Hire a coach with a proven "system" and fans roar with approval. Label some on the team's roster as "system players" and those same fans may squawk.
Andy Benoit knows this, yet the SI.com NFL analyst still went that way when discussing Kirk Cousins with BreakingBurgundy.com
"People hate this term, but Cousins is a system quarterback," Benoit stated before showing the math behind his "system" equation for the record-setting Redskins quarterback.
"There are two type of system quarterbacks, the MMQB.com contributor continued. "Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers where you build the system around them. Then there is where you build the system and plug him in."
This angle, in Benoit's opinion, ties in the current contract negotiations on a long-term deal between the team and its quarterback. Cousins signed the franchise tag earlier this year that will pay nearly $20 million for the 2016 season. That solves this season, though not ideally.
Washington would prefer a deal that would give the QB more guaranteed money, but at a lower per-year cost. That helps with the salary cap, but also doesn't have the Redskins going all in on a quarterback who has only played one full season as an NFL starter. Seeing as Cousins not only put up robust stats -- 29 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and 4,166 passing yards -- but led the Redskins to an NFC East title, what's the holdup with paying the quarterback what he wants.
Here comes that system talk again.
"That's why Washington didn't sign him to a long-term deal this offseason," Benoit said. "If they really believed that he were really something unique or was for sure going to be as good as he looked at times, they would have signed him now because you can probably get a slightly cheaper long-term rate on him now then you would if he does this again next year in theory."
The Redskins can use the franchise tag on Cousins again next year, but the yearly cost increases. One recent report suggested Cousins' representatives see the dollars in the potential back-to-back starting point with any contract talk. At least for the moment, it's not certain if Washington feels the same.
Benoit: "They wanted to pause and wait on [Cousins] as well because they know that they have a really good system in place and that system can probably work with a lot of other quarterbacks running it as well. It's not easy finding other quarterbacks, but Cousins is much more replaceable than other guys in the NFL."
Other NFL analysts' similarly view Cousins in that "system" light. There's also something to be said for executing the plan, something Robert Griffin III struggled with during the 2014 season, the first in Washington under coach Jay Gruden. Cousins overcame some initial struggles to lead the NFL in completion percentage and set a Redskins single-season record for passing yards.
System or not, that's called producing. There are other teams with a system, but lack the production. How much that's worth is something the Redskins are pondering right now.
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