The Redskins are counting a lot on Kirk Cousins, who is taking up $24 million of their salary cap, to play at a high level and help them win games.
Sunday, in the season-opening loss to the Eagles, he didn’t.
The NFL’s quarterback rating stat doesn’t reveal all but it is a reasonable indicator of a quarterback’s performance.
Cousins’ passer rating on Sunday was 72.9. That was his worst in a game since last year’s season opener when he posted a 72.7 in Washington’s loss to the Steelers.
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In 2015, his first year as a starter, he had a worse rating than he had on Sunday four times. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of them was in the season opener, a 68.7 in a loss to the Dolphins. Maybe Cousins needs to get better at getting ready for the season.
What are the elements of a passer rating? It’s a complex formula but four numbers are at its core: completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown pass percentage and interception percentage. Let’s look at how Cousins fared in each category.
He completed 57.5 percent of his passes. That’s about 10 percentage points below where he was last year and about six percentage points below the league average. Cousins did suffer from some drops but he took some of the heat for those.
“I would start by saying I could be more accurate,” he said when asked about the drops. “I think there were plenty of throws where the pocket was clean and the ball can be more on the mark and I can always make it easier on those guys.”
He threw one interception and one touchdown on his 40 attempts. That is a 2.5 percent rate on both. The league average for interception rate is 2.3 percent and on touchdowns it’s 4.3 percent.
But with interceptions and touchdowns, it’s not always the quantity, it when you make the throws. Cousins’ interception (and lost opportunity for a touchdown pass) came at the worst possible time. The Redskins were trailing 19-17 early in the fourth quarter when Cousins seemed to have Jamison Crowder open near the goal line. But he was rushed, the balled sailed high, and it was picked off by Jalen Mills. Their last good chance to seize the lead and control of the game was gone.
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“There’s a play there to be made to Jamison and that’s the frustrating part,” Cousins said of the play.
“We can hit that, but I was trying to take Terrelle [Pryor] to a spot that I shouldn’t be trying to take him. My eyes were in the wrong place and that leads to what you saw.”
In the final passer rating element, Cousins finished with 240 yards on 40 attempts, a 6.0 average. That’s two full yards below what he did last year and a yard below the league average. He could have brought up his average by completing some long throws but he misfired on some and others were dropped.
Throw all of his numbers into the blender and you get that mediocre 72.9 passer rating. Stats sometime lie but in this case they offer a very accurate picture of what happened on Sunday.