Posted December 15, 2013

Kirk Cousins comes up just short in up-and-down effort at Atlanta

Atlanta Falcons, NFC East, Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins threw for 381 yards in the second start of his NFL career.

Kirk Cousins threw for 381 yards in the second start of his NFL career. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

If Mike Shanahan, Daniel Snyder or any Washington fans were hoping Sunday’s game might provide some sort of definite conclusion about Kirk Cousins’ potential, either as competition for Robert Griffin III or as offseason trade bait, they likely came away disappointed.

Cousins threw for 381 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions, one lost fumble and misfired on a two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds as Washington fell to Atlanta.

The first-half returns were much better than what came later. Cousins coughed the ball up on a strip-sack early — a play that his offensive line certainly deserves most of the blame for — but recovered to rack up 248 yards passing and a pair of scores before the break. Two ugly INTs followed, the first on a play-action fake from Washington’s 1, a mistake that helped Atlanta grab the lead for good.

Shanahan said Friday during a radio appearance that a strong showing from Cousins over the final three weeks of the season could help Washington move him in the coming months.

“If he lights it up, hey, maybe we can bring a first-round draft choice back to this organization, and say, ‘Hey, who are we gonna take in the first round?’ ” Shanahan said. “And I think by him playing and Robert not playing, it gives us a chance to have a few options for our organization that we wouldn’t normally have, and the safety of our quarterback going into the offseason is preserved … And we’re still getting a chance to see a guy that we’ve got a lot of confidence in go out there and play. And his value can only go up. It cannot go down. It can only go up.”

Shanahan’s last point might be up for debate, but Cousins definitely looked the part of an NFL starter early Sunday. He stretched the field repeatedly against a shoddy Atlanta defense over the opening two quarters, hitting Fred Davis on a pretty 23-yard touchdown and then Pierre Garcon from 53.

Had he continued on in that fashion, the Cousins hype might have blown through the roof heading into Washington’s Week 16 game versus Dallas.

As it is, Cousins played as expected: an inconsistent effort in his first start in a year, and just his second NFL start overall. There was more than enough upside shown, even in defeat, to warrant two more starts with Griffin shelved. And the confidence on display — not to mention the ability to beat defenses downfield — ought to keep any teams eyeballing Cousins tuned in for the duration.

Of course, Cousins was hardly the lone culprit in Washington’s latest setback. The Redskins turned the ball over seven times in total, with Santana Moss and Alfred Morris each coughing it up twice. That Cousins even had a shot to win the game late given all those errors was rather remarkable.

Washington’s last drive was an impressive, patient display by Cousins, too. Taking over at his own 20-yard line, Cousins led a 13-play, 80-yard drive over the next 3:07, capping it off by firing a touchdown to Moss. Unfortunately for the Redskins, who played for the win instead of the tie, Cousins’ ensuing two-point pass sailed high for a covered Garcon, cementing the loss.  (By the way, that outcome was great news for the Rams, who hold Washington’s first-round pick in the 2014 draft.)

It was a fitting result for a Washington team that was sloppy and undisciplined Sunday. And it probably was a deserved outcome for Cousins, as he mixed some regretful moments with flashes of brilliance.

32 comments
SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

He's a third round draft pick and there were reasons he was not a first round pick. You think one pro start makes this guy an elite NFL QB. OK 2 starts with the second one being mediocre. You want to call a guy an elite pro QB or someone with potential to be an elite pro QB do it over a bunch of games not 2!

bhayes420
bhayes420

Given the circumstances, I thought Cousins played about as well as you could expect.  He didn't pull a Romo and lose the game himself.  The team was MUCH more competitive this week with Cousins under center than last week with RG3.  And the 2-point play was the correct call.  The team isn't going to the playoffs.  Play to win!  

rkcla08
rkcla08

380 yards in contribution after coming in cold as a backup?  i'll give you 31-teams who would gladly take that.  perhaps the author should look deeper into the team surrounding cousins in the loss, and so too should the detractors.

face it, the 'skins suck and it it isn't a one-man fix...

SeanPatrickBurke
SeanPatrickBurke

Where you watching the game? Up and down?? Considering the circumstances, he CRUSHED IT.

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

Yes Kirk can't stop the streak because he threw 2 picks and had a lost fumble, but lets ignore that part of it.. if Kirk had a better game he would equal what RG3 did ALL of last year... it just shows the difference between the two..Kirk's game, some are accepting it as good....  yet it is below the standards Rg3 set for himself

Atlanta was 3-10 for a reason..... The Skins gave them 7 turnovers and the falcons won by 1 point...

and the Skins cannot beat this team.. lol

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The NFC east was 0-4 this Sunday. How the devil did Dallas find ANOTHER way to lose. It simply boggles the mind. 26-3 at halftime. Sweet Lord.

Herb2
Herb2

Griffin was better than Cousins in college because he could run the read option.  But Cousins is a much better pro-style player than Griffin.  Because of their enormous investment in Griffin, Washington has no choice but  to keep him and trade Cousins.  The team that gets Cousins will have an elite QB for a long time.  

me1
me1

And the war on words continue...but what do the stats say? Win for Cousins...loss for RGIII. Surprising? Not really.

kendp
kendp

I read the ESPN game recap.  Cousins itemized his errors and the missed 2 point conversion and took much the responsibility for the loss.  Much different than RGIII who blamed other team members for the losses.

EdAppiah
EdAppiah

This article is silly. Kirk played better in a losing effort than RG3 all year except for maybe the 1st half of the Vikings game. It's the little things I noticed. Kirk was hitting receivers in stride as opposed to RG who throws it too low. I can't recall was Kirk sacked in this game? RG3 practically has to pick himself off the turf every play. The last thing the Redskins should do is trade Kirk. Keep both of them next year and let them compete.

pamperofirpo
pamperofirpo

This article is insane. Cousins' performance was far superior to any game for Griffin this season. If Cousins was the starter from the beginning of the year, Washington at worst would be 7-7 at this point. The Redskins should keep Cousins...and trade RGme.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Atlanta took the ball away seven times and managed to win by a point. Not much to brag about there. But a win is a win, I suppose. Washington, in the meantime, continues to be Washington. 

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

@SandersonKramer 

dont forget about the 4th round pick the Skins used on Kirk to move up in the 3rd round... so far 6tds and 5 ints with a chance to pad his stats against a terrible Cowboys defence...

Matt Flynn 5 tds and McCown 4Tds so if Kirk needs to burn that Cowboys defense to be on the Level of a Matt Flynn mind you matt's numbers are from knowning the packers system for Years

fmfrijoles
fmfrijoles

@SandersonKramerummm....see Matt Flynn, Matt Schaub, Rob Johnson, Mark Brunell, etc.....for countless answers to your idiotic question.

fmfrijoles
fmfrijoles

@bhayes420the falcons are not the chiefs....and playing in a dome is not playing in a snow slush crapfest. the 2pt call was a mistake

riley8
riley8

@SeanPatrickBurke he sure did crush it  against one of the worst teams in the NFL.  btw the skins lost.  must be rg3's fault.  i blame bush!  

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

@kendp 

How can it be a good reead ????

The writer blames bad coaching, something people were saying from the start but it only became bad coaching when Kirk is playing.. The tteam is terrible , Krik is average at best... The witer ignores Kirk's 2 ints and 1 FUMBLE which was a big reason the Skins lost... The OFFENSE look worst than its normal self...aside from a few flashy plays...


Rg3 is not throwing 2 picks and turning over the ball 3 times a game.. the Team had 7 turnovers .. how can YOU READ THAT CRAP and call it good....

bhayes420
bhayes420

@Herb2 I don't know about "elite," but I think Cousins can play.  Just have to see what the next two games bring.  

Cool
Cool

@Herb2 I agree with what you say about styles, but disagree about the investment part.  Because of the restructuring of how much first and second year players can make, Washington isn't into RGIII like some other teams have invested on their QB's.

doghockey
doghockey

@pamperofirpoYou are going to take one game against a team that was 3-10 coming in and extrapolate that into four more wins for the Redskins?  Nice try.  Stuff like that is why I keep coming back to these forums.  Thanks!

Cool
Cool

@pamperofirpo Agreed, I looked at Cousins stats and said holy f... not bad for having not started in so long.  I guess this writer wanted Cousins to win the game all by himself or he wasn't going to be impressed.  How many times would RGIII have been sacked in this game?  

SandersonKramer
SandersonKramer

@fmfrijoles@SandersonKramer Genius you verified my comment. Matt Flynn sucks and couldn't start anywhere, Rob Johnson sucked,Schaub was good, Brunnel was OK. Learn to read English in the future.

jfrancis_sp
jfrancis_sp

Pretty sure when @cool references "investment" he is speaking to the amount of draft picks given up to get RGIII. If I'm Washington, I wait another year to decide my QB of the future. Kirk seems the better pro on the field and off with his maturity off it.

ianforbes
ianforbes

@bhayes420@riley8@SeanPatrickBurkeand Matt Flynn threw for 6 TD's and 480 yards last year when Rogers was injured. Not sure what your point is. Are you saying Flynn should have replaced Rogers as the starting QB based on his great game?

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

@justsomeguy

Are you stupid from birth , or did you pick up your stupidity and now it follows you AROUND like a bad smell.... STOP speaking after talking heads on your TV they rarely do their homework...

THE SKINS DID NOT  give up three first round picks... they gave 2 first round picks to switch positions in the first round so the third one does not count so its actually two first round picks and a second round pick...

For the Rookie of the year not bad deal... For Kirk they spent a 3th round pick and 4th round pick for a guy that rarely plays and those picks could have been used to fill other areas....

In Kirks playing time 6 tds and 5 ints not to mention his fumbles you can get that from REX ....