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How many QBs are definitively better than Kirk Cousins? The list isn't that long


How many QBs are definitively better than Kirk Cousins? The list isn't that long

As fall leaks into winter, Kirk Cousins again finds himself near the end of a one-year contract. Once the season ends in 2018, the Redskins and their quarterback will be forced back to the negotiating table, or, put in position to again use a franchise tag to keep their passer. 

While that situation will unfold across board rooms and telephone calls, what Cousins can control right now is on the field. And through 11 games, he's controlling it well. 

Cousins is second in the NFL at 3,038 passing yards, ranking only behind Tom Brady. He's third in the NFL in passing yards per game, again behind Brady as well as Carson Palmer (who only played five games before a season-ending injury).

In fact, looking at QB stats around the NFL this season, Cousins' name is near the top of almost every key metric. 

Considering that an Ian Rapoport report showed the Redskins want Cousins to prove he can be their franchise passer with a strong performance the remainder of the season, it's worth considering just how good Cousins has been so far this year. 


This list will be objective, based on empirical data. For fans that want to point to intangibles, head straight to the comment section. Also, this list is based on 2017 performance alone. Repeat, only 2017 statistics. As they say in the stock market, past performance is not indicative of future returns. 

Ultimately, Washington's question in paying up for Cousins, or not, this offseason comes down to how good he is compared to the rest of the league. How good is he? Let's answer by figuring out who is definitively better:

  1. Tom Brady - He's the best passer in the game, and probably the best QB of all-time. This is the easiest No. 1 choice in history. 
  2. Carson Wentz - The Eagles second-year passer has thrown for nearly 500 yards less than Cousins, but has found the end zone nearly 10 times more. Wentz's ability to go downfield with accuracy separates him from Cousins. Wentz leads the NFL with 28 TDs and has thrown just five interceptions. 
  3. Drew Brees - While Brees is actually a hair behind Cousins in a few categories (yards, YPG, TDs) he is completing 71 percent of his passes to Cousins 66 percent. Also, he gets the nod for a head's up win over Cousins just two weeks ago. Brees also averages more yards-per-attempt than Cousins and has the higher QB rating. 

That's it. That's the list. Only those three passers are definitely better than Cousins this season. Of course, Aaron Rodgers would also be on this list, but he's currently on injured reserve after breaking his collar bone in Week 6.

Now, a case can be made for two more players. Not an ironclad argument, but a case.

  • Russell Wilson - More TDs but fewer yards and lower completion percentage. Nobody is more important to their team than Wilson is to the Seahawks. 
  • Philip Rivers - More TDs and siginificantly fewer sacks. Also, grit. Rivers vs Cousins in LA in two weeks will be fun to watch. Rivers and Cousins are tied in yards-per-completion at 12.2.

At this point, there are probably some folks screaming that Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan and Matt Stafford should rank ahead of Cousins. Look at the numbers. They don't. Perhaps Cam Newton? Newton only has 2,400 pass yards to go with 14 TDs against 11 INTs. Not even close to the same company this season. 

Three players that bring interesting questions: Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff and Case Keenum. 

If Watson stayed healthy, he would have ranked ahead of Cousins or at least been in the same category as Wilson and Rivers. In six games he had 1,700 pass yards and 19 TDs. He was throwing a touchdown almost 10 percent of the time. 

Goff's season started slow, with head coach Sean McVay keeping things very simple for the second year passer. In his last four games, however, Goff has twice thrown for more than 350 yards to go with 9 TDs against 1 INT.

And Keenum? Well, 2017 Keenum could be very similar to 2015 Cousins. In his last three games, Keenum has completed at least 70 percent of his passes and thrown for seven touchdowns. Facing free agency after the year, the Vikings might be forced to use the franchise tag on the still unproven Keenum or lose him to the market. Sounds familiar, right Redskins fans?

Looking at the numbers, and just looking at the numbers, even the most ardent Cousins critic sees that the Redskins passer belongs among the Top 10 NFL quarterbacks. In fact, he might be in the Top 5. 

Looking beyond just numbers, the answer isn't as concrete. Using their proprietary grading scheme, Pro Football Focus ranks Cousins as the 11th best QB this season, behind players like Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Mariota. Football Outsiders, using either their DYAR or DVOA metric, also rank Cousins 11th in the league

One metric that hurts Cousins in some of the more advanced passing statistics comes from the 31 sacks taken so far this year. That's the fourth most sacks in the league, and Cousins has lost 269 yards on sacks, by far the most in the league. The tricky part about Cousins' high sack total is that some of it appears to be by design. Rich Tandler has more on that here, but the short version is the Redskins want more downfield and off-schedule plays from their QB, and sometimes that results in more sacks. 

Stats don't tell the whole story, but they tell a big story. When it comes to Kirk Cousins and Redskins fans, the story often remains more complicated. 

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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Redskins vs. Jets Preseason Week 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

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Redskins vs. Jets Preseason Week 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

After a fight-filled start to joint practices between the Redskins and Jets, the Skins' 2018 NFL preseason schedule continues Thursday night at Fed Ex Field against New York. 

Week 2 of the NFL preseason still doesn't provide a lot of answers to questions about team performance, but it begins to reveal the depth the Redskins could have this season.

One storyline that won't be taking place, is the return of former Redskin Terrelle Pryor, who told reporters after Monday's practice he won't be playing in the game.

The Redskins have bigger things to worry about though, like who will replace rookie Derrius Guice, who's now out for the year with a torn ACL.

The Redskins also have one less name in the fight for receiver depth as well, after Robert Davis suffered a season-ending leg injury as well. 

Ahead of Thursday's preseason matchup, here's everything you need to know to watch.


Who: Washington Redskins vs. New York Jets

What: Game 2 of the 2018 NFL Preseason

When: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Fed Ex Field, Landover, MD

TV Channel: ESPN

Live Stream: Watch ESPN

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Point Spread: Washington, -3

Over/Under: 39.5

Weather: 90 degrees, partly cloudy


5:00 PM: Redskins 100
5:30 PM: Redskins Nation
6:00 PM: Best of the Sports Junkies
7:00 PM: Redskins Kickoff Live


Week 1: Thurs., 8/9, vs. New England Patriots, 7:30 p.m. (L, 26-17)

Week 2: Thurs., 8/16, vs. New York Jets, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)

Week 3: Fri., 8/24, vs. Denver Broncos, 7:30 p.m. 

Week 4: Thurs., 8/30, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 7:30 p.m. 



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There are quite a few things that are wrong with this Terrelle Pryor statement

There are quite a few things that are wrong with this Terrelle Pryor statement

After pulling off a tremendous half-spin move when DJ Swearinger got in his face at Richmond, Terrelle Pryor released a statement on Twitter about the confrontation.

The fact that he felt the need to release the statement in the first place was a strange decision. That strangeness is absolutely overshadowed by how weird the statement itself is, though.

First, let's read it. Then, when you're done reading it — and trying to figure out who thought this was the right thing to do (which may take you a few minutes, so don't rush) — let's go over what makes it so bizarre.

Here's the message, which came out Wednesday night:

Now, here's what stands out...

The hashtags

They get worse and worse as you read them.

#headturn? #FlinchNRunGang? #SillyGuy?

SILLY GUY?!?!?!?

It's one thing to try and laugh at yourself when something embarrassing happens to you. It's another thing to start the #FlinchNRunGang, which is a one-member gang and will forever remain a one-member gang.

The message

Getting into a scrap with DJ Swearinger seems like it'd be a putrid life decision, so while the way he did it will never be forgotten, it was in all likelihood a smart choice not to square up.

With that being said, claiming he didn't do so because he wanted to be a "positive role model for the kids who came to training camp to watch us" is as outlandish as it gets. After all, he said earlier in August that cheapshots by the 'Skins would be handled "accordingly," which isn't very role model-ish!

Pryor's three paragraphs make you cringe after the first reading. After the fourth, they'll make you want to deactivate your Twitter account so you don't have to read them again.

The irony

The overall message is odd, but the last part of it is so ironic it deserves its own subheading in this blog.

"I will continue to work hard and lead by example by not making it about me and keeping the focus on the Jets organization," Pryor writes.

Well, as everyone knows, the best way to end a storyline and direct the focus back onto your franchise is release a statement that literally no one asked for. (That was sarcastic.) (That's actually not the best way to end a storyline and direct the focus back onto your franchise.)

The battery level

You can see in the upper right corner of the wideout's Notes app that his phone nearly died before he plugged it into his charger.

That's a shame, really, because if it did hit zero-percent, maybe he would've had more time to ponder his situation and come to the conclusion that keeping this all in his drafts folder was the correct play. 

On the other hand, though, he wouldn't have become the first person in the history of the Internet to publicly use #FlinchNRunGang in hashtag-form, so at least he has that going for him.