The defending NFC East champion lost its opening two games of the year, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk cited a source Sunday who said "multiple offensive players have begun to complain about quarterback Kirk Cousins, pointing to a lack of decisiveness, erratic play and confusion."
When asked if those players would prefer backup quarterback Colt McCoy, Florio's source said, "At least he'd play with poise."
However, on Monday, a "Redskins source" told Britt McHenry of ESPN: "When you're 0-2 and fighting to survive, things come up. He's not playing well right now. But players respect him."
Cousins later responded to the report during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan, via Ben Standig of Breaking Burgundy:
It's understandable. All I know to do as a leader, as a football player having been in this position before, having faced adversity before is you regroup. You don't put your tail between your legs. You don't get scared. You don't go cry in a corner. You feel like you got put up against a wall and you come out swinging. We have to get this done. We have to play better. I have to play better. You take ownership, you step to the forefront and you lead and you challenge guys and you say what you need to do better. I think together, we can do that. That's what I'm going to do. That's what I've done my whole life, my whole life as a football player. This is no different. This is not new territory for me. I've faced challenges before, adversity before on the football field. We're going to find a way to move forward and play better. We're going to do it together.
McCoy has appeared in 34 games in his career since entering the league in 2010 and posted 26 touchdowns to 23 interceptions, so it's not as if he has an unassailable resume to spark further debate.
Still, Cousins has looked far from the quarterback who put up career numbers last year with 4,166 passing yards, 29 touchdown throws and 11 interceptions. He has one touchdown pass to three interceptions and didn't even find the end zone during the 38-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opener.
|Kirk Cousins' 2016 Stats|
|1||Pittsburgh Steelers||38-16, Pittsburgh||30-of-43||329||0||2|
|2||Dallas Cowboys||27-23, Dallas||28-of-46||364||1||1|
While he did throw a touchdown Sunday during Washington's 27-23 loss to Dallas, he couldn't protect a 23-20 lead in the fourth quarter. Washington was ahead by that three-point margin with the ball on the Dallas 6-yard line with 10:43 to play, but Cousins threw a costly interception to Barry Church.
According to Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press (h/t Chicago Tribune), wide receiver Pierre Garcon "stomped his foot coming off the field" after Church intercepted the pass that was intended for him. What's more, offensive tackle Morgan Moses threw his helmet once he reached the sideline.
Florio pointed out Cousins is playing for a long-term contract this season and acknowledged "the whispers will get louder if the struggles continue."
Next up for Cousins and Washington is a showdown at the 2-0 New York Giants. If he doesn't fix the mistakes that have plagued him in the early going, his team will quickly find itself staring at a daunting three-game deficit in the same division it won a season ago.