Kirk Cousins: "I have a lot of people praying for me"

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QB Kirk Cousins quotes

Source: Redskins Public Relations / Photo: Jorge O. Martínez / CentroDeportivo.com

On if he feels like this has been the most teaching he’s had to do as a quarterback:

“I think my role on the team is changing. I think whether we had injuries or not, that probably is going to happen. Two years ago, I’m a first-year starter playing with very experienced receivers, Pro Bowl-type receivers, and that’s a different dynamic than being now in my third year starting and working with younger players. I enjoy that opportunity to communicate and lead and teach and share experience. It’s hard to help coach on the field if you haven’t been there before and learned from already having been out there. I’m just going to draw on my previous experiences as a young player and try to impart that to the guys around me – if they need it. A lot of them don’t, but I’ll speak up when necessary and enjoy that opportunity and that part of quarterbacking.

On how often he had to explain the calls to new players on Thursday:

“Probably not as often as you might think or as I might’ve thought going into the game. I was pretty impressed with Byron Marshall and his ability to be on the details right away. Pretty much at all the other positions, guys knew for the most part what they were doing. Arie Kouandjio had been here before for a while. Tony Bergstrom has been around the league and he’s a professional, so guys knew what they were doing. It was a short week, but handled it well and I’ll continue to just give tips and reminders as we leave the huddle whenever I can.”

On if there was a specific situation where he could have communicated a call better:

“Yeah. So, like, the interception, there’s a little grey there on that protection. A lot of times we have both – the tight end to my right and the running back to my left – both running flat routes, but with certain route concepts behind it, we sometimes like the halfback specifically to run a different route. Chris Thompson, probably without saying, would have known maybe where I wanted him and I forgot to remind Byron and I told him after the fact. I said, ‘You’re really not wrong, because in that protection, really you’re supposed to run a flat route. But, with this route behind it, we’d probably like in this specific play for you to run a different route.’ You kind of have those conversations after the fact. What’s cool about Byron is when I say that, he gets it right away and he said, ‘That makes sense, got it,’ and we had a good conversation about it. I think Byron’s a player that excites me. He has some juice to him. He can catch the football and has a good sense of the game. There was some carryover from Philadelphia’s offense to our offense and he just seems to understand football pretty well. I think he’s got a lot of potential going forward.”

On his trust in WR Jamison Crowder on the off-schedule touchdown and if they would have had that trust in years past:

“I don’t know. Hard to say if I would have made that play. I think in a lot of ways, there’s a lot that’s routine about that play in terms of how open he was. I think the Giants would tell you that he shouldn’t be that open. It’s a great play, but rarely does a player get that open, especially on third-and-15. I think it goes back more to maybe I don’t break the pocket or try to scramble, maybe I just throw it away or take a check-down. I don’t know. There are probably other plays I would point to that are different from 2015, maybe where I’ve chosen to take off and run. I’ve done that a little more this year that I didn’t do in the past. A few more opportunity balls down the field to some receivers that I probably wouldn’t have thrown in the past.”

On if Crowder would have known to work back toward Cousins on that play:

“I think that it’s a big part of this whole off-schedule thing is that in practice, we do it so few times. Not only then do I not get a lot of practice at it, but our receivers don’t. For example, I sprinted out to my right on a third-and-goal play at the end of the first half and I would have loved for Ryan Grant to know to work back. He was running basically the opposite direction I was, which makes it a hard throw – an unrealistic throw – and I really wanted him to stop and run back and trace me in the pattern I was running. We just so rarely do that in practice, it’s hard to then say to Ryan, ‘Hey, do that in a game,’ and suddenly just flip a switch and know to do that. How would he know to do that? So, it’s something that I think we need to practice more. You hate to do that because you hate to quit on a play; you want to work on your plays in practice and not say, ‘All right, we’re going to basically use this rep to work on a play that doesn’t work and scramble.’ But, that’s something that we’re trying to get better at that. My point in saying all that is that to play off-schedule and scramble requires everybody working. Crowder’s got to jump back to the football the way he did on that touchdown. It’s not just one thing.”

On if he addresses plays where receivers are one-yard short on third downs:

“Yeah, the flat route to Maurice Harris, we were a half-yard short. I’m going to first of all look at, can I throw the ball in a way – like, could I have maybe stopped Josh [Doctson] with the ball instead of bringing him back downhill, where if I stop him with the ball, maybe he’s already at the first down marker. So that’s where you can start, first of all. Second of all, then you say, ‘All right, if I did bring you downhill and kind of put you in a tough spot,’ yeah, I would challenge him. Can you sense the first down marker before the ball’s even snapped? Can you eye where the first down marker is? Have a feel for where your route needs to go to, and then once you catch it, know where you are on the field and try to fall forward? Same for Maurice Harris. Again, you’d like to think that goes back to, hey, younger players and younger receivers, and they’ve seen that happen now. I’d like to think that in the future, they would just say, ‘Hey, I can’t let that happen.’”

On the difference in the game plan from the first meeting vs. the Cowboys:

“I think their personnel changes things too depending on who is healthy for them and who is out. I think that can also affect the way they approach us. There’s no doubt that I believe in that last few weeks that our personnel that we’ve put on the field affects what our opposing defensive coordinator is calling. I had heard through the grapevine that the Saints had one game plan if Jordan Reed was up and that had a different game plan if Jordan Reed was down. So I do think that what teams are going to do against us is going to vary based on who they think can beat them and who they aren’t as worried about and they’re going to plan accordingly. Based on who we bring into the game, based on who they bring into the game, I think personnel will affect those schemes quite a bit.”

On if teams are rolling coverages toward WR Josh Doctson:

“I think teams have had different plans. I remember the Vikings had Xavier Rhodes travel with Josh, which surprised me, really, because they had played pretty much left and right on film and yet they wanted to make sure they had their best corner on Josh throughout the entire game no matter where he lined up. Teams vary their coverages. I noticed the Giants’ – more predominantly this past game – was to rush three players, drop eight players in zone coverage or to play man coverage underneath with two high safeties. They were playing a lot of coverage and they were still getting some pressure with three guys so maybe that’s why they like doing that. Each game, each week, you’re going to see what they want to do. Sometimes they have a plan going in and if you convert a couple third downs, they scrap that plan and they have to change it up on the fly. You never know what their plan is as it evolves.”

On if his personal game plan changes each week based on who is playing offensively:

“The game plan changes drastically. What our coaches are going to put in and then what they’re coaching me to do and how they’re coaching me to read the defense is going to change quite a bit based on the personnel that we have. Sure, my thought process as I drop back is going to certainly factor in personnel and what guys have been there before and done that and how many reps do we have banked in a certain play or experience in and where we are a little newer and sometimes just have to… we have to trust it. We have to go and just play and believe that however new this player is, he’s got to make the play. He’s got a jersey and a number and he can do it.”

On the age to which he thinks he can play:

“That’s a good question, Master. I’ve always fel, like my dream would be to be able to walk away from the game on my terms, rather than to say, ‘Oh, my body couldn’t do it anymore,’ or, ‘The team cut me because I wasn’t good enough.’ So it’s a dream of mine to be able to leave this game on my terms where I could still do it, but I say, ‘No, I’m good.’ And that goes back to taking care of yourself, eating right. That’s why I invested in a hyperbaric chamber. That’s why I have a lot of people praying for me. You want to have those things around you that give you that chance. There’s no doubt that other than Peyton Manning, the best quarterbacks in this league, the most established ones in this league when I entered the league in 2012 are all still here. They haven’t… nothing’s changed in six seasons. I find that interesting that they haven’t really made room for anybody else to come in because they’re all still there in the same roles they were in back in 2012. I hope… They’ve set the bar really high and I hope that the next wave of young quarterbacks, guys that are my age or in their 20s, can hopefully repeat the process in the next wave of guys and that we can still be there for a long time. I’m certainly going to do everything in my power – during the season, in the offseason, in my lifestyle, the way I operate – to make sure that I’m out there and can play for a very long time and provide a good return on investment.” 

On wanting to go out on his own terms:

“I would just hate to be told I can no longer play if I want to. I think the ability to have that freedom to say, ‘It’s my choice and the ball is in my court,’ I think that’s the dream and you never want to be told that you can’t do something that you want to do. As long as I want to be here I hope I can give myself that chance but most guys – very, very few, one percent of one percent – get to leave the game on their terms.”

On if he measures himself differently in the later part of seasons:

“Not really. I always look at the ‘why’ behind a poor play, a poor performance and sometimes the why isn’t, ‘I have to get better.’ In a win, sometimes the why is I have to get better. We have to do some things. I’m always looking at the reason behind a poor finish or whatever it may be. I just look at it right now as we are in a position that we really have these one-game… We have got to go 1-0 each week. If we do that, we do have a chance at the end of this season, but we can’t put ourselves in that position at the end of December unless we win this week. So there is really no point in looking beyond this week and that’s where I am going to focus. If we can go 1-0 each week, then we will put ourselves in a good position down the stretch. Yeah, do everything we can to make sure we finish strong. We always talk about starting fast and finishing strong and we have an opportunity here to finish strong and if we do we could put ourselves in a great position. It starts Thursday night in Dallas and we have no reason to look any further.”

On if he is participating in My Cause, My Cleats this year:

“Yeah, I haven’t gotten them yet, so I hope they are on their way. My 501(c)(3) that I have always partnered with is International Justice Mission, based right here in the D.C. area. I will wear cleats that has their slogan on them that says, ‘Until all are free.’ They are committed worldwide to bringing justice to places that don’t have justice. In America, it is hard to understand a culture of impunity, where literally you call 911 and you say someone is invading my home and is stealing and there is nobody to come and get you, to protect you, to fight for you. There are countries and cultures and places where that is the case. And so IJM goes into those places and works with local government authorities and brings justice and brings justice to impunity. That is something that Julie and I have a heart for and we want to raise awareness for it and hopefully… What they need is funding. They need people to support them and their work so we do that passionately and we want to raise awareness and help other people to do the same.”

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