Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins struggled in Sunday's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, as he had three turnovers to just one touchdown. He understands he can't have a repeat performance this week.
After a preseason in which the Washington Redskins' first-team offense produced mixed results at best, there was optimism that their fortunes would change once the regular season opened against a Philadelphia Eagles team that they had beaten five times in a row.
But from the get-go during Sunday's NFC East tilt, the offense failed to put the Eagles on their toes. Four of Washington's first five possessions ended with Tress Way punts. The possession in which Way didn't appear on, Kirk Cousins fumbled a ball that would be recovered by Philadelphia.
In total, Washington scored just one offensive touchdown to three Cousins turnovers in a 30-17 loss.
"We know that as an offense that we have to play better," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "Line has to play better, tight ends have to play better, backs have to play better, our receivers have to play a lot better, our quarterback has to play better."
The Redskins had two backbreaking turnovers in the fourth quarter when the game was still well within reach.
Early in the final frame, Cousins drove Washington from its own 36-yard line into the red zone in just four plays. But on 3rd-and-6 with the Redskins trailing by just two at 19-17, Cousins made a critical mistake.
Off a three-step dropback, Cousins, throwing off his back foot, overthrew an open Jamison Crowder as he was trying to find Terrelle Pryor Sr. instead for a touchdown. The ball would soar over Crowder's head and into the hands of Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills, who caught the ball at the goal line and returned it 15 yards.
"There's a play there to be made to Jamison and that's the frustrating part," Cousins said. "We can hit that, but I was trying to take Terrelle [Pryor Sr.] to a spot that I shouldn't be trying to take him. My eyes were in the wrong place and it leads to what you saw. It's disappointing. You've got to be able to make that play there. I think if we do, we probably get the first down to Jamison, if not, he scores and it's a different ball game. Those are the plays you look at and say, 'I've got to be better.'"
Gruden said a similar mistake was made last year in a 31-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, as Cousins tried to find Crowder for a potential late touchdown but instead was intercepted by six-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson.
"It was the same exact route and the same exact outcome," Gruden said. "When you have a free hitter in your face, you have got to do a good job of drifting and trying to make a good throw. The ball just got away from him."
After Washington's defense limited the Eagles to just a field goal with 1:59 left in the game, Cousins and Co. still had time to drive down the field for a game-winning touchdown.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2017 Week 1 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles Sept. 10, 2017, at FedExField.
The comeback attempt was thwarted just two plays into the drive, though, as the Eagles forced a fumble on Cousins and would return it for a touchdown.
Cousins had little time to survey his weapons, as Brandon Graham was in the backfield just as the quarterback was cocked in his throwing motion.
Despite Cousins motioning that it was a forward pass and should have been ruled incomplete, referee Brad Allen said he had "lack of control in the hand," thus upholding the call on the field of a fumble and officially eliminating any potential of a comeback.
"They have time to take a look at it and get it right. They made the call they made," Cousins said. "So, I'm not going to lose sleep over that. It's the plays that led up to the moment and those are the ones that I want back."
Washington's focus now turns toward facing a Los Angeles Rams defense that smothered the Indianapolis Colts in a 46-9 victory. Not only did the Rams hold the Colts to just nine points, they became the first team in NFL history to record two pick-sixes and a safety in a season opener.
The Redskins must be at their best against the Wade Phillips-led unit to ensure Los Angeles doesn't repeat that performance.
"We just have to keep practicing," Gruden said. "That's what we are out here for on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. We have to do a good job of getting these guys on the same page and calling plays they're comfortable with that they can run. We have to get our tight ends more involved and Chris Thompson more involved in the passing game if we have to. …But we will get it together, without a doubt. Those guys will have good chemistry sooner than later."