Redskins coach Jay Gruden on Kirk Cousins: We'd like to keep him around

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins will have a decision to make on Kirk Cousins. Jay Gruden’s mind sounds made up.

Cousins can become a free agent after the season and it’s still uncertain what direction his situation will go. But the one thing Washington wanted to see from Cousins was consistency. In the last three games, he’s played much more consistently.

Cousins has started 18 games in the NFL, including all nine this season. But he’s auditioning for a new general manager, Scot McCloughan, who did not draft him. McCloughan will have the final say in whether Cousins returns. Gruden said they’re keeping the discussions in-house for now, but a source says there have not yet been any talks discussing an extension.

“Obviously, Kirk’s a guy we’d like to keep around, no doubt,” Gruden said. “But that’ll be up to Scot and Kirk’s agent and Kirk.”

The Redskins might not be in position to draft a quarterback of their liking in the first round next spring, especially if they win a few more games. And Cousins might end up being one of the best quarterbacks available in free agency (Sam Bradford is the biggest name on the list).

In the last three games, Cousins has a combined passer rating of 117.1 -- and that includes the game vs. New England when he finished at 68.4 (hurt by at least seven drops). He’s coming off statistically his best game, completing 20-of-25 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns in a 47-14 win over New Orleans.

“You definitely see progress every week,” Gruden said of Cousins. “Every day out here in practice you see progress and that's what you want to see in a young quarterback and you want to see in all your players. Obviously the quarterback position is very important so it's magnified on a play-by-play basis and he's answered the challenge and done a good job.”

The Redskins made a controversial decision, to outsiders at least, when they benched Robert Griffin III before the season and inserted Cousins. He’s completed 67.9 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions and a passer rating of 89.9. Eight of his interceptions occurred in four games.

“He’s making good decisions and letting the people around him do the work for him,” Gruden said. “[Sunday] was a great example, hitting the check downs and guys were running for 15 or 20 yards on a screen pass and finding his outlets, or taking his shots when he needs to, third-and-5 to DeSean [Jackson] a great matchup, threw a perfect ball. He's just making good decisions and that's what that position is all about.”

Sunday, Cousins dumped the ball off quite often allowing his receivers to run after the catch. The Redskins gained 260 yards after the catch. It’s something the coaches have preached, but it’s not always accomplished.

“It's a matter of seeing it first hand and it'll make you a believer, getting the ball out of your hand,” Gruden said, “not taking unnecessary hits in the pocket and letting players who get paid a lot of money around you make the plays for you.

“We have some good players, very good weapons around him and if we can get the ball out in space, things will happen, but we have to get them the ball. Find unique ways to get them open. Sometimes quick outlet throws, take some shots, but overall I think it's still up to the quarterback to make those decisions and let the players play.”