WASHINGTON — Give Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden credit–he doesn’t always say what you might expect him to say.
Kirk Cousins is the team’s highest paid player and its only hope of making 2017 a successful campaign, by any interpretation. Sunday’s game was a meaningless exhibition affair, but Gruden still got fired up when he saw Cousins try to chase down linebacker Vontaze Burfict after an interception in the first half.
“He risked his body to make a tackle?” Gruden said with a laugh, mocking the reporter’s questions. “It’s a competitive sport and to let a guy score a touchdown on our home field is unacceptable.
“I’m happy he did that. It’s the right move. He should do that.”
This is an old-school mentality that certainly has merit in the modern game. The Redskins are just 13-11 at home during Gruden’s tenure and FedExField has rarely been mentioned as a challenging place for opponents to play.
Gruden seems to be suggesting that by finishing the play, Cousins is helping to build his own reputation, as well as that of the team and the venue. It’s a mentality shift as much as anything.
But just like demanding a player run out ground balls to first base in baseball, if Cousins comes up hobbling after that play, there’s no way that Gruden would feel the same way.
As far as the interception that Cousins threw, Gruden credited the defense instead of blaming Cousins.
“It was a great play by Vontaze. They played man-to-man and he worked the right side of the field. He jumped our route because [Cousins] worked a little bit late to the flat. You don’t want to work that late to the flat because, usually, that ball has to come out quicker.
“But it was a great play by Vontaze. Hats off to him.”