Quick Links

Need to Know: The numbers say that Kirk Cousins is an 'upper tier passer'

Need to Know: The numbers say that Kirk Cousins is an 'upper tier passer'

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, June 30, 27 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.


The Redskins last played a game 180 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 72 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 17
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 41
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 64

The numbers say that Cousins is an “upper tier passer”

Doug Williams, the Redskins’ newly-minted senior vice president of player personnel, recently said that he considers Kirk Cousins a “top-15” quarterback. Was the former Super Bowl MVP damning Cousins with faint praise? One ESPN analyst thinks so.

“The advanced metrics paint a different picture, one of an upper-tier passer who probably deserves the higher compensation he seeks,” said Seth Walder of ESPN Analytics.

I urge you to read the post for the details of his case but it boils down to Cousins’ performance in three metrics done by three different respected sources.

Cousins was sixth in ESPN’s total QBR last year with a 71.6. It was the second straight year that Cousins finished sixth. Now, you can poke holes in any stat and QBR has its flaws. But the five quarterbacks who finished ahead of Cousins in QBR were Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. The first two made the Super Bowl, the second two met in the second round of the playoffs and Brees is a perennial 5,000-yard passer. Cousins is in some pretty good company.

Looking at DVOA from Football Outsiders, Cousins ranked fifth last year. Again, there’s some quality quarterbacks ahead of him in Ryan, Brees, Brady, and Prescott. And, not to pound you with too many numbers, but he was fifth in net yards per pass attempt, a metric that Pro Football Reference uses that accounts for touchdown passes and interceptions as well as yards per attempt. You can take shots at this stat, too, but here but the quarterbacks ahead of him were Ryan, Brady, Prescott, and Rodgers.

If you look at the numbers, Cousins is top-five quarterback. I know that many of you don’t want to hear that but the numbers are what they are.

The numbers aren’t everything, of course. The late interception that he threw in the season finale against the Giants looms large. But it would be foolish to make a decision to let your quarterback walk over one mistake, no matter how ill-timed it was. Every quarterback, even the Ryans and Bradys of the world, has made a critical mistake.

It’s reasonable to argue that the Redskins would not have even been in a position to make the playoffs at all if not for Cousins’ play in the first 15 games. He was the key to the passing game and they certainly weren’t in contention in Week 17 due to their defense or their running game.

One other interesting point from the ESPN article (again, I suggest you read it) was the comparison of Cousins to Derek Carr, the current, but likely temporary, recipient of the largest NFL contract ever in terms of new average annual value. The analyst argues that Cousins is the superior player, statistically at least. If you combine the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Cousins was fourth in total QBR. Carr was 26th.

Again, the numbers aren’t everything. But they offer a positive counter to the negative of moments like Week 17 of last year. The Redskins should no more base their contract offer to Cousins on his QBR relative one well-paid QB than they should on the Giants game or the end of the 2015 game in Atlanta.

What does that add up to in terms of a contract? Hard to say, really. All I know is that quarterbacks who can finish in the top six in three comprehensive metrics from three different well-respected outlets are very, very hard to find. The Redskins had better consider the cost, financial and otherwise, of replacing Cousins if they let him walk out the door.

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

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source


Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source

The Redskins hosted Sylvester Williams for a free agency visit on Tuesday morning, per a source with knowledge of the situation. 

Williams played in 2017 with the Titans, logging 20 tackles in 11 starts. Tennessee released Williams this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $16 million deal. 

Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 313 lbs. Williams' stat line has never really popped. That isn't uncommon for a nose tackle though, as the job is less about tackles than it is holding leverage against the interior of an offensive line. 


Should the Redskins sign 29-year-old Williams, it would represent the first true nose tackle free agency addition since Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton joined the team in 2015 from Denver. In an ironic twist, Williams took over at nose in Denver when Knighton left for Washington, and posted his best season as a Bronco. 

Washington restructured its deal with Terrell McClain, reported first by ESPN, which could allow more flexibility to add another defensive lineman. That could come in the draft, but the club has been very active talking with free agents to play on the defensive front. 

On Monday, Johnathan Hankins and Pernell McPhee visited with Redskins officials in Ashburn. Hankins would carry the heaviest price tag, but his past performance would also indicate the most promise. 

McPhee is an edge rusher with enough bulk to play against the run as well. Williams compares more with Hankins, and could be seen as the secondary option.

Among 79 nose tackles Pro Football Focus graded, Williams ranked Williams 36th. For comparison, Bengals star Geno Atkins ranked No. 1, Dontari Poe ranked 26th, former Redskin Chris Baker ranked 65th and current Redskin Ziggy Hood ranked 79th. 

It's also worth noting that since the Titans released Williams, should the Redskins sign the nose tackle, his contract would not count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula. 

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!

Quick Links

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

USA Today Sports Images

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility

One head-scratcher from over the weekend was the Redskins’ apparent decision to hold on to defensive end Terrell McClain despite the fact that his 2018 base salary of $3.25 million would become fully guaranteed as of 4 p.m. on Sunday.

McClain missed four games with a toe injury last year and when he was playing he was not one of the top performers on the line. Perhaps he will improve in his second year in the defense but his performance certainly didn’t warrant a fully guaranteed salary.

Sunday came and went, and McClain was still on the roster. However, there was a change regarding the eight-year veteran. According to John Keim of ESPN, the Redskins and the player agreed to remove the full guarantee of the 2018 salary and change it to an injury-only guarantee.


The change will help alleviate what could be a numbers crunch down the road. The Redskins normally carry six defensive linemen. They have four keepers in Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Stacy McGee, and Anthony Lanier. They have been trying to sign a free agent D-lineman like Johnathan Hankins and if they fail to do that they are likely to take one early in the draft. That would mean that five of the roster spots are spoken for.

If McClain had the guaranteed salary that might lock him into that sixth spot, leaving Ziggy Hood, a favorite of the coaching staff, on the outside looking in. The removal of the full salary guarantee levels the playing field between McClain, Hood and another possible free agent or draft pick when it comes to competing for that last roster spot.

If McClain loses out in the battle for a roster spot in training camp releasing him would save about $3.4 million in 2018 cap space. However, there would be a dead cap charge of $2.5 million in 2019. If his salary had remained fully guaranteed his departure would have caused a net cap charge of about $2 million.


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