CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.
Throughout the 2016 season, the Redskins struggled to score inside the Red Zone. At times it seemed fluky, but week after week, similar problems occured. The offense simply couldn't consistently get the ball into the end zone from inside the 20-yard-line.
It's overly simplistic to blame one player for the 'Skins red zone woes, but it can be helpful to look at Kirk Cousins body of work in that area of the field across the arc of the entire 2016 season. It's particularly relevant as the organization is again on the precipice of placing the franchise tag on Cousins, working towards a long-term deal, or perhaps even some other option.
Working with The Edge Systems, every single one of Cousins passes thrown inside the opponent's 20-yard-line was analyzed and judged to be a success or not. Success was considered when:
- Any play resulting in a first down or a Touchdown
1st Down: gains 40 percent of yards needed for a new first down
2nd Down: gains 50 percent of the remaining yards for a new first down
3rd and 4th Down: results in a new first down
Below are Cousins' red zone pass attempts charted out for the entire season. (Click here for an enlarged chart)
The results run a similar pattern to the Redskins season. As Washington slumped over their final six games, going 2-4 and falling short out of the playoffs, the team struggled to score in the red zone and Cousins was particularly poor. Cousins found success on 36 percent of his red zone throws in the season's first eight games. That number dropped more than 10 points over the season's final eight games.
In the final two home games of the season, disappointing losses to the Panthers and Giants, Cousins found success on just one of eight red zone passes. Week 17, in a game the 'Skins needed to win to make the playoffs, Cousins went 0 for 3 on red zone passes.
Again, these numbers can't be all put on Cousins. Poor run game and protection problems emerged over the second half of the year, especially against the Panthers and Giants. The numbers do provide another good measure of the quarterback that will likely determine the future of the Redskins franchise.
This data dive wasn't intended to compare Cousins in the red zone with other quarterbacks. That data is more readily available (here from Pro Football Reference). Overall, Cousins completed 67 percent of his passes in 2017. Inside the 20, that number drops to about 46 percent. For a quick comparison, Tom Brady and Drew Brees completed more than 65 percent of their red zone passes, Matt Ryan completed 61 percent of his red zone passes, Eli Manning came in at 53 percent and Ben Roethlisberger at 47 percent.
[Ed. Note: Georgetown assistant offensive coach Tyler Stevens coach compiled 2016 red zone data for this report]
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