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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.

Timeline

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 Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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If Luke Kuechly wants to coach, would Ron Rivera hire him for the Redskins?

If Luke Kuechly wants to coach, would Ron Rivera hire him for the Redskins?

One of the best linebackers of the last decade, Luke Kuechly retired from football this week in a move that stunned many. For years Kuechly has dealt with injuries, including multiple concussions, and decided his body could not withstand anymore life in the NFL. 

Or at least being on the field. 

A new NFL Network report suggested that Kuechly could be looking to stay in the game in a coaching or consulting role, and that it could happen this season. 

"I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Luke Kuechly in the NFL. As a player we have," Mike Garafolo said on Good Morning Football.

The natural question for Redskins fans becomes if Kuechly could land in Washington. New Redskins coach Ron Rivera was with the Panthers when the team drafted Kuechly ninth overall in 2012, and the duo worked closely together. It's been widely reported that Kuechly and Rivera have a strong relationship too. 

When Kuechly announced his retirement, Rivera took to Twitter to compare the linebacker to Hall of Famers Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher. Rivera also said he "will remember Luke’s sense of humor, his leadership & 4 being a great teammate."

The Redskins recently announced their assistant coaches and linebackers coach Steve Russ worked with Kuechly for the past two seasons in Carolina. There is no assistant linebackers coach on the staff, but that's a role that could be created. There are few rules about assistant coaches in the NFL; for example, last season the Redskins employed an inside linebackers coach and an outside linebackers coach because they played a 3-4 system. This year the team will play the 4-3. 

It's unclear what role Kuechly would want, and while the connection to Rivera is obvious, so is the connection to Carolina. 

"Certainly the Panthers would love to have him be a part of their organization in some capacity," Garafolo said. 

What happens next for Kuechly remains unknown. He just retired from football a few days ago. He might need time to make his next series of decisions. 

Based on Rivera's actions so far as the new Redskins boss, however, it would not be a surprise at all if the head coach tries to get Kuechly to Washington. Rivera has hired just about everyone else that was with the Panthers in the last decade; why not add one more?

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Jason Garrett reportedly to stay in NFC East, becomes Giants offensive coordinator

Jason Garrett reportedly to stay in NFC East, becomes Giants offensive coordinator

Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has agreed to become the new offensive coordinator of the New York Giants, according to a report from ESPN

He will join the staff of first-year head coach Joe Judge.

Garrett was recently let go after a 10-year unimpressive stint with the Dallas Cowboys. In that span, he only led the team to three playoff appearances and with that two playoff wins. 

The team underperformed in 2019 after starting the season with Super Bowl aspirations. Stumbling to an 8-8 record, It became clear that Garrett was the not the answer at head coach. Following the end of the regular season, the team decided to go in another direction replacing him with former Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

The Princeton alum led the Cowboys to an 85-67 overall record during his tenure in Dallas.

As a former backup QB for the Giants (2000-03) and Cowboys (1993-99), he has an extensive background in game-planning against the NFC East.

Judge was named head coach on Jan. 7 after spending eight seasons with the Patriots. He was promoted to special teams coordinator in 2015, and also became the team's wide receiver coach in 2019.

Garrett and Judge will be tasked with developing a young roster with some intriguing options at their disposal, as well as the No. 4 overall pick in April's draft.

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