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NFL AM: Cousins Proving Himself As Legitimate Starting QB

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Cousins Has Secured Another Payday

Everyone has heard of the phrase, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

The first impression of Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins’ 2016 season was on Monday Night Football against Pittsburgh, where he threw a pair of bad interceptions, and had trouble moving his offense against a mediocre defense.

Many questioned the Redskins decision to place the franchise tag on Cousins, who will earn roughly $20 million this season.

Since the season opener, Cousins has quietly turned things around, completing nearly 70 percent of his throws, with 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions, and he has guided his team to just one loss since Week 2.

On Sunday night, Cousins outdueled the great Aaron Rodgers, as he completed 21 of 30 throws, for 375 yards with three touchdowns as Washington took down the Green Bay Packers, 42-24.

Veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson had this to say about his quarterback’s performance.

“Lights out,” said Jackson. “QB rating 145? So we need him to play like that a lot more. I think if we can get our guy back there playing like that, pretty much unstoppable.”

This was a postseason rematch from last year where the Packers won 35-18, where Cousins and the Redskins looked completely outclassed.

“We certainly had a sour taste in our mouths walking away from the game last season,” Cousins explained. “When you watch the film, we felt like there were plays there to be made that didn’t get made. I think tonight you saw what we felt we were capable of doing last January and just didn’t get it done.”

As we look forward, Cousins is about to be a free agent at season’s end, and the desire for his services is likely to be extremely high.  Washington can’t really afford to franchise him again, which would cost upwards of $25 million for 2017, so they will have to either sign him to a long-term contract or let him test the market.

With teams like the New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers having unclear quarterback situations, it’s going to be a seller’s market for Cousins’ services.

Saved Their Season

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the trendy picks this offseason as a team who could go from worst to first.

After nine games, the Bucs had a 4-5 record with a trip to Kansas City looming.  The Chiefs had been undefeated at home and were heavy favorites, but Tampa came away with a gutty, 19-17 victory to put themselves in the mix in the NFC Wildcard race.

“Today we were a really good football team, Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said after the game. “Today we played well in all phases, defense minus a few plays, played really strong. Offense we had good mix, special teams held up their end. This is a very tough, a team that’s won 17 of I think their last 19 games and shoot I’m proud of these guys for the way we came in here, awesome atmosphere, always an awesome place to play here at Arrowhead and we played good football today.”

Quarterback Jameis Winston, the emotional leader of the team despite being just a second-year player wrote a letter to motivate the squad earlier in the week.

“Yeah, Jameis [Winston] came to me last Saturday night – a week ago Saturday night before the Chicago game and had his letter written on a notepad, and asked me. I thought he was talking about doing it for the Chicago game, and he said, ‘No, Coach. After we beat Chicago, I want to do it on Wednesday of Kansas City week.’ I said, ‘Yeah, of course. That’s fantastic.’ It was a fantastic letter. He read it to the guys on Wednesday after practice. He just reminded them about it in there,” Koetter explained.  “Jameis is a special guy. We would never, ever question his leadership or his toughness, but the way he controlled the game today, other than a very brief stint at the start of the third quarter, he was as accurate as I’d seen him, made great decisions and took care of the football. He played really good today.”

Winston was asked about the letter after the game.

“That’s team stuff,” the quarterback said.  “I don’t want to go into it. One thing I can say is I just told them how grateful I was to be their quarterback.  That was the main thing.”

When asked about the timing, this was Winston’s response.

“Why not do it,” he asked.  “When we lost the last game [Atlanta] it was important to me to let the guys know the season isn’t over. Obviously they have the same thing in their minds but after we won at Chicago you just see the mentality, there’s room to grow and it’s just one game. We are getting better every single week. I have to keep getting better, not turning the ball over really helps, so that’s good.”

The win puts Tampa a game and a half behind Washington for the final Wildcard spot, tied with Philadelphia at 5-5.  The Bucs will also need to leapfrog over Detroit or Minnesota, who have identical 6-4 records.

There’s a lot of work left to do for the Bucs to realize some lofty preseason expectations, but they seem to have the right leadership in place, especially under center.

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.