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Quotes: Quarterback Kirk Cousins (12-14-2016)

QB Kirk Cousins

On why he's been able to find WR DeSean Jackson deep the last few weeks:

"In a couple of the instances that we have hit him, it's been dictated by my read. I said to you those weeks, 'I go where my reads take me,' and I wasn't lying to you. In those situations my reads took me to him. So when you have the play call against a certain coverage, he gets the football. If you don't have that, then someone else will. We're fortunate to get those situations where he can change the game like that on one catch, one play."

On if WR Pierre Garçon has gotten the ball more in recent weeks in part because of TE Jordan Reed's injury:

"I think no matter who's on the field we spread it around. So if Jordan is out you bring in Derek Carrier and Vernon [Davis] and they get touches too. So the ball gets spread around. You saw Rob Kelley had a couple of catches on Sunday. So it's really just whoever's in the game and where the play ends up taking you. But there's no doubt that Pierre still has that ability to go down the field and still has that speed that was brought here to have four or five years ago. So he hasn't really lost that as he's gotten older, which is a testament to the way he works in the offseason, the way he continues to take care of himself. And he is very versatile in that way where he can give you a lot of different routes in the pass game. He's not one-dimensional."

On how Garçon runs his routes in practice as compared to games:

"Well, he always practices really hard and I think that goes back to his days in Indianapolis with a really good offense and some Hall of Famers in Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne and playing with Peyton Manning. I think there was a standard of excellence there that he knows no other way to do it. So he's always done it at that high level, but he's a very explosive athlete so there's also some natural ability there that you can't coach that when he does run his routes, he gets in and out of cuts in a very powerful, explosive way that is unique to him. And pound for pound he could be the most powerful, explosive guy on the team with the athleticism that he has."

On last season's game against the Panthers:

"I remember Carolina being one of the better teams we played all year, certainly one of the better defenses we played all year. A lot of the same players are back so we're going to have our hands full. I remember we had five turnovers and if we turn the ball over again we can expect a similar result. We've got to protect the football and if we do that, we've got a chance, but if we turn it over, we'll put ourselves in a hole just like we did last year."

On to what he attributes his accuracy on passes downfield in recent weeks:

"I don't know. I think it's getting the right plays against the right coverages and hitting those throws, but I've always felt like we've been pretty efficient when we do take our shots, so hard to say why the numbers might show it's been better as of late. Guys are making plays and the play calls are happening at the right times against the right coverages. It puts me in a position to be successful."

On how much he can work on throwing downfield:

"There's definitely always… you're building that chemistry where you're figuring out where guys should be. I think when you throw the ball down the field sometimes you have to let the ball go with some trust. I think the Arizona game was an example where DeSean [Jackson] caught that deep ball and when I let the ball go he hadn't quite gotten on top of the defensive back yet. You just trust that down the field he'll eventually pull away. And that's through years really of throwing with him and realizing how that plays out. But other players are no different and you rep these plays over and over in training camp and in practice and you get a feel for them. And that builds that trust and understanding of coverages and reads and when to let the ball go with anticipation."

On the Panthers' rookie corners:

"I think they're playing well. I think that especially when you factor in that they're rookies, it's hard to come into this league and play right away and understand coverages and concepts and play fast. So very impressive that they've been able to play at a high level as rookies. It's not easy to do."

On comparing the Panthers' defense from last season to this season:

"I do think their defense is still very good. Like I said, a lot of the same players and very smart players, so we expect a great challenge. I think any team you play, it happened to be against a really good defense last year, but if we had turned the ball over five times against anybody else, we probably would've been blown out as well. We made it tough on our defense. We gave them a short field and we weren't able to score points and were turning it over. If we were to do that against anybody, we were going to have an uphill battle. And I think that was a big part of how the game got away from us and that's why ball security and turnover margins are such important stats and tend to favor winning teams."

On his growth since the last game against the Panthers:

"Hopefully we don't turn it over five times. I think growth would be to protect the football going forward. Any game, anything can happen, but you would like to think we're a more mature team when it comes to managing, and each play had a reason. One was an overthrow to DeSean for an interception. You'd like to think that that ball would maybe would be thrown a little bit more accurately now. You'd like to think so. I'm still going to miss throws but you'd like to think that as you get better those plays don't happen. One was a corner blitz that ended up hitting me in the back and I fumbled. One was a short edge where I was looking left and I fumbled getting stripped. Another one was a running back fumbled. So you just hope that as a football team you're a little more mature and you protect the ball better and can avoid those turnovers."

On if he thought RB Chris Thompson should have allowed the Redskins to run the clock instead of scoring:

"It had been mentioned [but] didn't get into me, so I didn't communicate it to Chris. In hindsight, I think we talked about the opportunity to notify Chris that, 'Hey, if you do break through, go down at the one and then we can talk about running the clock down and then try to score late when there is very little time left to do anything if you give the ball back to them.' With what happened in the Cincinnati game, I think there would have been some consternation with just settling for a field goal. You never want to leave it up to a play when you know you had an opportunity to score. But we certainly didn't notify the running back and notify the offense. That's where situational football is so important. Going back to your question about being a different football team, the longer we play together as a unit – and when I'm talking about we, I mean from Jay [Gruden] to Sean [McVay] to myself to Chris Thompson to Trent Williams to Pierre [Garçon] – the longer we play together, the more you can become situational masters and be very good in situational football like that situation at the end of the game, where we all know, 'We've been here before, hey, let's handle this the best way possible and be a mature football team.'"

On if he can relate to Panthers QB Cam Newton's struggles this season:

"If you're asking if I can relate to failure, I would say yes, I can relate to failure. I don't know that Cam has failed at the level that a lot of guys in this league have failed. He's still a very successful player, and believe me, Coach Gruden and the defense is very aware of what he is capable of doing and very nervous about his strengths. Can I relate to it though – being a part of some struggles? Sure, yeah, I can relate to that."

On if he can feel for Newton's recent struggles given Newton's success last season:

"Yeah, and I'm sure he'll be back on top quickly. It's fickle, as you know. This league goes up and down. It pats you on the back one day and then you clearly don't have it figured out the next. I'm sure he'll be fine, and over the long haul, he's going to be a great player in this league. We all know that. Those of us that watch him on film understand how talented he is."

On if CB Josh Norman has shared any insight on the Panthers' defense:

"Yeah, it really goes back to the spring. I knew that when we got to this point there isn't much time to pull him away from his preparation and to take that time. That goes back to April or May, cornering him and saying, 'Hey, can you talk to me about the defense and I'll take some notes and get some thoughts on Carolina's defense so that come the week of the game, it's already there.' So we talked a little bit about the coverages and things, but at the end of the day, it's about executing and being on top of our stuff and just reacting to how they play it."

On how much information he uses from Norman as compared to his own film study:

"It's worth talking through it. It's not like he's going to be able to predict the future, but it's worth it. If he's on your team and he's there and he's available – why not? At least ask. I'm always looking for any opportunity to gain some insight."

On having Norman on his side and how it helps him:

"What I love about Josh – and when I trained with him before the NFL Draft back in 2012, I got a feel for it long before he ever came here – but what I've always loved about him is that he's a worker. There's just a… I know it may not come across in the media with the answers or the way he answers questions, but he's just a quiet, humble leader on this team who goes about his business. You see him stay after practice. Winning matters to him. He's been a part of a winning team and he knows what that looks like. So when you have a veteran player like that who a lot of young players are looking to as an example – and the example he's setting is one of hard work, humility, just staying the course, caring about fundamentals, caring about details in the game plan, you see him make some very important plays in key moments of games. I just think that's a great thing for our culture and trying to go in that direction as an entire organization. I think getting some of your best players to be your best leaders can make a big difference. That's where I guess I'm most pleased with Josh on top of his ability. I saw that back when we were training for the draft when we would do one-on-ones and the way he would approach those and compete, try to really lock guys down. It was impressive back then."

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