The Washington Redskins scored a season-high 31 points in their victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Quarterback Kirk Cousins accounted for three of the team’s four touchdowns, but Redskins Coach Jay Gruden described his outing as “okay” after the game.
Gruden was asked Monday whether the expectations for Cousins, who is playing on the franchise tag this year at $19.95 million, were too high given his one-year salary. Cousins was 21 of 27 for 183 yards and three touchdowns, one interception and a 116.5 quarterback rating.
“I don’t know about that,” Gruden responded. “There’s always going to be high expectations for the quarterback, but he was 21 of 27 with three touchdowns and got the victory. So he did some good things. If I talked about all the good things he did, I’d be up here for a while. If I talked about the bad things, it’s only going to be a couple — which is good. Expectations are going to be high for him. This offense has very high expectations we have on each other, and it’s never going to change. But I think he played pretty well, good enough to get the win, but there are some things that we have to fix with Kirk.”
Cousins is out to prove that his 2015 performance wasn’t a fluke in order to receive a long-term deal during the offseason. The statistics would suggest that Cousins has had a good season so far. He’s fifth in the NFL with 1,172 passing yards and 13th in completion percentage among qualified passers at 66.2 percent.
In Sunday’s performance, Cousins helped the Redskins jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with two touchdown passes to tight end Jordan Reed in the red zone. He extended the play on his second touchdown pass by rolling out of the pocket to find Reed in the back of the end zone.
“That’s something that has to come naturally, and he did a nice job of that,” Gruden said. “Two hands on the ball, stepped around him, and Jordan did a nice job of getting open for him. That’s half the battle right there.”
Cousins has made some costly errors, however. He threw his fourth interception during the second quarter against the Browns, who scored twice in 85 seconds to tie the game at 14 midway through the second quarter. The turnover halted Washington’s momentum, and the Redskins weren’t able to pull away from Cleveland until late in the game.
The Redskins had just five possessions through three quarters as both teams were relying on their running game consistently to milk the clock on long drives. Cousins managed the game in the fourth quarter, with Washington’s offense scoring two touchdowns on its four possessions.
“You’re never going to play perfect, so while the expectations may be very, very high, we may not reach them every time,” Cousins said after the game about the season through four games. “But I think we know as an offense we can be very good, and we’ve shown stretches of that and parts have been very good. It’s always going to be a challenge as long as I’ve been playing football to see if we can do it more consistently, and that’s what we’ll always be talking about — how can we be more and more consistent at a high level, drive in and drive out, week in and week out.”