Josh Norman Believes in Kirk Cousins's Evolution With Good Reason

Not everything gets better over time. One year after disastrous performance against Josh Norman's Panthers, Kirk Cousins showed just how much he's grown.

LANDOVER -- Kirk Cousins impressed any realistic football observer with his wow performance Sunday night in the Washington Redskins' 42-24 win over the Green Bay Packers. 

What a difference a calendar year can make. Just ask Josh Norman.

On Nov. 22, 2015, Cousins was a hot mess against Norman's Carolina Panthers. Far more timid than terrific against a prepared defense, the quarterback fumbled twice, threw an interception, was sacked five times and passed for a pedestrian 207 yards in a 44-16 debacle 

"We saw different things and we picked up on them," Norman said Sunday night of Carolina's plan. "We studied Kirk and what he did and who he liked to go to and kind of took that away. You saw what happened in that game then."

The entire NFL world saw Sunday night what a difference a year can make. 

Cousins threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns against the Packers as the Redskins improved to 6-3-1. In this case, the style matched the substantive production. Washington scored its most points this season while racking up 515 yards. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. On Sunday night, he couldn't keep up with the poised, confident and efficient Cousins. 

"Now, he elevated his game," Norman said. "He got better within the year and it showed out there today and every game he's played thus far. I can't see him being the same guy as last year."

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Norman, as per usual, had plenty to say postgame. Like the rest of us, he no longer understands the NFL's catch rule. The cornerback could only shake his head when the league called on him postgame for an all too common random drug test. Along with his teammates, Norman must quickly prepare for the Thanksgiving Day matchup at the Dallas Cowboys with the NFC East race in play. 

There's plenty happening there, but Norman showed no stress when he chatted with reporters. Victories smooth over the rough edges. Norman's strip of Packers tight end Jared Cook in the fourth quarter helped seal the win. Yet the energetic talker's inflection turned happiest when discussing the Redskins' offense. 

"You have to tip your hat to our offense. They played a heck of a game," Norman said. "Kirk Cousins, I can't say enough about that guy. He's a special, special talent."

That's not how many viewed Cousins nearly one year ago. That quarterback who wasn't in Cam Newton's class in that Week 11 game outdueled a future Hall of Famer in Rodgers with relative ease for a needed victory. Sunday's 300-yard game, the 16th of Cousins' career in the regular season, set a new franchise record. Even as Rodgers kept the Packers close, Washington's signal caller didn't blink. Cousins went 10 of 12 for 245 yards and two touchdown passes just in the second half. 

"Tonight was certainly the culmination of what we feel like our potential can be," Cousins said following Washington's second straight win.

Few believed in the Redskins or their quarterback one year ago when the Carolina dropped them to 4-6 at Carolina. Washington closed the season 5-1 and won the NFC East with Cousins leading the way. The 2016 Redskins started the campaign with two losses. They're 6-1-1 over the last eight games. Believing in this team and their quarterback is a whole lot easier now.

Plenty can change over a calendar year. Kirk Cousins is proof. Just ask Josh Norman. 

Ben Standig is the Publisher of Breaking Burgundy and the Huddle Report's 2012 NFL Mock Draft champion. You can find him on Twitter @benstandig and on Google+.

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