leading 24-20 with nine minutes remaining in regulation, had a chance to take a two-score lead, or at the very least, extend their lead by a touchdown.
Matt Jones got the Redskins into deep field goal range, down to the Browns’ 32-yard line on a 25-yard run. Cousins then promptly took the Redskins out of field goal range by taking two sacks over the next three plays, dropping them back to midfield and forcing a punt on 4th-and-28.
“I rolled out trying to just find somebody to dump it to,” Cousins recalled. “And at first I thought Vernon Davis, but didn’t feel like if I got it to him it was going to do us any good. In fact, I thought we might have lost yardage.
“And then I tried to get it to Jordan [Reed], but he wasn’t really looking at me. He was thinking I was running, so he was trying to block, and so right then and there was when I kind of thought, ‘All right, I better throw it away,’ but just never felt the guy, and so I was hanging onto it a tick longer, and because I didn’t feel him, I didn’t think to throw it away. I felt like I still had time and, you know, the old deal where he just kind of sneaks up on you.”
“Obviously, if I could have felt him, I would have thrown it away but just didn’t,” he said. “And so that’s the thing where maybe you just throw it away regardless — whether you feel him or not — just throw the ball away, concede the down. Understand that, hey, they got us here, and let’s move onto the next one. That would probably be the lesson learned.”