Before we turn all of our thoughts toward free agency, the NFL Draft and the 2016 season. Breaking Burgundy will put a bow on the Washington Redskins NFC East-winning 2015 campaign, player report card style. Peter Hailey on the highlights, lowlights and what the immediate future holds for all members of the Burgundy and Gold.
Player: Kirk Cousins
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Preseason buzz: Originally, there wasn’t much. The main focus, of course, was on Robert Griffin III, as people focused solely on whether #10 could rejuvenate his career with the Redskins. Sure, there were a few members of Cousins’ fan club wanting him to get a chance to start, but their requests were mostly ignored like a pesky telemarketer. Things changed instantly, however, when Jay Gruden made the call for Cousins to take over under center. Expectations, though, were still pretty tame: The thought was #8 would do what he could to manage the game each week, do his best to avoid throwing four interceptions in a half, and let others win for him. As it turns out, he was greatly underestimated.
Ended 2015 like...: Started every game at QB and improved throughout. Cousins threw at least one touchdown in each game, set franchise records for single season passing yardage and most touchdowns accounted for in one year.
Season highs: So many to choose from — the comeback against the Bucs that I’ll tell my grandkids about, and then have them tell their grandkids about, four TDs versus the Saints, Bills and Eagles, and all of his rushing scores. Aside from a couple of iffy performances, the entire 2015 schedule was a high for Cousins.
Season lows: When someone has as brilliant a campaign as Kirk did, you have to nitpick to find the lows. The season-opening loss to the Dolphins looks bad now, as do Weeks 3-6, where he threw two interceptions in three out of four matchups. But after the Bucs victory, you’d be hard-pressed to find a quarterback who was as dialed in as the 27-year-old was for the Redskins.
Off-the-field highlight: Hmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Uhhhhhh. Let’s see. Was he involved in any viral videos that were imitated by people worldwide? Oh yeah: YOU LIKE THAT! YOU LIKE THAT. I still scream this occasionally, by the way, and never want it to die. Long live YOU LIKE THAT.
Grade: A. Oh, what the heck, A+. He insanely surpassed expectations. Before the year, he was an Indie movie. After it, he was Jurassic World.
2016 expectations: 2016 will be pivotal for him. Was last season a flash in the pan, a temporary hot streak, or the beginning of an illustrious career? I don’t know if Cousins can deal like he did during the second half of 2015, but I expect him to be a top-third QB yet again. How about another 3,700 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 picks? That’s not elite, but it’s very good. And a very good signal caller, who played at that level two seasons in a row, is something we haven’t seen in the Burgundy and Gold for quite some time.
Follow Peter Hailey on Twitter at @barelyin.
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