The Redskins traded a third round pick and promising young cornerback Kendall Fuller to Kansas City to acquire quarterback Alex Smith. In the process, the Washington front office decided to move on from Kirk Cousins, the starting QB of the last three seasons, to Smith.
It's not quite that simple, as major questions remained about Washington's ability to sign Cousins for the 2018 season and beyond, but regardless, it now appears Smith is the future for the Redskins at QB.
The biggest question, however, is if Smith is better than Cousins?
Direct comparisons are hard to pull off in professional football, as teams run different systems and the game is truly reliant on all 11 players on the field. Still, the numbers can explain a lot. With that in mind, NBC Sports Washington compiled the most important numbers from Smith and Cousins from the last three seasons.
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Why the last three seasons? Alex Smith was the No. 1 overall pick in 2005, and Kirk Cousins was a fourth-round pick in 2012.
Smith struggled early in his career on some bad 49ers teams, and Cousins did not become the Redskins full-time starter until 2015. Prior to that, Cousins had some ugly numbers too, particularly in the touchdown to interception ratio.
The best comparison for the two players comes over the last three years as both men had full command of their offense and their position.
One final, but important, note before the statistics: Cousins will be 30 years old when the season begins. Smith will be 34.
Let's try to determine some takeaways from the data:
- Cousins has posted significantly higher yardage totals, but also throws the ball on average 75 more times per season than Smith.
- With more throws, Cousins threw more TDs, but also more INTs.
- The completion percentages are nearly identical, which shows both QBs are accurate passers.
- At 7.6 YPA for Cousins and 7.5 YPA for Smith, the "dink-and-dunk" label doesn't really apply for either player. In 2017, Drew Brees led the NFL with an 8.1 YPA. Smith tied for second at 8.8 and Cousins tied for ninth at 7.6
- Smith is definitely the better runner, but Cousins' ability to get in the end zone on the ground can't be denied.
- Cousins has been remarkably durable the last three years with zero missed games. Smith missed one game for injury, and missed another in Week 17 of 2017 as the Chiefs had already clinched their playoff spot.
- Smith won more games, but played on a better team.
Got another takeaway from the data? Let us know in the comments.
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