Kirk Cousins’ interceptions are way down in recent weeks.
His sack numbers, though, are way up.
Coincidence? Coach Jay Gruden says there is a connection.
“Yeah, there's a correlation,” Gruden said. “ Sometimes it’s important for a quarterback to understand that sacks are okay from time-to-time. We don’t ever want to have negative plays but we also don’t want to feel pressure and just chuck them up for grabs.”
Which, on occasion, was something Cousins was prone to doing earlier in his career. Heck, even earlier this season.
- Cousins threw eight interceptions in the seven games prior to the bye.
- He’s thrown three interceptions in six games since the bye.
- Cousins was sacked eight times in the seven games before the bye.
- He’s been sacked 15 times in the six games since.
Cousins has indeed appeared more judicious with his passes in the second half of the season. Sunday's victory in Chicago, in fact, is a good example of his cautiousness. He was sacked three times, and it could be argued that all were coverage sacks. Could Cousins have tossed the ball out of bounds? Perhaps. But that's a story for another day.
“I think he’s making better decisions with the ball and he’s making sure that he sees the throw before he lets it fly,” Gruden said. “If he doesn’t see them, he’s holding onto them just a little longer, which, in turn, might mean a sack from time-to-time. Sometimes those are better than the alternative. There’s a fine line…but I think playing the position, the more he plays it the better feel he will get."
Cousins said he isn’t convinced that there’s a direct connection between the decrease in picks and increase in sacks. But he did agree that his decision-making is improving and that he’s got to get better at avoiding sacks.
"I don't know,” Cousins said, asked if he sees a correlation. “I think as I play longer I'm able to gain more experience and continue to become a better decision-maker, which will be an ongoing process as long as I play. I do agree that a lot of those sacks [in recent games] were coverage sacks. I would look back at it and say 'How can I avoid this sack?’ Throw it away, leave the pocket, whatever it may be to avoid that sack. I think even with the higher sack numbers there are still things that I can be doing better to avoid turnovers, but also probably avoid those sacks as well.”