LANDOVER, Md. -- The Washington Redskins keep wanting to see more from quarterback Kirk Cousins before they give him a lot more money. They're trying to build a roster, which is smart. They're trying to be prudent with their money, which is also smart.
Cousins keeps giving them more. He did so once again Sunday night, in a 42-24 win over the Green Bay Packers. All Cousins did was connect on several deep throws; all he did was throw for 375 yards and three touchdowns. As he headed to the locker room after the victory, he passed Washington general manager Scot McCloughan and playfully (we think) yelled, "How do you like me now?!"
Now the Redskins need to be smart and quit thinking anyone can do what Cousins has done. In his past 21 games, Cousins has thrown 41 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Here's what coach Jay Gruden said about that last week: "We can go through the anybodies around the league the last 10 years, and not a lot can do what he's done for the last 20 games."
We can nitpick Cousins' game to death if we want -- we have done so and will continue to do so -- but he's the guy in charge of an explosive offense, one that is the reason Washington remains a strong playoff contender. At 6-3-1, the Redskins will go as far as Cousins takes them.
"He's a beast, man," Redskins tight end Jordan Reed said. "He's a great player. He needs to start getting that credit. He deserves it. He makes plays each week. He's been balling pretty much this whole year."
Green Bay's pass defense isn't very good -- let's be clear about that. But Cousins torched them beyond what others have done. Besides, he has produced against good defenses as well. Entering Sunday, the top four teams when it comes to opposing quarterback's total QBR were the Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens. They had an average opposing QBR of 54.2; Cousins' average QBR against them is 72.4.
This isn't a matter of Cousins having a good game against a bad defense. Cousins has played well for five straight games after an uneven start to the season. There's no doubt the Redskins organization hasn't settled on his being a no-brainer to re-sign. One of the other players they must re-sign is receiver Pierre Garcon, who had his first 100-yard game since 2014 on Sunday. Cousins and Garcon connected for a 70-yard score against the Packers.
Cousins’ offensive line provided ample time to operate, as it has all season. Earlier in the year, Cousins wasn’t always hitting the plays available. That group deserves credit. It handled the Packers’ stunts much better than when Green Bay beat Washington in the playoffs the previous season.
But in a rare prime-time win by the Redskins, it was Cousins who emerged as the watercooler topic.
"He was lights-out," Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson said. "He did everything great. Hopefully, he can stay hot like that."
Cousins connected with Jackson for a 17-yard touchdown. The quarterback looked right at two targets then calmly back to the middle to find Jackson.
Later, Cousins connected with Jamison Crowder on a play on which he climbed the pocket under pressure. But the ball was perfect, and the Redskins scored again. Finally, on a pivotal third-and-7 in the fourth quarter, Cousins again found Crowder in a one-on-one situation and lofted another perfect ball for 53 yards to set up the clinching touchdown.
Coaches liked how Cousins commanded the game, how he constantly made good decisions and reads and how he produced on third downs. Cousins completed seven of nine passes on third down, and each completion resulted in a first down. Both of Crowder's big catches occurred on third down, and they occurred on a night of swirling winds that gusted to around 20 mph.
"We felt like we needed to put it together, and it was good to see him do that," Gruden said.
The Redskins keep saying they want Cousins to stick around for a long time. They also don't want to break the bank for one player. Before handing over the sort of cash it will take to keep Cousins, they wanted to see more.
After Sunday, the question could be: What more do they need to see?