The Michigan State Spartan, Kirk Daniel Cousins was drafted to a team without a quarterback on their roster back in 2012, but was finally named the starter less than 365 days ago. Let’s take a look at the journey Cousins has taken control of the starting gig.
Cousins was a pure athlete at his high school in Michigan.
He pitched and played third base for his varsity baseball team and some actually thought he was a better guard while playing basketball than a football Quarterback. Kirk was not a highly recruited Quarterback. He had received offers from only four small schools, and was deciding between Toledo and Western Michigan. After Mark Dantonio took over as the Spartans head coach in 2007 he contacted Cousins after ironically enough watched him in a basketball game. Back in 2007 he was ranked the 137th best QB coming out of high school way behind guys who were highly touted and are no longer starters like, Ryan Lindley, Derek Anderson, and Jimmy Clausen. One of ESPN’s knocks on Mr. Cousins in their scouting report was, “Cousins does not show elite arm strength. May not have the arm to fit the ball into tight spots at the Division I level.”
With plenty of doubt, Dantonio offered him a scholarship. Brian Hoyer was the current starter and Nick Foles was also part of the 2007 recruiting class. No promises were made due to the talent ahead of him on the depth chart. This was not the first or last obstacle in Kirk’s path to success. When he was 19 months old, he was badly burned in a freak accident when he pulled a boiling pot of spaghetti off of a stove. A layer of skin was pulled from his neck, shoulders, chest and stomach and his fever spiked to 106 degrees. The burns were so severe that the doctor told Kirk’s dad that he probably would never be able to throw a ball properly.
Cousins was redshirted for the 2007 season. In 2008 he was the backup but entered and played well in five games. He had won the starting job in 2009 and was just the second sophomore to be named team captain in Michigan State football history. It was no turning back after the 2009 season. He led the Spartans to a Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game. Additionally, in his senior year he led the Spartans to a victory over the Georgia Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl, and they knocked off the rival Michigan Wolverines for his fourth time in as many chances. By the end of his college career he had become the winningest QB in Michigan State history (at the time) and was the school’s all-time leader in yards, passing touchdowns, completions, and passing efficiency.
With the 102nd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins select Kirk Cousins Quarterback, Michigan State.
Wow. Everything about the pick was a surprise. Not only did Cousins himself and many experts expect him to be taken in the second or third round, but he was taken by the Redskins who had traded a plethora of picks to select the Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick.
Leading up to the beginning of the 2015 season was a bumpy road for Kirk. Robert Griffin III won Rookie of the Year and led the Redskins to the playoffs in the 2012 season while Cousins was the backup but did win his only start in week 15 against the Cleveland Browns. Cousins finished the 2013 season playing five games with four touchdowns and seven interceptions after RGIII was deactivated due to injury.
Jay Gruden took over as the head coach in 2014. It did not get much better for Kirk. Rumors were going around that he wanted to be traded and he was 2-4 as the starter.
On the last day of August in 2015, Coach Jay Gruden named Kirk Cousins the starter instead of RGIII. Like in 2014 it started off rocky, going 2-4 against measly teams.
Week seven. Down 24-0 to the 2-3 Tampa Bay at FedEx Field. The turning point in the season and maybe even Captain Kirk Career. The Skins got on the board with an 8 yard QB scramble by Kirk. Another knock in his ESPN scouting report back in 2007, “He is an adequate athlete but is not going to create many plays with his legs.” They eventually pulled within three and the score was 27-24 in the fourth quarter. The defense did its job and then Cousins was able to put them ahead with a game winning pass to Jordan Reed with 24 seconds on the clock. Cousins and the Redskins completed their largest comeback win in franchise history.
After the win, on the way to the locker room, camera’s caught Cousins screaming, "You like that!"
This became his catchphrase and the turning point in the 2015 season for the Redskins. After this unbelievable victory, the coaching staff took the training wheels off and let Cousins run the offense. From week seven on the Redskins went 7-3 to win the division. Kirk Cousins had four different games with at least four total touchdowns (the same number of four-TD games that Aaron Rodgers has had since the start of 2014). He also was the first quarterback in the past three seasons to throw for 4,100 yards and rush for five scores. He even led the NFL in completion percentage!
Did you know?
Playing Quarterback in the NFL requires careful attention to detail. All of the star quarterbacks in the league are overly prepared, but I doubt anyone spells it out like Cousins. Captain Kirk is super organized. Did you know that he has a spreadsheet of what he needs to be doing for every 15-minute increment for all seven days during the week from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM? And that’s not it, the spreadsheet is even color coded! When reporters giggled at this notion during a press conference he responded by saying, “I’m dead serious—I color-coded every 15-minute increment with what I’m doing. I said, Alright, I’m in the cold tub at this time. I’m eating lunch at this time. On Mondays, it’s spend-time-with-my-wife time.”
Kirk Cousins has overcome every obstacle in his path to get to where he is today. Why will he not continue to exceed expectations?
Why did the Redskins not offer him a fair long term contract instead of placing the franchise tag on him?
Will they regret it?