Kirk Cousins was perfect in the Redskins blowout win over New Orleans. Literally, he finished the game with a perfect QB rating. Few QBs have had a better game than Cousins did Sunday, more than 300 yards passing and four touchdowns; he was great.
On the heels of that perfromance, contract questions have popped up repeatedly concerning Cousins. The fourth-round pick of the 2012 draft, his contract will expire at the end of this season, and Washington GM Scot McCloughan has until March to work on a new deal with the QB before Cousins hits the open market. Former Redskins and Texans GM Charley Casserly suggested Cousins will land a deal in the $16 to $20 million range, and after the Saints game, that number might be going up.
But it's important fans look beyond just the Saints game and the whole body of work. Cousins is having a solid year, and he appears to have tamed his turnover tendencies. Through nine games, he's thrown for more than 2,200 yards with 14 TDs and nine INTs while completing about 68 percent of his passes.
One area, however, Cousins has not found much success are on deep balls. According to Pro Football Focus, Cousins grades poorly on passes of over 20 yards. For the season, Cousins has thrown deep 36 times, completing just seven passes for 230 yards. More so, Cousins doesn't throw deep much, with passes of 20 yards or more accounting for just 10.8 percent of his total throws, good for last place among QBs graded.
Certainly there are factors, none bigger than the absence of DeSean Jackson for the bulk of the season. Without Jackson, the Redskins lacked a true vertical threat, limiting Cousins ability to look for big gains. There's also a relatively conservative game plan instituted by coach Jay Gruden that has muted the downfield opportunities.
Still, the numbers tell a story. In the win over the Saints - a team gouged through the air all season - Cousins only threw one pass for more than 20 yards, and that came on the first drive of the game on a key third down conversion to Jackson. Again, Cousins pitched a perfect game against New Orleans, so no fault in finding recievers open on short and intermediate routes.
But big picture, the Redskins need a QB that is capable of going downfield. To compete on the highest levels in the NFL, an explosive offense is a must. Is Cousins that QB? The next seven games Washington should have a healthy DeSean Jackson, and Cousins should look to find him deep. If that happens, Cousins asking price climb even higher. If not, McCloughan will have one more thing to consider this offseason.
Let us know what you think in the comments.