By Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON — Kirk Cousins was sacked four times, hit eight times and he lost two fumbles in Washington’s season-opening loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.

“I think the protection can be better. There’s no doubt,” Cousins told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier during his weekly segment Monday — ‘Under Center,’ driven by the Lindsay Automotive Group.

“At the same time, there are other things we can do,” he said, “of trying to get the ball out quick, finding opportunities to have some quick throws, some screens, some other ways to take their pass rush, and the way they were getting after us, and try to put us in a position of strength where we’re going to use that to our advantage.”

“It’s a combination of factors,” he said. “But there’s no doubt we’re going to say this week, ‘Hey. We’ve got to protect better. We’ve got to hold up better.’ Whether it’s a play-action pass, a drop-back, a third down. And any time I can be more decisive or progress more quickly, I’m going to try to do that, because NFL pass rush is getting home quick regardless of how good the protection is.”

One of those fumbles came in the critical closing minutes of the game. With the Redskins backed up to their own 32-yard line, Cousins dropped back for a pass and was struck by a defender as he attempted to unleash a pass. Ruled a fumble on the field, Fletcher Cox picked up the ball and returned it 20 yards for a decisive touchdown, putting the Eagles out of reach, 30-16.

An official review agreed with the fumble ruling, though Cousins thought “for sure we were going to get the ball back.”

“I instinctually right away just felt like it was a forward pass and I looked back at the head ref, and I kind of looked at him like, ‘My arm’s going forward.’ He seemed to agree with me in the moment,” Cousins said. “That wasn’t the call.”

“I certainly felt like my arm was going forward,” Cousins said. “But my opinion I guess doesn’t matter much at that point.”

As for the interception he threw in the Eagles’ end zone in the fourth quarter, Cousins doesn’t have much to second-guess.

“The interception was 100 percent my fault,” he said. “It was just a poor throw. And it was disappointing because it’s 3rd-and-five and I think we can get the first down if that ball’s on Jamison [Crowder], and maybe he scores. Who knows?”

“Those are the kind of plays where we all look at different situations in the game where we say, ‘If I make that play, if he makes that play, who knows if it’s a different game,” he said. “And certainly the interception felt that way.”

Cousins explained that on the play, although he was perfectly familiar with the Cover-Zero defense — he had even seen it on the previous series near the end zone — he didn’t have his eyes in the right place to properly locate his receivers after identifying the blitzing defender.

“Frustrating,” he said. “Because that’s a play that I feel like I own, I know, a coverage that I’ve gone against many, many times. That’s I guess where it’s frustrating, because you feel like I know how to do that in my sleep, and yet, in the moment, when it really mattered, it didn’t get done.”

Cousins couldn’t explain Josh Doctson’s lack of involvement in the offense: “I don’t have a great understanding going into games of what the rotations are going to be, the personnel groupings.”

“When we’re in our Zebra personnel, we usually have Jordan Reed playing the tight end position and you have three receivers,” he said. “And yesterday that was, for the most part, Terrelle, Jamison and then Ryan Grant.”

“And then it seemed like Josh was giving people a breather,” he said. “When any of those guys came out, they would move around and switch and Josh was playing the Z in Ryan Grant’s place at times.”

Justice Federal Credit Union Fan Question of the Week

How do you put Week 1 behind you and move on to Week 2? — Mike in Leesburg

“This is the NFL. Welcome to playing in the NFC East,” Cousins said. “It’s gonna be like this, so we have to expect it, embrace it and understand that it’s a part of playing in this league, and this league’s gonna test you. And if it was easy, then it wouldn’t be the NFL.”

“It’s gonna be a grind, we understand that,” he said. “We’re so much better than what we did yesterday. I think we start with Tuesday, going in, taking our medicine, watching the film, being coachable, communicating well with teammates to make sure we all know what we need to do to help us win.”

“Get on the practice field Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and just have three good, sharp practices and then fly out there to LA and have the right mindset and understand it’s a long game,” he added. “A 60-minute game, there’s gonna be mistakes throughout the game.

“We have to just keep playing and find a way at the end to come out on top. I like our locker room. I like the character of our team. It is a long season. There’s a lot of football left, and so we have every reason to just go in there with a positive outlook, a positive mindset, excitement for what’s ahead and just go play football, enjoy playing and find a way to win.”

The Redskins take on Sean McVay’s Rams next Sunday. In his head coaching debut, the Rams wiped the floor with Indianapolis, 46-9. Should be a fun reunion between the Redskins and their former offensive coordinator.

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFan on Twitter


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