Insiders

Redskins Jay Gruden Was Right About Kirk Cousins

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Coming out of college, Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III entered the NFL with completely different expectations and for good reason.

After all, RG3 was the second overall pick, while Cousins fell to the fourth round.

Things started off great for Griffin in D.C, as he led the Redskins a division title in his rookie season, which was the franchises first playoff appearance in five years.

However, the once explosive RG3 tore his ACL against the Seattle Seahawks in their playoff game and the former Heisman Trophy winner simply hasn’t been the same since.

Fast forward to now, the Redskins find themselves back in the playoffs after clinching the NFC East over the weekend. While there’s plenty of factors that must be put into play here, the main one is the Redskins belief in Cousins since day one.

Despite selecting RG3 in the 2012 NFL Draft, for whatever reason, the Redskins felt it was necessary to obtain Cousins in the same draft, which has paid major dividends. There’s no telling what predicament Washington would’ve been in if they didn’t have Cousins right now.

Nonetheless, former Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan saw something in Cousins back in 2012 and it’s finally starting to show.

“I think Kirk Cousins has got a big-time future,” Shanahan said, via the Washington Post. “He’s a starter in the National Football League, and that’ll be proven out in time. … He’s going to have a great career as a starter.”

Yes, in just a matter of months, Cousins has went from a definite starter to a guy that’s capable of being a perennial Pro Bowler in Shanahan’s eyes.

Mike’s son, Kyle, also had nothing but good things to say about Cousins upon his arrival as the new offensive coordinator in Atlanta.

“Kirk’s one of the sharper guys I’ve been around,” Kyle raved. “He processes things so fast. He lets it rip. He’s as tough as can be.”

*Media and fans alike were having a difficult time seeing what people around Cousins saw, but to be blunt, Cousins wasn’t given a fair shake from outsiders. For example, a typical rookie or young quarterback in general with tons of potential would receive patience as he matures and gets used to the NFL, but with Cousins, critics were ready to bury him after every single mistake instead of chalking it up as a learning experience.

The lack of patience surrounding Cousins comes from him being a fourth round pick and the fact some people felt RG3 wasn’t treated fairly.  With that being said, Cousins’ biggest supporter, head coach Jay Gruden, envisioned this back in the summer after announcing Cousins as his guy moving forward.

“I just think it’s not so much what somebody didn’t do,” Gruden said. “It’s just what Kirk has done and I think what he’s done in practice and OTAs has really opened our eyes, and he’s proven to be the best quarterback on our roster at this time, really. It’s a compliment to Kirk, not so much the other guys didn’t do this or didn’t do that. I just think Kirk has played so well that he has earned the right.”

On the season, Cousins has thrown 26 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions, while throwing for nearly 4,000 yards to go along with an insane completion percentage of 69.5.

If you take his last nine games into account, the numbers look even better.  Cousins has completed 72.4 percent of his throws, for 2,570 yards with 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions throughout that stretch.  That extrapolates to a season of 4,569 yards, with 36 touchdowns and five picks.

With everything coming so quickly, Cousins is just taking it all in stride.

“It’s been quite a journey,” Cousins said. “It will be quite a journey going forward. You almost expect it in this league the way things work and the way things can change quickly. But I’m very satisfied to see how the tables have turned this year. Now we look forward and say, ‘Where can we go from here?’ and ‘How high can we take it?’”

There’s no telling how Cousins will fare in the coming years, but one things for sure, the former Michigan State product can expect a big payday this off-season.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.