Not withstanding the rumors that new coach Jay Gruden favored Cousins for his offense over Robert Griffin III, Cousins has to be the man anyway. Griffin sustained a nasty-looking injury to his left ankle in Sunday's win over the Jaguars, officially classified as a dislocation. Cousins stepped in and wasted no time picking apart Gus Bradley's defense, completing two-thirds of his passes for a pair of long touchdowns in the 41-10 victory.
Cousins is no stranger to starting for the Redskins; he played one game for an injured Griffin in 2012, and started the final three last season after then-coach Mike Shanahan 'shut down' a creaky Griffin for the season. Cousins also had to play in relief of a badly-injured Griffin in the 2012 Wild Card Round loss to the Seahawks.
Cousins, save for Sunday's flaying of a Jaguars team in flux, has largely been seen as a game manager, even going back to his days at Michigan State. While certainly less flashy than Griffin, Cousins' more conservative style may be more beneficial to Gruden's want for more of a drop-back system in the offense. Gruden stated, "(Cousins) obviously has a skill set that I feel like is very much suited for what we do. He can handle it mentally, and obviously, physically." Though more praise of Cousins than an indictment of Griffin, Cousins seems to have the basic elements of Gruden's more contemporary offense.
DeSean Jackson Comes Home
At one point Sunday, it appeared as though a shoulder injury might force Jackson out of Week Three's match-up, just as the ankle injury has RG3. Despite not returning to the game following the injury, Jackson was feeling better throughout the remainder of Sunday and into Monday, increasing his chances of returning to the Linc for a high-profile reunion.
Jackson needs no introduction to Eagles fans. His 6117 yards and 32 receiving touchdowns in Philadelphia brought many cheers over six seasons, as have his occasional punt returns to the house (much to the chagrin of those in East Rutherford). In March, Jackson's divorce from the team came with many questions. Some pointed to alleged gang ties, while the consensus veered more toward Jackson's mindset not fitting what Chip Kelly wants from a player. It was a gutsy cut, and Kelly took some licks for releasing the world-class talent.
The Redskins scooped up Jackson days later. Early on in 2014, Jackson's repaid the faith with a sample-size nine catches for 81 yards. A more consistently-healthy QB like Cousins could start funneling touchdowns Jackson's way, and Jackson's speed benefits from such confidence. Of the ten passes of 50+ yards thrown by Redskins quarterbacks since the start of 2012, Cousins has thrown four of them.
Key to the Redskins' whooping of Jacksonville were their ten quarterback sacks, something they've only done once before (October 9, 1977). Ryan Kerrigan led the attack with four, while Jason Hatcher and Perry Riley rode in his wake with 1.5 apiece.
The Redskins only totaled 36 sacks for the season in 2013, so having ten already in 2014 feels like a hop, skip, and jump in the direction of progress. That's until you release that Washington didn't sack Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Texans once in Week One. Oakland couldn't get Fitzpatrick either on Sunday, so perhaps the Texans are just unsackable. Or maybe the Jaguars just have a lousy line. Talk about your extremes.
The Eagles managed just three sacks on Jacksonville in Week One, but the likes of Fletcher Cox and Connor Barwin brought the type of pressure that facilitated quick throws, many of which in the second half fell for incompletions. Three-and-outs are as good as any sack, and it remains to be seen whether or not the Redskins can build on Sunday's feast.
Is the Secondary Improved?
A year ago, opponents were completing a shade under 66 percent of their passes on the Redskins, to the tune of over 258 yards and nearly two touchdowns a game. The Redskins' muddled defense came away with only 16 picks, and were hamstrung by a defensive passer rating of 96.1.
Hard to judge 2014 after two diametrically-opposed games, one where Fitzpatrick managed well and the other where Henne was avalanched. The additions of veterans Ryan Clark and Tracy Porter to the secondary were meant to remedy the issues of a year ago, while the teams hopes that second-year corner David Amerson improves to the standards of a true starter.
The pass rush, particularly from the surging Hatcher, will go a long way in determining how the Redskins defensive backs fare. Despite successes up front in the Jaguars game, the Redskins are allowing 14.3 yards per completion after two games, tied for highest in the league with the Giants.
The New Donnie Longball?
Just as the Eagles have rallied behind fresh-faced Cody Parkey as placekicker, the Redskins have their own special teams newcomer to champion. You may not know the name Tress Way in the slightest, but he's leapfrogged would-be punter Robert Malone to win the Redskins job, after being signed on August 20.
After two games, Way averages 49.4 net yards a punt, firmly placing him near the top of the league in terms of average. That's a far cry, at least so far, from the 42.0 average from former Eagle Sav Rocca in Washington a year ago.
Way did have one punt blocked by Alfred Blue in the season opener, but has skied three punts of 61 yards so far. Way has also, at least in the Jaguars game, been entrusted with kickoffs as well, replacing kicker Kai Forbath.
Follow Justin Henry on Twitter