Minutes after a deep pass to Josh Doctson put the Washington Redskins in position to score the game-winning touchdown, Kirk Cousins had a message for the second-year receiver.
“Let’s make sure this isn’t a one-and-done thing,” Cousins told Doctson. “Let’s make sure this is a repeatable thing and something that people expect to have happen not just next week, not just this season, but hopefully for seasons to come.”
Cousins is well on his way to making big plays repeatable not only with Doctson, but new receivers Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick. Washington’s starting quarterback this year has often relied on receivers he used to go to during previous seasons, but the chemistry is developing with all of them. That comfort level could make the passing attack even more dangerous.
“I think for every quarterback, they like to have guys that they’ve been with for a couple years to get comfortable with,” third-down back Chris Thompson said Wednesday. “It’s a little bit of an adjustment for him, but over time he gets used to guys. I think now he has a good feel for everybody and everybody’s skillset and pretty much what routes he likes for every single guy.”
Cousins engineered a 35-second winning drive in Seattle without two of his most reliable targets, tight end Jordan Reed and receiver Jamison Crowder, who were out with hamstring injuries. It’s unclear if either player will be ready to go against the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, but if they’re not, the Redskins know Cousins will be OK.
It’s possible their injuries — as long as they’re short term — provide a silver lining that Cousins got to build up some more trust with the likes of Doctson, Pryor and Quick.
“Now that you are forced to look their way and to see them make some plays was exciting,” coach Jay Gruden said. “It’s just going to improve their confidence level and Kirk’s confidence level in throwing to them. That’s not to say that when Jordan comes back — he’s still probably going to be our first option on a lot of throws and same with Jamison because they’re special people, but to have the ability to stretch the defense a little bit with some of these guys and give them some opportunities will be important down the stretch.”
Cousins has brushed off the notion that he favors certain receivers, saying he follows his progressions and reads to whoever’s open. Thompson has been targeted 46 times and Crowder 43.
But the 38-yard pass to Doctson inside the two-minute warning Sunday, and his four other catches, show a budding relationship between Cousins and the 2016 first-round pick
Cousins said it is a “work in progress.” Doctson missed most of his rookie year with Achilles tendon injuries and has been on and off the practice field this season.
“Just being on the field making mistakes is better than not practicing,” Cousins said. “I think that’s been the biggest help … to have plays where we go out there and we run routes and we talk about the coverage and what I need from him and what I want his route to look like,” Cousins said. “Every time I throw him the ball, I learn more about how to be more consistent with him, play in and play out and how to get him more and more involved. And he learns how to get the ball in this offense and what he needs to do to keep showing up.”