Redskins.com's Jake Kring-Schreifels provides five takeaways from Kirk Cousins's press conference at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun Co., Va.
1. Cousins wants to win his final game of the season for the first time in his career.
In the broad scheme of things, losing the final game of the season in what is otherwise a meaningless matchup with the Giants doesn't seem to be that important. But then consider that Cousins hasn't ever won the final game of a season with the Redskins.
Some of this is attributed to losing in the playoffs, but that doesn't change the way Cousins will feel over the following couple of weeks with a sour taste in his mouth.
"If we lose it, it ruins my next two weeks," Cousins said. "I want to enjoy those two weeks. I haven't been a part of a season yet where we won the last game. We made the playoffs [then] we lost. Then we went 3-13, 4-12 and last year lost in the last game. So I want to walk away from a season with a win, that way I can drive home, go back to west Michigan or Atlanta or wherever we are going and at least just feel good for a couple weeks before we then look at the big picture and move on."
It is, really, a practical choice to want to leave a year with a victorious feeling.
"Coaches and players are all in a better mood," Cousins said. "So that's why you want to win first and foremost. Then we want to get to 8-8, and I talked about that on Sunday, the importance of that."
2. He believes his process has improved this year.
For the majority of this season, Cousins has made sure to explain at press conferences that he is process-oriented, not outcome-oriented. Despite winning or losing, he's concerned with his overall improvement by focusing on the details of his play and its development.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 17 game against the New York Giants Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park.
This season, without giving a full autopsy of his play, he said he improved in a number of areas that had been weaker points in his career to this point.
"I think I improved with making plays off-schedule, moving in the pocket, finding ways to use my legs to get first downs, getting guys involved working with a different supporting cast this year – one with less familiarity going into the season than I'd had in previous years," Cousins said. "I think all that, I was pleased that we were able to do it. A lot of that goes back to our coaches and their ability to game plan and scheme. A lot of it goes back to our scouting staff. As we had injuries, they brought in players who could play – who weren't just wearing a jersey, but they could actually help us. All those people made a big difference in my ability to still have a productive season."
3. He wants to focus on the final game of the year before thinking about his future in Washington.
It is not surprising that Cousins didn't want to discuss his future just yet.
The Redskins still have one game remaining, and that's one game Cousins wants to focus on even without the chance of making the playoffs. Cousins is planning an event in Fairfax to speak with fans about their questions, but said until the Giants game is complete, he won't engage too much in offseason chatter.
"I think that we can focus on – as we have all season – the next opponent and beating the Giants and try to finish right. And then there will be plenty of time to go through all those different angles," Cousins said.
"I'm looking at the future as Sunday against the New York Giants. That's really where my future is right now and when we finish that game, get on the flight home, have a chance to decompress and have conversations, then we will be able to talk."
4. Everything Cousins says, he stands behind it.
It's understandable that Cousins has had to walk a tightrope for most of this season when it comes to diagnosing his play and future honestly and saying the right things to the media. Each week, circumstances change, he said, and he's wanted to speak directly to fans to convey his feelings at the given moment.
Cousins acknowledged that being a quarterback means acting like a politician at times, but that he's never said anything that he didn't feel to be true.
"I think everything I say I stand behind and I mean it," Cousins said. Why would you not want to be a part of a winning brand? Why would you not build for the future? In any place you are, why would you not think ahead and think about, 'If I'm here, what do I want? The future that I am going to live into, what do I want that to look like?' So I think we all live in the present and we also look to the future at the same time trying to build a better place for whatever we are doing."
Cousins reiterated that he wants to be part of a winning culture and have winning associated with his name. This is not an unreasonable thing to say and Cousins has always felt this way.
"I've talked about that going back – I think it was two training camps ago – talking about comparing it to the San Antonio Spurs and how that is really the goal. I don't need to be flashy. I don't need to be someone with a lot of hype. I don't need to be someone who gets a lot of articles written about them in August. I want to be somebody who has substance and who has a lot to him and people see say, 'He does things the right way and ultimately he wins.' That's what matters to me [rather] than just being a flash in a pan or having some initial excitement. I want to be somebody who lasts for the long haul."
5. His status as a backup quarterback at the start of his career never gave him high expectations.
While Cousins wouldn't expand too much on his future, he did go into some details about his past.
Cousins thought after 2012 that he might never get to be a starter for the Redskins after Robert Griffin III's rookie year and playoff run.
"I said my best case scenario was to play really well in the preseason and then be traded and maybe get a chance somewhere else – much like a Matt Schaub had done behind a Michael Vick in Atlanta," Cousins said. "That was where my mind was at the time, but then as we moved from there, then you never knew what could happen. Just stay the course and there's a lot of circumstances that you have no control over that end up impacting how your career goes."
Cousins later talked about how that changed. For his whole career, Cousins has never had many high expectations, which has fostered an underdog mentality and led him to his current position.
"The expectations were always kind of less than what ended up happening and I think that's also created in me maybe not the highest of expectations for myself," Cousins said. "As a result, I always say I'm living a dream and I feel very fortunate to be where I am because it certainly wasn't the expectation when I entered the league."