Redskins will stay with Kirk Cousins, confident he'll 'bounce back'

ASHBURN, Va. -- The interceptions continue to mount, as do the losses. That hasn't dented Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden's confidence in starting quarterback Kirk Cousins.

Rather than make a change, Gruden wants to see how Cousins responds to another two-interception game.

Gruden reiterated his belief in Cousins, one day after a 34-20 loss to the New York Jets in which the quarterback tossed two more picks. He's now thrown eight interceptions in six games for the 2-4 Redskins.

"Kirk gives us the best chance to win, still," Gruden said. "I want to see him fight through this. That's going to be the making of a strong person, a strong football player. How they react to some tough times and how they improve. I'm excited to see him bounce back and have a big bounce-back game this week and the coming weeks. We'll see how it goes."

Gruden's decision to start Cousins remains under scrutiny in part because of the player he replaced: Robert Griffin III.

But Griffin hasn't even been the primary backup this season, instead serving as the No. 3 passer behind Colt McCoy.

In six games, Cousins has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 1,420 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions.

He has thrown two interceptions in a game four times this season; the Redskins have lost all four. In his career, Cousins has thrown multiple picks in 10 of the 20 games in which he's played. He has started 16 games.

But Gruden said he's noticed improvement in Cousins.

"Over the course of the game and over the course of these six games, he's made some good decisions and some great throws," Gruden said. "We tend to reflect on the negative ones, and he's had a few. There have been a few. But there have been a few in just about every quarterback that has played this year. We're trying to coach off the things he's struggled with, hopefully learn from them."

Those lessons Sunday include throwing an interception at his own 18-yard line, snagged by Darrelle Revis. The Redskins were without multiple starters for the game, including left tackle Trent Williams, receiver DeSean Jackson, center Kory Lichtensteiger and tight end Jordan Reed.

But Cousins also was off-target on a number of throws and finished the game with 25 completions in 43 attempts for 196 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Afterward, Gruden said the intent was to start Cousins the rest of the season.

"I don't want to judge a quarterback based on yesterday's game. He's done some good things to warrant him some consideration to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League for some time," Gruden said. "Let's see how he progresses, let's see what happens here at the end of the year and go from there. I have all the confidence in the world still in Kirk and he's done some good things. I know his teammates still have confidence in him and that's the only thing that's important to me."

Gruden mentioned injuries and the wind as being issues to contend with Sunday, in addition to the Jets' defense.

But Gruden said he wasn't making excuses.

"It wasn't good enough by anybody -- not Kirk, not myself, not the offensive line, not the coaching staff ..." Gruden said. "I'm not making excuses for anybody. I'm not trying to baby anybody."

Two weeks ago Cousins led a game-winning drive vs. Philadelphia. Last week, he threw an interception in overtime that was returned for a touchdown in Atlanta.

"We're definitely behind him," Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "We believe in him. He's a good quarterback, and he gets better every week. He just has to believe in himself and go out there and do what he's supposed to do. And I know that he will."

For Gruden, the belief in Cousins is centered on his results in practice and subtle areas of growth they've seen in his game since last season. Coaches have pointed to his poise in the pocket as one improvement.

But Gruden said after Sunday's loss that Cousins -- or anyone else on the roster -- can carry the team if other parts aren't working.

"I've seen him make every throw there is to make in pro football," Gruden said. "We've got to get his confidence going. We've got to help him. Players have got to help around him and we've got to do a better job coaching him. I've seen him do it and I know he can do it."