Kirk Cousins threw for 301 yards in Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Lions, but he faced a question after the game about the distribution of his targets. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson were largely non-factors in the offense, combining for seven catches for 57 yards, despite Cousins’s most dependable receiver, tight end Jordan Reed, missing his second consecutive game with a concussion.
“If we’re completing passes — I think I was like 30 of 39 — I may not be going to DeSean and Pierre every time, but we’re completing the football and going where my reads take me,” Cousins said Sunday.
The Redskins’ quarterback expanded upon that answer during his weekly interview Monday on 106.7 The Fan.
“Sometimes that’s more of a challenge for [offensive coordinator] Sean [McVay] and Coach [Jay] Gruden, because really, once the play comes in, I just go where my reads take me, where I see the coverage going, trying to play fast and just find completions,” Cousins told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier. “I don’t really think about, ‘Oh, I’ve got to get this guy the ball or that guy the ball.’ The coaches do a good job of trying to spread it out and I think we do a good job of distributing the football where everybody does get touches. Anytime you complete 75 percent of your passes, you have 300 yards passing, you have that many third-down conversions, first-down conversions, I think we’re doing some good things offensively.”
Indeed, the Redskins put up 417 yards of total offense and recorded 26 first downs against the Lions, but committed two turnovers and missed a field goal off the upright. Washington is averaging 22.3 first downs per game this season, which is tied for seventh in the league.
“So, people are always going to point the finger or nitpick, or point this out or that out — shoot, they do that even when we win games and play well,” Cousins continued. “So, if that’s what they want to do, have at it, you know, congratulations, but we’re going to keep playing and do the best we can and try to win football games, whatever that may be and whoever the ball may go to.”
Sunday marked the third time this season that Jackson and Garcon have combined for fewer than 70 yards receiving, something they did only one time in eight full games together last season. Is Cousins looking to Garcon and Jackson less than in 2015, when Washington ranked 10th in points per game? Nope. Jackson’s 49 targets through seven games equal the 49 targets he had in nine-plus games last year. Garcon, who has 48 targets through seven games, is on pace to match the 111 targets he had in 2015.
The most noticeable drop-off this year has been in Jackson’s yards per catch. Jackson averaged 17.6 yards per catch last season, including 10 catches of at least 20 yards and four catches of at least 40 yards. This season, Jackson has averaged 13.6 yards per catch, with seven catches of at least 20 yards and only one catch of at least 40 yards. Still, the Redskins are tied for 15th in the NFL in points per game (22.7) and rank second in yards per play (6.2). Washington has proven it can move the ball without relying solely on Jackson, Garcon and Reed, thanks in large part to the continued improvement of Jamison Crowder, who led the team with seven catches for 108 yards on Sunday.
While Cousins doesn’t figure to make any changes to how he distributes the football, he is planning to make a few adjustments to his sleep schedule ahead of Sunday’s game against the Bengals in London. After making two trips to London during the offseason, Cousins understands the five-hour time difference takes some adjustment. (Update: The time difference will only be four hours at kickoff, as daylight saving time in the United Kingdom begins Sunday at 2 a.m., one week earlier than in the United States.)
“I’m going to start adjusting now,” Cousins said. “I’m going to try to get up real early and then go to bed much earlier this week so that the adjustment for me happens on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, so that by the time Friday, Saturday, Sunday rolls around, I’m already on a body clock that would be like London time. It’s a process and I’m going to start today, so it’s not all hitting me at once.”
Cousins, who woke up around 7 a.m. on Monday, plans to be in bed by 7 p.m., and he won’t lose any sleep over how many targets each of his receivers got on Sunday.