Taking responsibility: An underrated part of Kirk Cousins' game is his ability to say the right things. Cousins has made only two starts, but his handling of the postgame questions speaks volumes about his maturity. He's not afraid to put the blame on himself; it certainly was warranted on his two interceptions. No one else was at fault. He took the blame on the failed two-point conversion; Atlanta played it well, though, yes, Josh Morgan was open (Pierre Garcon was the primary read and Desmond Trufant blanketed him). So it's not all on Cousins. And when he talked about his successes, it was always about what the other guy did to help him -- Fred Davis made a great catch; Pierre got open. It's not an act; this is how Cousins comports himself. I don't know what sort of quarterback Cousins eventually will become, but he has this part down pat.
Brian Orakpo had another disruptive game, and he now has 58 tackles and 10 sacks.
Rak attack: Linebacker Brian Orakpo had another terrific game. I know he's playing for a contract, but you can't discount his sacks either by just saying the season's over. If you do that, then you must discount other good performances, too. And no one else on defense is playing as well as Orakpo.
“I have to keep playing at a high level,” Orakpo said. “I was able to get the tackle off his set, get his feet moving. He didn't know what change of direction I was going to go. I wouldn't say I was inside his head, but this game is about confidence and the confidence starts dwindling, that's when you take advantage.”
Orakpo said he could tell left tackle Lamar Holmes' confidence had decreased: “I could tell because his feet were a little shaky as the game went on. At the beginning tackles have routine sets, but when your feet start moving too much that means you got him.”
Turnover machine: It's hard to underestimate the impact turnovers have had on the Redskins this season. They played well Sunday, except for the turnovers. Sadly for them, that's a difficult stat to overcome. They've turned the ball over 29 times, leading to 88 points -- the offense has scored just 74 points off turnovers. Last year, the Redskins turned it over 14 times and allowed just 51 points -- while scoring 113 points off opponent turnovers. That margin was third best in the NFL. In the past two seasons there have been 30 teams that have scored more points off turnovers than they've allowed; 22 have had winning records. The reasons for the turnovers must be fixed but there have also been some odd ones, like a couple involving running back Alfred Morris on Sunday. He wasn't hit that hard, yet still had the ball come free. Plays like that didn't happen last season, it seemed.
Toll of controversy: There have been many crazy dramas surrounding the Redskins in the past 15 years, but this one probably has topped them all because of the big-name parties involved and the constant stream of reports. It's a good thing social media and blogs weren't around during the Steve Spurrier era or that would have felt as crazy as this one. It's hard to fathom how this season has unfolded and where it still might go. Though there appears to be at least one scenario under which coach Mike Shanahan returns, it still seems far-fetched to think all the parts will fall into place to make it work -- and then to think that will still result in a healthy organization. If it means giving him a contract extension, can you really justify that if they only win one more game? It would be tough to do minus all the drama, but with it? Even tougher. It's also hard to imagine the tension that exists between Robert Griffin III and Shanahan diminishing a whole lot, at least from the quarterback's perspective. The whole situation has weighed on players, with a number of them knowing their futures will be impacted by a coaching switch. In other crazy years, players knew from the beginning of the season that they were doomed and probably not good. So what transpired wasn't a surprise. That was far from the case in 2013, which is why for some the frustration level hasn't diminished a whole lot.