Redskins bye week grades: Quarterback
At times the Redskins look like a team that could make some serious noise in the playoffs and at other times they look like a team that will struggle to make the playoffs. At 4-3-1, they’re still in the thick of things as they catch a breather at the bye. It’s been an interesting couple of months, indeed, and over the next few days CSN Mid-Atlantic reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will hand out their first half grades, position-by-position.
Tandler: Kirk Cousins, the only quarterback who has taken a snap this year, has been a mixed bag so far. In his second full season as the Redskins’ starter he is on pace to shatter his own team records for attempts, completions, and passing yards. But the aerial show that he and the receivers are putting on has not been as much fun as it could be as all too often drives are being stopped short of the end zone.
How much of the blame for their 40 percent conversion rate in the red zone can be blamed on Cousins? For example, against the Bengals they were 1-4 in the red zone. But one of those possessions ended when Gruden decided to go for it on fourth down and the Bengals stuffed the run. And another ended with Dustin Hopkins’ missed 34-yard field goal, a kick attempted on third down. So they go down as failed red zone trips but the failure can hardly be laid at the feet of the quarterback.
While we can put a lot of his numbers under the microscope and find fault here and there the fact is that Cousins has put his team in position to win the last six games. He left the field in Detroit after having given his team a four-point lead with 1:05 to do and he went to the sideline in London with Hopkins lining up for a chip shot field goal. Cousins has done his job.
Finlay: The specutlation surrounding Cousins hit overdrive during the bye week, perhaps as the Redskins slightly slumped into their week off after winning four straight games. Tandler isn't wrong, Cousins put Washington in position to win in Detroit and in London against the Bengals. But if we're pointing that out, it's also worth pointing out that the Redskins were in position to win against Dallas in Week 2 until a very costly Cousins end zone interception.
Are the red zone struggles all Cousins' fault? Absolutely not. Is he a contributor? Certainly.
The Redskins proxy version of the West Coast Offense calls for Cousins to quickly get rid of the ball, identify and release. He does it well, to the tune of 2,454 passing yards, 2nd most in the NFL through eight weeks. And that works to chunk down the field, often connecting with Jamison Crowder and the tight ends on underneath and shallow crossing routes. But eventually, that real estate tightens up, and in the red zone, defenses don't have to defend downfield.
One of the most accurate passers in the NFL, one statistical example that shows the lack of big plays from Cousins comes in the form of yards-per-completion. Per Pro Football Reference, Cousins averages 11.4 yards-per-completion, good for 15th in the NFL, ranking behind players like Marcus Marriota, Case Keenum and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Cousins has definitely been good, but not great. The second half of 2015, he was great. Washington brass wants to see that again the second half of 2016.
Consensus Grade: 89.9 %
Tandler and JP grade the Redskins at the bye: