After the Washington Redskins return from London this blustery Sunday afternoon, their 2016 season will have reached the halfway mark. At some point during the bye, Scot McCloughan and Jay Gruden, along with members of the front office and ownership will meet to devise a plan to help this team reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since Miley Cyrus was innocent. While they will undoubtedly discuss the running back situation and up and down nature of their defense, there is one important detail they should attempt to address that could set the franchise on the right path for years to come. It’s time to sign Kirk Cousins to a long term deal. He has shown that he is a franchise quarterback and has more than earned a long term deal at a fair market value.
If you live in the negative world of social media, you may be wondering how I could I even suggest such a thing. Every Sunday afternoon fans and media sit on their sofas or their uncomfortable press box seats, thumbs fully loaded waiting to pounce. The event they anticipate is the moment when Cousins throws what is perceived as a bad pass that is nearly intercepted. As soon as that happens, like in the Redskins loss to the Lions on Sunday when Cousins lofted a wheel route to Vernon Davis. Unfortunately for Cousins, Ryan Grant ran the wrong route and drew his defender right into the intended path of Cousins’ pass hanging his quarterback out to dry. But for a large percentage of fans and media, they attack with their 140 characters:
Cousins nearly blows it again
Cousins never saw the defender
What was he looking at?
And my personal favorite, Cousins being Cousins
While this rhetoric is cute, if you look at the facts, it’s just false and the numbers prove my point. Since Cousins was named starting QB of the Washington Redskins in September of 2015, he has attempted 808 passes and has thrown 17 interceptions. That is an interception percentage of 2.1%, a lower percentage than Eli Manning (2.25), Matt Ryan (2.33), Cam Newton (2.37), Andrew Luck (2.81) and Ben Roethlisberger (3.17). Big Ben has thrown 5 more picks than Cousins in 6 fewer games!
While he has protected the ball, he is also doing more with it. He is 11th in the NFL with 39 TD passes. If you combine Cousins's passing and rushing touchdowns (45), he has five more total touchdowns than Russell Wilson (40). You may say “Yes but Russell Wilson wins”, but I’ll bet you would be surprised to know that Russell Wilson has only accounted for one more victory (14) than Kirk Cousins (13) since the start of last season. In fact, Cousins' 13 wins as a starter is seventh in the league and it’s the same number of wins as Joe Flacco and Philip Rivers...COMBINED.
Want more numbers? Here you go. Since he was named the starter, Kirk Cousins has the 6 th best QB Rating (98.5) in the league and is #1 in completion percentage (68.81) better than Drew Brees (68.33) and Matthew Stafford (67.47). If Cousins maintains his career completion percentage of 65.5% for another 285 pass attempts (to reach the minimum 1500 pass attempts to qualify), he will be 3rd ALL-TIME in completion percentage, tied with Kurt Warner and better than Peyton Manning (65.3). The argument to completion percentage is Cousins dinks and dunks his way to a high completion percentage...WRONG!
Since being named starter, Cousins’ yards per attempt is 7.63, which is 7th in the NFL That's .11 behind Drew Brees (7.74), and better then noted gunslingers Jay Cutler (7.62) and Rivers (7.52).
People that criticize Cousins must not watch the league. Teams all over the NFL have major QB problems. I can name 10 teams (Jets, Browns, Ravens, Texans, Jags, Titans, Broncos, Bears, Rams, Niners) that have face major quarterback questions and for the first time in over 20 years the Redskins aren’t one of those teams.
In this blog I mentioned 12 current franchise signal callers that Cousins has statistically outperformed since being named starter. Does that make him better than those QBs? Of course not. But what it shows is that Cousins is on par with the top QBs in the game and it’s time for this organization to stop the mistakes of the past and pony up. I hope during the bye week, this organization can step up and get a deal done because I have seen enough and it’s time for Cousins to be FAIRLY compensated and lead this team into the next decade.
Chuck Sapienza is the executive producer of the Naval Academy radio network and the former VP of Programming for ESPN980. He was also a part of the Washington Redskins Radio Network from 2009 to 2015, serving as the network's executive producer. He can be reached at SapienzaChuck@gmail.com
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