When a team makes a player the highest paid player at his position for the year there are going to be high expectations. When that team is the Washington Redskins and that player is Kirk Cousins we had better like that. More importantly, Scot McCloughan had better like that or we’ll be back on the quarterback search trail. But what does Cousins have to do for Scot McCloughan to like that? There were things Cousins did exceptionally well last season. But when you’re paying a player like a top five player at his position, even if it’s on the franchise tag, he needs to perform as such. Did Cousins? Let’s take a look.
7th in Completions but outside top ten in attempts.
7th in Passing Yards Per Attempt.
5th in Passer Rating.
Outside the top ten in Interceptions.
8th in Adjusted Yards Per Pass Attempt.
7th in Net Yards Per Pass Attempt.
8th in Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt.
10th in Pass Completions Per Game.
1st in Pass Completion Percentage.
7th in Sack Percentage.
8th in Game-Winning Drives.
10th in Comebacks.
2nd in Fumbles Recovered.
7th in Completions but 10th in passing yards.
Outside the top ten in Passing Attempts Per Game.
Outside the top ten in Interception Percentage.
Outside the top ten in Passing Touchdown Percentage.
Outside the top ten in Passing Touchdowns.
Outside the top ten in Passing Yards Per Game.
Outside the top ten in Yards Per Completion.
8th in Fumbles.
Outside the top ten in Total Offense.
What Cousins has to do to justify the Franchise Tag and command a long-term contract:
Cousins threw 29 touchdowns last season. The top five quarterbacks threw an average of 35 touchdowns.
Cousins’ touchdown percentage was 5.3%. The top five average was 6.5%.
Cousins’ yards per attempt was 7.7. The top five average is 8.4.
Cousins’ adjusted yards per attempt is 7.8. The top five average is 8.6.
Cousins’ yards per completion average is 11. The top five average is 13.
Cousins’ yards per game is 260.4. The top five average is 300.
Cousins’ net yards per attempt is 6.99. The top five average is 7.7.
Cousins’ adjusted net yards per attempt is 7.14. The top five average is 7.75.
Cousins’ sack percentage is 4.6. The top five average is 3.0.
One can gather from the above much improvement is expected of Kirk Cousins this season. Not only should he have better passing protection thanks to the replacement of Josh (What’s the snap count, again?) LeRibeus but he also has an additional receiving weapon in 2016 1st round draft selection Josh Doctson and another red zone target in off-season acquisition Vernon Davis. One has to assume the rushing attack will be better this season. (How could it possibly be worse?)
Cousins will be on a long leash this season because when you’re paying a player over $1.0MM per game you’re not paying him to sit on the bench. The only way he’s not playing is if he is injured. That could be good for Cousins or it could be disastrous. If he’s playing up to expectations expect him to get paid like a top five quarterback. Before complaining about the potential cost involved take a moment to remember the quarterback history of the team over the course of the last twenty-five seasons. If he’s not playing up to the level expected it’s going to be a long and painful season for him, for Scot McCloughan, who will have to begin scouting quarterbacks mid-season, for Jay Gruden whose job is balancing on Cousins’ performance, and for the fans.
The real question is: If Cousins performs marginally well, as in top ten but not top five, what does the team do? They almost certainly won’t tag Cousins again. That gets very expensive. If the Skins offer him top ten money but not top five money will he take it? Or will he take his chances on the open market? Is he really a team player? If he is, I like that.