Speaking in-depth about Kirk Cousins, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden believes the quarterback needs to work on all aspects of his game to take an additional step up in 2016.
Kirk Cousins may be coming off a career season, but the Washington Redskins signal caller is far from a complete quarterback just yet.
Cousins, who is the Redskins' franchise tag player for the 2016 season, pieced together one of the best seasons by a quarterback in franchise history in 2015.
He set single-season franchise records for passing yards (4,166) and completions (379) while leading the Redskins to a 9-7 regular season record and an NFC East title.
So with the Redskins now firmly set with their roster around Cousins and his strengths, head coach Jay Gruden believes the Michigan State product "needs to work on everything" in order to build upon the foundation he laid last season.
"As a quarterback you have to consistently work on your fundamentals on the time: footwork, your drops, all that stuff, you can never stop working your fundamentals, ever," Gruden said at the NFC Coaches Breakfast last month. "And he's going to continue to do that. The one thing he's going to continue to do vigilantly is study the game, study formations, study plays, study concepts vs. different defenses, blitz patterns, how to pick them up at the line of scrimmage, the audibles, change of protections at the line, I think he's going to continue to study the game from a mental standpoint – but from a physical standpoint it's footwork, throwing the ball, taking care of your body."
Cousins' accomplishments last season caught many outsiders by surprise.
He went from alternating second- and third-team reps to being one of the most consistent — and effective — quarterbacks in the NFL last season.
It was more about Cousins' growth than former Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's struggles and injury history.
Check out the top images of Kirk Cousins from the 2015 season.
After throwing just six touchdowns to eight interceptions in the first six games of the season, Cousins totaled 23 touchdowns to just three interceptions down the stretch.
Though much of the national storyline early in the season was about Cousins replacing Robert Griffin III as the starter, Gruden made it clear that his decision was made purely on the results from the offseason through training camp.
"No question it was never about Robert, it was more about Kirk's emergence, really is what happened," Gruden said. "It wasn't that Robert tanked it and we just wanted to make a change. We felt that Kirk had such good OTAs in training camp we just felt that he was progressing at a faster rate is why we made the change. So, I think that Robert can play in this league for sure, just needs another opportunity."
With the Redskins bringing back all of their weapons from last season outside of Alfred Morris, who wasn't much of a threat in the passing game, and even bringing in two-time Pro Bowler Vernon Davis along with returns from Niles Paul and Logan Paulsen, Gruden wanted to make sure the offense remained as intact as possible.
"What we do offensively is not going to change that drastically, we have to master the concepts that he knows and continue to improve on those and then we can add a little more to his plate but we don't have to just go crazy with him," Gruden said. "Systematically we have players in place that fit wat we're trying to do. Our offensive line is young and talented. We've got to continue to work with our running game to help him out, but for Kirk just continue to master what he knows and we'll go from there."