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.
The Redskins last played a game 180 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 72 days.
—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.
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