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Inside the Numbers: Comparing Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins is not as simple as it seems

Inside the Numbers: Comparing Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins is not as simple as it seems

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. 

MORE REDSKINS: ALEX SMITH IS FIRED UP TO BE IN WASHINGTON

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.

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

RELATED: WHAT SHOULD THE REDSKINS DO AT RUNNING BACK?

The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

RELATED: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201