Now that the contractual matters are settled, at least until January, it’s time to see what Kirk Cousins can do in his third season as the Redskins’ starting quarterback.
He faces challenges after the departures of his two top wide receivers and offensive coordinator Sean McVay and the pressure of playing for a huge contract. On the plus side, he still has Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, and a passing-oriented head coach in Jay Gruden.
Will he go over or under his 2016 performances in key statistical areas? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay get out the crystal ball and give their analysis.
Completion percentage: 67.0
Tandler: Two years ago, Cousins posted the seventh-best season completion percentage in NFL history (69.8). He reverted toward the norm last year, finishing eighth for the season. Some of that was by design as he threw deeper passes. With some new receivers, I think his completion percentage will fall off just a bit from last year. Under
Finlay: Agree with Tandler here. Cousins has a career 66 completion percentage. I think he comes in north of that but still below 67, maybe 66.5. Under
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Yards passing: 4,917
Tandler: So basically, we are asking if Cousins will put up the tenth 5,000-yard season in NFL history. Quarterbacks not named Drew Brees have done it just four times. I think they run a little more often than they did last year and even if Cousins is very efficient passing he might not have enough attempts to get over 5K. His attempts should drop from the 606 he had last year and only Dan Marino got over 5,000 yards in a season with fewer than 600 attempts. Under
Finlay: 4,600 is the magic number. Cousins and the Redskins threw the ball too often in 2016, and some of that added to the gaudy yardage total. The Redskins need a bit more balance in 2017 to win more games, and some of that will require a better run game. Under
Passing touchdowns: 25
Tandler: This is easy. The Redskins were 29th in red zone efficiency last year. They were in the top 10 in that stat in 2015. They added Terrelle Pryor, 6-4, and Josh Doctson, 6-2, should be in the lineup after his lost rookie season, giving Cousins a pair of prime red zone targets. They may not revert to the top 10 but they will be better in the red zone, good enough for Cousins to throw around 30 TD passes. Over
Finlay: Cousins hasn't thrown 30 touchdowns in a season yet in his career. This is the season he does it. A healthy Jordan Reed can make a big difference in the red zone, as well as a stronger run game. Over
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Rushing touchdowns: 4
Tandler: Cousins is not thought of as a running quarterback. But looking at 2015-2016 combined, he leads the team in rushing touchdowns with nine. How many will he add this year? On the one hand, he has better red zone targets so he might not have to scramble as much. But last year he appeared to have some openings to run that he didn’t take. I’d say he’ll get four on the nose but since that’s not an option I’ll say he gets three. Under
Finlay: All offseason Cousins has talked about being better off-schedule. That will carry over into the red zone as well, and Cousins will again show the wheels. Over