Kirk Cousins just did something he has never done before, and it’s not something good.
The Redskins quarterback passed for 196 yards against the Cardinals on Sunday.
That comes on the heels of a 151-yard passing performance against the Chargers. This marks the first time that Cousins has thrown for fewer than 200 yards in consecutive games since he was named the starting quarterback just before the start of the 2015 season.
The closest he has come to posting sub-200 yard games before came in his first two games as the starter, when he threw for 196 against the Dolphins and 203 against the Rams the next week.
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Cousins has finished with fewer than 200 yards in seven games in the last three years, but there should be an asterisk next to one of those games. In the meaningless 2015 season finale in Dallas, he threw for 176 yards before departing the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Cousins’ lack of yardage in a given game does not necessarily spell doom for his team. The Redskins are 4-3 in Cousins’ “off” games, including 1-1 in the last two weeks.
What has the issue been with Cousins the last couple of weeks?
Against the Chargers, he was off-target on some basic throws, and the offense never got going. In the Cardinals game, he was more accurate, completing 69 percent of his passes. But he kept his throws short as the Redskins got up 14-3 in the second quarter, and they were not aggressive on offense.
But in both games, what was showing was the lack of offensive talent Cousins has around him due to injuries and free agency. Against the Cardinals, he was operating with just two of the Week 1 starters on the offensive line. Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Reed did not play in either game. This season's replacements for DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon — the two 1000-yard receivers who departed as free agents — have not been adequate. Chris Thompson, Cousins’ security blanket, has been on injured reserve for a few weeks.
The replacements have been playing hard, and they have made a few plays. But consistency is the key, and the substitutes haven’t been able to provide it. Cousins has had four games with more than 300 yards passing this year, but given the current state of things, it would be surprising if he got another one of those this year.