The Pro Football Writers of America on Friday announced that they have named Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins as their 2015 co-Most Improved Player of the Year award winner.*
In 2014, Kirk Cousins was given the opportunity to be the Washington Redskins' starting quarterback. But in six total games with five starts, he battled some major inconsistencies, completing 61.8 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns to nine interceptions.
He wouldn't see the field again past Week 7.
But the Michigan State product kept his head in the game, taking advantage of every mental rep the rest of the 2014 season and then putting together a solid offseason workout plan to come back ready to go in 2015, should he ever get another chance in what would be the final year of his rookie contract in Washington.
Cousins got that chance – and, boy, did he ever run with it.
Named the starter the week before the team's Week 1 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, Cousins would throw for a franchise single-season record 4,166 yards to go with 29 passing touchdowns to just 11 interceptions – running for another five touchdowns – as he would lead the Redskins to the NFC East title, their first since 2012.
His tremendous year-to-year rise was recognized on Friday, when the Pro Football Writers of America named Cousins their 2015 Co-Most Improved Player of the Year award winner, an honor he is sharing with Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman.
Cousins is the first Redskins player to win the award since its inception in 2000, and is the first quarterback to be named Most Improved Player of the Year since the Cleveland Browns' Derek Anderson in 2007.
Cousins didn't jump out to the best of starts in 2015, throwing eight interceptions to six touchdowns. But once he settled in to head coach Jay Gruden's offense – and once weapons like Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson were able to overcome injuries to be mainstays in the lineup – Cousins took off.
Check out the top images of Kirk Cousins from the 2015 season.
He was especially potent in the last three weeks of the regular season, throwing 11 touchdown passes to zero interceptions.
Cousins would set team records in passing yards (4,166), attempts (543), completions (379) and 300-yard passing games (seven). Cousins moved the ball through the air efficiently, completing 69.8 percent of passes for the second-highest completion percentage in Redskins history (eighth-best in NFL history) and recording the third-highest passer rating in franchise history (101.6).
In the Redskins' final 10 games, Cousins guided the Redskins to a 7-3 record, throwing for 274 yards per game with 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions en route to an NFC East title, which they claimed with a 38-24 Week 16 drubbing of the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Cousins' hot hand helped the Redskins average 32.8 points per game during a four-game winning streak to close the regular season, most in the NFL in that time frame. He became the first player in team history to throw a touchdown pass in all 16 games in a season since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.
For his efforts, Cousins was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Month for regular season games played in December and January.