Kirk Cousins, 4th round pick of the Washington Redskins in the NFL Draft, had surprised the masses with his play this season. Is he the real deal or do the season-ending stats misrepresent how good he was that season?
First of all, I want to clear something up. No, I’m not a fan of the Washington Redskins, quite the opposite actually. That doesn’t mean I can’t remain impartial when blogging about them. I believe it is very important to remain objective when writing in this type of forum. Not promising that I won’t throw some bias in at times, but I try to keep it as objective as possible. Back to Kirk.
If you don’t already know, Kirk Cousins was taken in the same draft as Robert Griffin III, who was then thought to be the future of the franchise. Washington gave up 3 first-rounders and second-round picks to move up and get RGIII. Kirk Cousins was taken in the 4th round out of Michigan State. At the time, many questioned the selection and thought it would create a QB controversy among the two rookies. I mean, you can’t blame them why give up the farm for a guy and then draft his backup a few rounds later? That would make me question a few things if I were RGIII. Maybe even affects my confidence a bit. Turns out it was the smartest thing they could’ve done. Most know the RGIII saga, so I’ll spare you on that one. Let’s take a closer look at Cousins and what he has meant to the Washington Redskins this season. It hasn’t all been pretty, but lately remarkable.
During the first 6 games of the season, the Redskins struggled, so did Kirk. The team’s record was 2-4 and Cousins’ numbers were pretty bleak as well. I talked to a few of my friends about Cousins early on in the year and they would throw out excuse after excuse, most of which was dropped balls. I don’t watch many Redskins’ games, but if drops are overly excessive for one team or player, you’ll usually hear about it. This wasn’t the case here. I checked the stats for the whole year. No player on the Washington Redskins ranked in the top 66 in dropped passes. Number 67 on that list, RB Chris Thompson with 3 drops. So there goes that claim. Another legitimate argument could be the injuries to key targets Desean Jackson and Jordan Reed. That surely holds more weight than the drops argument. But let’s face it, Kirk just wasn’t that good to start the year. Okay, I’ll cut the guy some slack, this was, after all, set to be his first full year as a starter.
The NFC East Title
Kirk and the team really started to come on in Week 10 vs the New Orleans Saints. Then again, playing against that abysmal secondary could jumpstart any one season, but I digress. Cousins went 20/25 for 324 yards 4 TDs and 0 INTs that game. Impressive. The Redskins routed the Saints 47-14. Including this game, to finish the season, Kirk led his team to a 6-2 record and the NFC East Title. His numbers weren’t too shabby either. While completing better than 73% of his passes, he threw for 19 TDs and only 2 INTs. Cousins also ended up setting a Redskins record for total passing yards for a single season. All very impressive.
My main concern with Cousins this year and going forward is this; can he win against good teams and when does it count? Though it seems he can win down the stretch, can he do so when facing a playoff-caliber opponent? That’s the big question I have about Kirk Cousins. The Washington Redskins faced 4 teams this year that ended up finishing at .500 or better on the season (I excluded the Bills 8-8 due to their elimination from playoff contention at the time), all 4 of those games, ended with a loss. How did Cousins perform in these games? Well not what Redskins fans would’ve hoped for. In these four games (Falcons, Jets, Patriots, Panthers), Kirk Cousins went 90/144 (62.5%), averaged 209 YPG, had 4 TDs and 6 INTs. On average, a QB rating of 71.3 (for those of you that find that as a reliable statistic). Yes, most of these games were early on in the season (his first full one as a starter), but they still cannot be ignored.
Big picture, yes Kirk Cousins seems to be the “real deal” and likely, the future franchise QB of the Washington Redskins. But, let’s not go anointing him just yet. The real test is this weekend vs Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Either way Redskins fans, even after giving up the farm for an apparent bust, you Dan Snyder and Co. seemed to have gotten it right this time around. Only time will tell.
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