Kirk Cousins is a top 10 quarterback in the NFL, at least according to many statistical measures. And he’s doing it without much help from a source that traditionally is needed to help inexperienced quarterbacks thrive.
If you look at the NFL’s overall quarterback metric, passer rating, the Redskins’ first-year starter is eighth with a rating of 97.2. He leads the league in completion percentage with a mark of 69.7. If he keeps that up, it will be the seventh best completion percentage for a single season in NFL history. Cousins already holds the NFL record for the highest season completion percentage in home games at 74.7.
Cousins is ninth in the league in passing yards (3,625) and sixth in net yards per pass attempt (which takes into account yardage lost due to sacks) with 6.8.
Looking at one advanced metric, Football Outsiders’ DVOA, Cousins comes in seventh with 11.3 percent (zero percent is average). Strength of opponents is taken into account in DVOA, which perhaps makes it a more accurate measure than some others. In ESPN’s QBR, which does not take strength of opponents into account, Cousins ranks 12th.
A strong running game is supposed to be a quarterback’s best friend, especially an inexperienced quarterback. Being able to move the ball on the ground keeps the defense guessing and sets up a lot of third downs with friendly distances to go. But Cousins has managed to get it done this season without much help on the ground.
Per FO, the Redskins have the 31st ranked rushing DVOA. Of the other nine quarterbacks in FO’s top 10, only the Raiders’ Derek Carr has to operate with a rushing game that is in the bottom third in the NFL; Oakland is 22nd in rushing DVOA. The average ranking of the running game of the other eight quarterbacks is eighth.
If you want to look at Cousins’ support from the running game using the NFL’s stats, here you go. Of the other nine quarterbacks in the top 10 in passer rating only Tom Brady’s Patriots (28th) and Drew Brees’ Saints (27th) rank lower that Cousins’ Redskins (20th) in terms of rushing yards per game. The other seven quarterbacks play for teams with rushing attacks that average seventh in the league.
The Redskins will continue trying to run the ball, although it may be too late for a big turnaround this season. But one could imagine how well Cousins might perform in future seasons if the organization can get the pieces in place to have at least an average rushing attack.