Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, September 10, three days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.
Can Cousins help the Redskins cut down on sacks?
The Redskins quarterbacks had problems staying upright last year.
Opponents racked up 58 sacks against the Redskins last year. Only the Jaguars, with 72, allowed more.
Yes, the Redskins threw a lot but when you control for that and look at their sack percentage you come up with 9.6, still the second-worst performance in the league next to the Jaguars.
Yes, the offensive line had its weak links, perhaps more weak ones than strong ones. But a closer look at the numbers indicates that the quarterbacks likely had something to do with it.
Robert Griffin III, who started seven games, was sacked 13.3 percent of the times he dropped back to pass (33 sacks/247 drop backs). Colt McCoy was sacked 11.7 percent of his dropbacks (17/145) and Kirk Cousins on 3.8 percent (8/212).
As they sang on Sesame Street, one of these things is not like the others. Playing behind the same line as the other two quarterbacks Cousins got sacked a third as often as McCoy and three and a half times less often than Griffin.
Cousins’ sack rate wasn’t just the best on the team; it would have been one of the best in the league if he had thrown enough passes to qualify. If he had enough attempts he would have ranked fifth in the league, just behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
But they utilize the minimum attempts for a reason, to prevent making definitive judgments based on a small sample size. Cousins’ numbers were compiled over basically five games, about a third of the season. With that precaution about jumping to broad conclusions based on limited data, let’s look at how Cousins could help the Redskins’ offense.
As noted, the Redskins suffered 58 sacks last year. Had Cousins taken every drop back and maintained the sack rate he had last year the Redskins would have taken 20 sacks. They lost a total of 414 yards to sacks (7.1 per sack). With the lower sack rate they would have saved a total of 272 yards of field position.
But those 272 yards would not have been the only benefit of fewer sacks. You have to assume that the quarterbacks would have completed some passes when not getting sacked. So if they had 38 additional pass attempts and gained Cousins’ 2014 average of 8.4 yards per attempt they would have had an additional 319 yards passing. Add those to the 272 they would not have lost and you have an additional 591 net passing yards. That would move them from 11th in the league in passing yards to fifth.
There are a lot of numbers there and they’re both hypothetical and based on a small sample size. Still, it shows you how much taking fewer sacks can help the offense. There is no guarantee that they will do this if Cousins starts 16 games but it is certainly something to look for.
—Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann was born on this date in 1949.
—Today’s schedule: Practice 11:40; Jay Gruden news conference and player availability after practice (approx. 1:30)
—It’s been 256 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 3 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.
—Days until: Rams @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 14; Eagles @ Redskins 24
In case you missed it
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- Gruden says Redskins have 'full confidence' in Cousins
- Redskins punter Tress Way gets honored by teammates
- Will the Dolphins have their left tackle for the Redskins game on Sunday?
- Cousins on Skins offense: 'We don't have to do it spectacularly'
- The 53 on the Redskins’ roster mostly healthy for Week 1
- Joe Gibbs gives his take on Cousins as Redskins' starting QB
- The Redskins' five most important games in 2015