WASHINGTON (AP) Three games into the season, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is already getting public votes of confidence from coach Jay Gruden.
Cousins has a pair of two-interception games – and both were losses.
The Redskins (1-2) host NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 4, which gives Gruden, his staff and his players plenty of time to try to improve things. And there is a lot to improve, by the looks of how things went in Washington’s 32-21 loss to the New York Giants on Thursday night.
There was the blocked punt for a safety on Washington’s first possession. Then came Cousins’ first interception, deep in his territory. That led to a touchdown for the Giants. Cousins’ second pick also led to a score. And what about Washington’s most impressive drive of the day? Well, it ended with Matt Jones fumbling the ball out of the end zone.
”There’s too many good things going on with Kirk and his progression for us to pull the plug right now because he threw an interception or two,” Gruden said in a conference call Friday. ”But he’s got to be aware and he’s got to protect the football – as does Matt Jones, as does the rest of our football team – for us to have a chance.”
Cousins can’t seem to get out of his own way for very long.
Yes, he had zero turnovers in a Week 2 victory over the St. Louis Rams. But he is now up to 23 picks in 17 NFL games since being a fourth-round draft pick in 2012 out of Michigan State.
”I made a couple bad plays tonight,” the QB acknowledged after the loss to New York. ”I’ve got to find a way to clean those up.”
For now, at least, the job remains his.
Last season, he got benched after repeatedly giving the football to opponents.
”Now we’re letting him be the starter here, and he’s going to have to play through some of these pitfalls, so to speak. And we’re hoping that he does,” Gruden said. ”We’re hoping that a more mature Kirk Cousins will bounce back from these performances.”
There were other problems Thursday, to be sure, including a bend and eventually break defensive showing with little pressure on Eli Manning.
”We can get past it,” Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said about this sort of game, the kind that cropped up repeatedly while the Redskins went 7-25 the past two seasons. ”We can, but it’s going to take us coming together and cutting down on mistakes.”
Less than 2 1/2 minutes in, the Redskins trailed 2-0 thanks to that safety. At the end of the first period, it was 12-0. Early in the fourth quarter, 25-6.
”We just didn’t make enough plays on defense to get (Manning) out of his rhythm,” defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. ”We didn’t hit him much, if any. We just didn’t force any turnovers.”
So far, Washington has one takeaway.
And after coming into Thursday leading the league in rushing, averaging a little more than 170 yards per game, the Redskins were limited to 88 yards on 20 carries – a total that includes the meaningless 26 yards gained by Chris Thompson on the final play of the game.
Alfred Morris (six runs, 19 yards) and Jones (11 runs, 38 yards) were the first pair of teammates since 2006 to each top 100 yards in Weeks 1 and 2, but they were bottled up early by the Giants, then didn’t get many touches late.
”We were never able to establish our type of football because we got behind early,” Williams said. ”We had turnovers early and that’s … going to take you out of the game.”
Notes: CB DeAngelo Hall is expected to miss at least three to four weeks with a sprained toe on his right foot. … WR DeSean Jackson (left hamstring) might recover in time to face the Eagles, his former club. … Other injuries Thursday: LG Shawn Lauvao (sprained left ankle), OL Josh LeRibeus (strained calf), RT Morgan Moses (right knee MCL sprain, hyper-extended elbow), DL Kedric Golston (broken bone in hand).
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this report
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