Confidence is king. Earning faith in team sports from those on your side can be a crowning achievement. Players on the Washington Redskins have confidence in Kirk Cousins. This isn't new and certainly not just because of the quarterback's spectacular performance in Sunday's 35-25 win over the Buffalo Bills. The when and how it developed, that takes different forms.
As the blindside protector, left tackle Trent Williams doesn't have an ideal game view angle from which to watch Cousins do his thing. With his back to the pocket, he battled Buffalo defenders with bad intentions as Cousins completed 22 of 28 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns without committing a turnover.
Williams, a consistent supporter of Cousins, believes its others who needed to change their perspective.
"He was awesome. He's a special player," Williams said. "I think you guys are starting to see that. I've said it every week. We've got all the faith in the world in him."
"I felt confident as soon as Coach picked [Cousins]," Francois said.
Here's why. The defensive end signed with Washington as a free agent last offseason. Therefore, he wasn't swayed for better or worse by the previous QB drama. However, a different signal caller change led him to buy into this one.
Francois played with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012. Colin Kaepernick replaced an injured Alex Smith midway through the season. Despite Smith taking the 49ers to the NFC Championship game the previous season, coach Jim Harbaugh stayed with Kaepernick. San Francisco eventually reached the Super Bowl.
"I was in something like that before when I was in San Francisco with Alex and Kaepernick," Francois noted. "You see how that worked. We ended up in the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl. Same thing Coach [Gruden] did. He believed in one guy, he ran with [Cousins] and the whole team went behind him. Don't leave him out there by himself. Feels like he's got the whole team's trust. When you see he's got the whole team's trust, he's putting up 300-yard games week in and week out."
Inside linebacker Will Compton's emergence as starter didn't happen until the second half of the season. When it did, he was ready, tackling the job with the same passion with which he attacks ball carriers. That explains his belief in Cousins, who didn't throw away his full-time starting chance. He enters Saturday's game at Philadelphia with 22 touchdown passes versus 11 interceptions, 3,625 yards, a 69.7 completion percentage and a shot to clinch the NFC East title with a win.
"I have nothing but faith in Kirk," Compton said. "He's awesome. He takes his job very seriously. He's a hell of a football player. He's very in tune with the details of what he needs to do. Nobody looks at themselves harder than Kirk Cousins. I know he's prepared. I love seeing him out there. He's playing hell of some good football."
Chris Baker, another animated member of the defensive line, offered a specific 2015 moment for when he believed.
"I think we when made that -point comeback against Tampa Bay. We knew we had something special in that guy, Baker said. Washington trailed 24-0 in the second quarter, but Cousins charted the comeback with three second-half touchdown passes including the game-winner with 24 seconds left for the 31-30 victory.
"We call him 'Captain Kirk' for a reason," Baker stated.
Moments after the Week 7 win, an emotional Cousins screamed, "You like that!" walking past reporters. As the Redskins blasted the Bills and fans at FedEx Field repeatedly chanted his now signature phrase.
Confidence in Cousins is no longer isolated to teammates and open-eyed thinkers. An entire region is buying in.
"You see the whole stadium start chanting. What else can you ask a quarterback to do when you got a whole stadium chanting for you, the whole city behind you, your team behind you? You can't ask for anything better than that," Francois said. "So he's going to go out there and be the quarterback that he is, a franchise starting quarterback."