Life is good for Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. Not only has he solidified himself as a legitimate franchise quarterback, ensuring a handsome payday isn’t too far down the road, but today he was also named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November.
In three games in the month of November, Cousins completed 84 of 116 passes (72.4 percent) for 1,086 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 124.4. His 362.0 passing yards per game led all NFL quarterbacks in the month of November.
While Cousins has been fantastic for more than a year now, his rise from unheralded backup to face of the franchise has still caught more than a few people off guard. How did this happen? Can anyone outside of the Cousins family truthfully say they saw this meteoric rise coming? And how much do Redskins fans truly know about the 28-year-old?
In hopes of helping answer that last question, I went back and dug up an in-depth feature story I wrote for Redskins.com during Cousins’ rookie year, back in late 2012 when he was firmly intrenched as Washington’s backup behind some other rookie phenom.
During our 30-minute one-on-one interview, Cousins was incredibly candid and honest — going as far as to say the Washington Redskins were the last team in the entire NFL he thought would consider drafting him. Without further adieu, here is the best feature story I ever wrote for Redskins.com:
Fans of the Washington Redskins got to see what rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins was all about when he was forced to fill in for an injured Robert Griffin III in the final two minutes of a tense December game against the Baltimore Ravens.
The 24-year-old was thrust into action with his team trailing by eight points and the game on the line after Griffin suffered a knee injury on a hit by Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, and Cousins promptly led the Redskins to a thrilling come-from-behind overtime victory.
Cousins’ clutch performance enabled the Redskins to keep their playoff hopes alive and ultimately helped pave the way to Washington’s first NFC East title since 1999 – which is funny, because the Barrington, Illinois native hadn’t even started playing tackle football yet the last time the burgundy and gold reigned supreme in the division.
That’s because Cousins didn’t begin playing tackle football until the following year when, as a sixth grader, he finally convinced his parents to let him give it a shot.
“Out in the suburbs where we lived in Chicago, Walter Payton and Mike Singletary lived in that area and both had decided they wouldn’t let their kids play tackle football until they were older,” Cousins said. “They had both played football for so long, gotten beaten up so much and knew the pounding that you take as a football player and felt like you could still learn the rules of the game playing flag football or playing in the backyard. So when guys who played in the NFL and are Hall of Famers are encouraging my dad to not push it too early, my dad listened.”
While his playing days might have started a little bit later in life than other kids, it didn’t take Cousins long to catch up.
“I was never the best athlete,” he said. “I was always a good athlete, but I was never the fastest, the biggest or the strongest. But like my dad always told me, I just have a knack for throwing a football. There’s just something about the nature of throwing a football that came very natural to me. I never really had to work on it and no one has ever told me to change or fix my throwing motion. People just say the way I do it is a good way to do it.”
When he was 13, Cousins’ family moved to Michigan and immediately began searching for a high school with a top-notch football program. Well, things don’t always go as planned and Cousins ended up at Holland Christian School, which wasn’t exactly a dynasty in waiting.
“We were looking for a school system with a good football program because that’s what I knew I wanted to do,” Cousins said. “The school I ended up at though had just started football. As a result, it was still in the early stages and we weren’t very good, the coaching staff wasn’t very experienced and we had to kind of learn on the fly. I had a great experience, but I didn’t really have that powerhouse football experience that a lot of the guys in the NFL probably had.”
Making matters worse, Cousins suffered an injury in his very first game of varsity football during his junior year.