For the second straight week, Kirk Cousins performed at a level subpar to his ability. Or at least the ability Redskins fans have come to expect during the last two seasons.
In Washington's preseason Week 1 loss to the Ravens, Cousins hardly played and threw only two passes. It was easy to dismiss that outing as too short and too limited for true evaluation.
Against the Packers Saturday night, that was not the case.
The Redskins were not able to even gain a first down until their fourth possession, and Cousins did not get into even the slightest rhythm until he and the Washington offense faced the Packers backup defenders.
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His numbers look decent, 14 of 23 for 144 yards and a touchdown. Watching the game, though, the numbers don't properly reflect the performance.
Cousins, and the entire Redskins offense, must be better for this team to have a shot at the playoffs in the 2017 regular season. Must be.
Now all of that said, it's still not time to freak out about Cousins.
Since being named the Redskins starter in 2015, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards and the Redskins have won 17 games. There is a track record of relative success that fans should be comfortable looking at instead of a string of bad preseason performances. Couple that with a dreadful run game so far, and poor play from their offensive line, and the picture of Cousins becomes less worrisome.
For his part, the quarterback isn't worried.
"I haven’t played a live football game since last January, late December, and it takes time to get used to that again," Cousins said after Saturday's game. "I think practice is a false sense of reality, when they’re not actually able to hit you. It’s a different deal when they can, and I probably was moving a little faster than I needed to. My clock was going off a little faster. I think the preseason games will help with that, being able to play next week as well. And I’d like to think that those couple of games with a lot of reps, the clock tends to settle in and you get a better feel before Week 1."
Cousins wasn't sharp against Green Bay. He missed some throws, and probably had some chances for big plays he didn't take.
The Redskins struggled in the red zone, twice, and that's an unsightly continuation of a big problem from the 2016 season. Jay Gruden and Cousins pointed to a touchdown throw near the end of the first half as a reason for some positive momentum.
The truth on that touchdown, a nice pass from Cousins to Crowder, is it likely never would have happened in the regular season. The TD came on fourth down, after Cousins arguably missed an open Josh Doctson for a TD on third down. When the games count, Gruden probably would have kicked the field goal on fourth down, especially given his team's ineptitude near the goal line.
Gruden voiced similar comments to Cousins about getting used to game speed again.
"I think he was a little antsy. I think he’ll tell you that. He’s just getting back in the flow," the coach said.
"Just a matter of getting in rhythm, getting used to the wide receivers and Kirk will be fine."
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Kirk will be fine. That's the message from the coach and the quarterback.
In August, even after struggling through two preseason games, that's the right message.
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