- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Nobody deserves more credit for the franchise-record-breaking season Kirk Cousins had with the Washington Redskins than the quarterback himself.

It was Cousins who spent tireless hours in the last year with independent coach Jeff Christensen to position himself not only win the starting job, but to thrive once he did so.

There were growing pains, but Cousins’ diligence and patience helped him see the process through. The Redskins lost in the wild-card round against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, but Cousins’ improvements left the organization confident it can build around him.

This season, Cousins was quick to deflect praise and heap it on his teammates and coaches. Cousins’ praise fell on the offensive line, playmakers such as tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver DeSean Jackson, offensive coordinator Sean McVay and coach Jay Gruden. First-year quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh was mentioned occasionally, but behind the scenes he emerged as an invaluable asset.

The Redskins did not have a quarterbacks coach in 2014, and Cavanaugh’s presence lightened the workload for McVay. Perhaps more important was Cavanaugh’s ability to be a guiding hand for the Redskins as they navigated a potentially rocky transition to Cousins from Robert Griffin III.

“His ability to be the voice in our room, to take away the distractions, the things that that went on and all of that, [was important],” backup quarterback Colt McCoy said. “For him to be able to help Kirk the way he did, silence a lot of things that could have got out or went wrong, Cav just did a great job. It took a lot of stress of Sean. Sean was able to focus on play calling and putting game plans together and having that extra time was probably invaluable for him. Cav really deserves a lot of credit for the way Kirk played and the way our room was handled.”

Cavanaugh joined the Redskins with 22 years of coaching experience — including five years with the Baltimore Ravens, with whom he coached Trent Dilfer to a Super Bowl win after the 2000 season.

This season, the Redskins experienced just that and reaped the benefits.
“I think when you’re trying to just hone in on the quarterback position as a head coach, you leave out some details with the other positions and you take it for granted, maybe,” Gruden said. “This way, I was able to be involved in other positions and hang around a little bit more with those guys.

“To have Matt Cavanaugh there, just focusing on the quarterback fundamentals and taking the quarterbacks and just working on that position, that allowed Sean to do more with the Xs and Os — the game planning, obviously, the film breakdowns, and it really helped out. He was excellent with the quarterbacks, non-stop every day working on their drills and fundamentals. That’s what you need at the position. You can never ever take that for granted. It was a big benefit for all of us.”

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