EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The mistakes continued; so will the status quo. Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden said the intent remains to start quarterback Kirk Cousins for the remainder of the season.
But Gruden also said he wanted to analyze the film before making “any kind of crazy decisions.”
Cousins has shown positive flashes during the Redskins’ first six games. However, he’s also thrown two interceptions in four different games -- and in 20 career games he’s thrown multiple picks 10 times.
“We stand behind Kirk,” Gruden said.
For those who believe Gruden makes excuses for Cousins, the chorus probably grew louder after the 34-20 loss to the New York Jets. There were built-in excuses for the offensive struggles, starting with four starters sidelined with injuries: left tackle Trent Williams, center Kory Lichtensteiger, receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end Jordan Reed.
The result was an offense that could not run the ball -- 34 yards on 17 carries -- and relied heavily on Cousins. He completed 25 of 43 passes for 196 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Redskins are 4-22 since the start of the 2012 season when attempting 35 or more passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It’s clear: without a run game, they’ll struggle to win.
“I’ll have to look at the film,” Gruden said, “[but] it was a little windy. He had a lot of pressure on him, really. There were a lot of things going on pre-snap that he’s got to deal with, getting the formations, the protections and all that. ... Overall you hate to pin this game on Kirk. I know he could have played better, but we had no running game whatsoever and Kirk’s not in that stage of his career right now, nor is anybody on our roster, to carry our team throwing the ball as much as we had to.”
Cousins’ first interception occurred with the game tied at 13, when he threw into zone coverage after his primary options were covered. But he threw it right to corner Darrelle Revis. One play later the tie was broken; the rout was on. Again, Gruden’s comments won’t please the Cousins skeptics.
“That was a tough play,” Gruden said. “He’s not the only quarterback in history that’s made a poor decision or a poor throw and it won’t be the last time he does it. He’s a young quarterback and he’ll learn from it. We all will.”
Cousins, though, said he knows in hindsight that he needed to throw the ball away (his second one came on a third-down deep ball that served as, in essence, a 43-yard punt in the eyes of the Redskins).
“I certainly don’t want to be throwing interceptions,” Cousins said.
What he can’t afford to do is doubt himself.
“If I start to doubt, then I’m not going to be able to get to the level I want to go,” Cousins said. “I just have to keep going and learn from the mistakes. The key is to identify what’s the issue and get it corrected. If I start to question or doubt, I might as well throw in the towel.”