I went back and forth with putting Cousins in the second tier after a second-straight franchise record season with the Redskins. If he does it again this season after losing top targets DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency, he’ll be there soon enough.
Tier 2, “Top pros and proven winners,” would have placed Cousins beside the likes of Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford, and Tony Romo. Tier 4 categorizes him with Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, and Ryan Tannehill.
Even though Cousins finished the season with 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns, the fact remains the Redskins didn’t get to the playoffs. They had more than enough chances and talent to make that happen. Cousins blew any talks of a long-term contract throwing that interception in what would be the Redskins’ final game of the season. On top of that, they lost against the New York Giants.
Yes, you can win with Cousins. Is he a star to Redskins fans? Yes. Is he a topic of league conversation? No. In comparison to other quarterbacks, he’s a role player. The difference in thinking he’s such and seeing him treated like a role player is heartbreaking.
Cousins remains below the radar of concern, but slightly above the bar of quarterback respect. Opposing teams know that, at any moment, their game could be a record-breaking game for him. At the same time, they know with a certain amount of pressure, he will make that mistake.
This is why head coach Jay Gruden has given him a new challenge for the 2017 season: Be more than a player: Be a coach. If he can answer that call from his head coach, categorizing Kirk Cousins will be impossible.