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Five Takeaways: Kirk Cousins' Cardinals Week Presser


Here's five takeaways from Redskins quarterback Trent Williams' media session with reporters on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

1. Cousins feels he is improving this season.

The statistics speak for themselves. Cousins has the 10th-most single-season passing yards in Redskins history right now. With 3,540 yards this season, he has the most passing yards through 11 games of all Redskins quarterbacks and is on pace the shatter the single-season record held by Sonny Jurgensen.

"I think I'm improving as a quarterback, which is no surprise – you expect to get better the longer you work at your craft. I hesitate to use a blanket statement to just say the game's slowing down. I think I'm just improving by nature of continuing to work and get better. Sean [McVay] is doing a great job calling plays. We've got a lot of players on the outside who are making plays for us. The O-line is protecting well. It all has to work together to create production, so I'm just going to continue working and hopefully continue improving."

With five games left, Cousins is hoping to replicate the team's success last December and get hot down the stretch as they hope to retain their currently playoff spot.

"I've always believed that people may forget how you start, but they always remember how you finish, and what a great opportunity for us," Cousins said. "It's not going to be easy, it's going to be a challenge, but we've positioned ourselves now to have a great opportunity to finish strong and time will tell what ends up happening."

2. The Cardinals defense is experienced and mature.

Arizona has the second-ranked pass defense in the league, allowing just 195.1 passing yards per game, offering Cousins the toughest challenge in some time. And while Cardinals gave up 38 points to the Falcons last week, their playmakers – specifically Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson – have the ability to change games with their athletic ability.  

Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 13 game against the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.

"First of all, they're just an experienced, mature football team," Cousins said. "They've won a lot of playoff games, they've been to the playoffs a lot and it's a tough place to play there in Arizona. Just good football players. And it's not just one area. I mean, they have a good pass rush, good interior D-linemen, great linebackers and a great secondary that has playmakers. So they can get you in all different phases of the game. And it'll be a big challenge for us, but the numbers speak for themselves with their defense with what they're doing statistically and we'll have a big challenge in front of us."

With a pass rusher such as Chandler Jones, who the Redskins faced last year against the Patriots, the Redskins know the Cardinals have threats at every level of the defense.

"They do a good job with their fronts and with their pressures.," Cousins said. "They have many different players who are all good athletes so they can rotate a lot of different people in and they don't have much of a dropoff. So there's good talent there, and they're a top defense for a reason. Once again, we've got to have good practices this week, we've got to be focused in the film room and really communicating well to all be on the same page come Sunday afternoon."

3. The lack of three and outs are a positive sign.

The Redskins have only committed 11 three-and-outs this entire season, the fewest in the league. That's been extremely helpful, for both the offense finding a rhythm and the defense getting extra rest on the sideline.

But it's also meant that punter Tress Way doesn't get to punt very often. Well, hardly at all. Because the offense has managed to stay on the field for prolonged periods of time, Way has been limited to well below his season average (he has just 29 total punts this year). Cousins, who sits close to Way in the locker room, knows that's a good sign for the offense.

"I never noticed it prior to this season, but a few weeks into the season, I went over to Tress Way and said, 'How many times have you punted? We're not really using you on the field and you're one of our better players, but we're not really using you.' And he said, 'Yeah, Kirk, actually we've punted the fewest in the league.'

Cousins asked his punter about the correlation between a good offense and the lack of punts, and Way explained that the best offensive teams have punters that see the field fewer times on average.

"We've talked about it many times, and ultimately it's all about points," Cousins said. "It doesn't really matter if you're not coming away with points. That's where the red zone and things like that are more important. But it's an indication of doing some good things on offense and not having three-and-outs certainly keeps Tress Way on the sideline more often than not."

4. Cousins will be wearing cleats this Sunday for International Justice Mission.

The NFL has designated Week 13 as "My Cleats My Cause" week, in which players will be unpunished for wearing special, customized cleats to promote a charity or cause of their choice.

Cousins has chosen International Justice Mission, an organization he has championed for quite some time, that protects the poor from violence in the developing world.

"From the 'You Like That' game, we were able to give the money raised from the T-shirts to IJM and I've always wanted to get behind them," Cousins said. "So I'll be wearing cleats with the blue of the color of their organization and just the IJM logo on one cleat and 'Until All Are Free,' their slogan, which is on the hat as well, on the other cleat. It's just a cool opportunity to support their work."

5. He's a big fan of musical theater.

Each week it seems we learn something new about quarterback Kirk Cousins, and Wednesday's press conference was no different. After tight end Vernon Davis mentioned that the quarterback knew many of the lyrics to the Broadway musical "Hamilton," Cousins was asked about his affinity for the Broadway play.

"I don't know all the words, but I'm a big Broadway fan. I love musical theater – my mom kind of raised me on that," Cousins said. "When the Super Bowl was in New York City a couple of years ago, I went to a Broadway show and just was blown away. I went to the Chicago Theater a lot growing up. With *Hamilton *now being out, I talked to, I believe it was Vernon, who said he had been and I said I wanted to go see that."

This, of course, shouldn't come as too much a surprise considering videos of Cousins singing and dancing in high school and, more briefly, at Michigan State, have made their way around the internet. Cousins, for his part, doesn't mind that his hobby makes him seem a little less masculine to some.

"I know in our culture they say that singing and dancing may not be the most masculine thing to do, but for whatever reason, when I was growing up, my mom and my dad they raised me to be secure in yourself and to just appreciate it," Cousins said. "So I have a huge appreciation for singing and dancing. And, again, those guys are very athletic and they can do some impressive things. So I enjoy it for what it is and was raised to appreciate it. It's not easy what they do. It takes the kind of practice and intensity and focus that we have to have on the football field too."

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