Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Trent Williams's press conference at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun Co., Va.
1. While the team's playoff chances are small, Cousins won't have any trouble keeping the same mindset he's had all year in the final four games.
There's still a small shot for the Redskins to make the postseason, and that sliver of hope is, for the time being, enough for Cousins to still find motivation. But regardless of the team's standings, Cousins remains focused on preparing as normally does for each game.
One of the ways he described this logic was by referring to his preparation at the beginning of the season. Over the first few games, Cousins said he wasn't thinking about playoff implications; rather, he's building the foundation for the year and focusing on his opponent in a particular week.
"I enjoy playing the game and I love the challenge, regardless," Cousins said. "I don't play Week 1 or 2 really thinking about the playoffs. I just think about that individual game and the individual series and the individual play. I think I can have that same perspective in these last four weeks."
Cousins also noted the way his teammates have responded to finishing out the season strong, especially for those who have been dealing with lingering injuries and continue to fight through them.
"Guys want to play. Guys are ready to go," Cousins said. "Morgan [Moses] is positive and is going to work through it and he's just got a smile on his face and is wanting to continue to play. Trent, much the same way. I think that that… I've talked about how I like the locker room. I like the culture. I like the resiliency. There is a little bit there. You can see it in the way guys are responding from what we have been through and the way they want to continue to go out there and fight."
2. Cousins has plenty of experience staying in the moment and keeping his thoughts from drifting to the future.
For the entire season, Cousins has remained firm in the way he handles thinking about his contract status and general approach to life – he stays in the moment. As the team enters the final quarter of the year, it would be understandable for Cousins to let thoughts creep in about the offseason and what it might entail. But Cousins's career has provided him the experience necessary to reject those impending anxieties.
"I've learned through my senior year of high school playing that season without a scholarship offer and knowing that I needed to play well to earn an opportunity to play in college," Cousins said, "and then my senior year of college, knowing that I wasn't a dynamite first-round pick, so I was going to need to play well my senior year to earn that opportunity, and then being on one-year deals multiple times now in my professional career, I've learned that the best way to take care of the future is to focus entirely on the present and to be process-focused and not outcome-focused…, it's been great for me to exercise that muscle of every time those thoughts do show up, to say, 'Let's focus on the present. Let's be right here, right now,' and understand that that's the best way to prepare for the future."
Playing on the franchise tag means that Cousins and his agent aren't able to negotiate with the Redskins until after the season. This, in itself, has let Cousins just worry about playing football, knowing nothing will happen until games conclude.
"My message to the team and to the locker room is let's focus on the Chargers," he said. "Let's focus on this last month of football. People don't always remember how you start. People always remember how you finish. Let's finish strong and believe that good things will happen for us as a team if we do that and also as a result individually."
3. The development of the team's young core of wide receivers is encouraging to Cousins.
The Redskins lost two veterans and a lot of production last offseason in Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson. In their place, they have relied on a stable of young wide receivers, many of whom haven't hit their stride until recently.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 14 game against the Los Angeles Chargers Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
That primarily includes wide receiver Josh Doctson, who has grabbed a touchdown pass in consecutive games for the first time in his career. After missing nearly all of his first season and offseason workouts, the regular season has functioned as a developmental stage for him and his rapport with Cousins.
"But because of the hamstring injury and the Achilles injury and some of the things that have happened to him, this is like his rookie year and we weren't able to get that full offseason together," Cousins said. "But I think he's shown what he can do. And we have to continue to develop it and find the plays and the looks that give him the best chance to be really successful because he has some unique traits."
Cousins listed several more of his receivers – Ryan Grant, Brian Quick, Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris -- praising the gains they've made amidst many injuries on offense.
"We've got to get those guys out there more because they continue to show in practice what they can do," Cousins said. "We've got to give them opportunities and keep them healthy."
*4. The Chargers' turnover-inducing defense starts with its pass rush, led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, and Cousins knows he'll have his hands full on Sunday. *
The Redskins will face another challenging task in the Chargers' defense this Sunday, facing a team that's won three consecutive games, a product of a strong passing game and strong passing defense. Los Angeles ranks fifth in sack percentage (7.85) and fifth in opponent passing yards per game (205.7) and are averaging nearly two turnovers per game, largely because of their dangerous pass rush.
That's led by defensive end Joey Bosa and linebacker Melvin Ingram, who have combined for 20 sacks and five forced fumbles this year.
"I just think the fact that they were both first-round picks and you're not drafting a guy third overall to just be an OK pass rusher," Cousins said. "If you're drafting him third overall, he needs to be going to Pro Bowls and showing up on All-Pro lists and getting double-digit sacks year in and year out and dominating. That's what they expect of those guys and I think with some of the results they've had this year you can see they're getting it. Our tackles, our guards will have their hands full this week, but every week there is some really good pass rushers we go against and as you look down the schedule you could name a few for each team we play."
5. Cousins has been inside the StubHub Center just once, but doesn't think the different environment will change his play.
He's only been inside the Los Angeles Chargers' temporary new home once. It was Spring Break in college and Cousins stopped into the training facility for the Los Angeles Galaxy and stepped into the StubHub Center for a peek.
Cousins doesn't think the game will be too different inside a smaller venue with an assortment of fans, but it will be a unique one.
"I don't know that it will be too different in the sense that there is still going to be tens of thousands of fans," he said. "It's still the same size field and it's still an NFL defense to go against. But it will be a new venue, somewhere we haven't been before. We really don't know what to expect as far as the noise or the atmosphere, but we just play and so many different scenarios change in terms of the setting you play in based on how the game goes and the flow of the game. This one will be no different.
"I'm sure it can still generate noise," he added, "and if we don't play up to our standard, the crowd is going to be in it and it's going to be noisy and it's going to be hostile. If we are playing at a very high level, you can quiet 100,000 people if you're playing at a high level. We just need to go out and put a good product on the field and I think that will take care of it."