Nobody was surprised when Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions against the Jets on Sunday. This is who he is. It was the tenth time that he has thrown multiple picks in his 20 career games (50%) and the eighth time that he has done so in his 15 career starts (53.3%). He has also thrown at least one interception in 14 of his 20 total career games (70%) and in 12 of his 15 career starts (80%).
Nobody in the NFL has thrown interceptions more often than Cousins has in the last several years. His career interception percentage of 4.25 percent is the highest interception rate among all active quarterbacks with at least 300 career attempts. Luke McCown, Geno Smith, Terrelle Pryor, Rex Grossman and Mark Sanchez are the only other players on this list with a percentage over 3.65 percent. That is an absolutely horrendous set of peers, but it gets worse. Cousins is also the active career leader in Pro Football Reference's interception percentage index.
This metric compares a player’s interception percentage to the league average after adjusting for era. To adjust for era, Pro Football Reference computes how many standard deviations away from the league average each player was in each of his seasons, scaling it so that 100 is league average. Higher is better. Check out this link for the site's full explanation of index metrics.
It's not surprising that Cousins would have the worst index for this statistic among active players, since he also has the worst plain interception percentage among active players in the first place. The real question is how does he look when compared to all of the other quarterbacks in the history of the league. The answer: Not great, Bob! Cousins is the current holder of the 8th worst career interception percentage index in NFL history among all players that have attempted at least 400 passes. The worst three indexes belong to Heath Shuler, Ryan Leaf and Safe Rosenfels. There are virtually no successful quarterbacks ranked anywhere near Cousins on this list.
Many of you have seen me discuss several of these very same points in other installments of Snap Judgments and most recently in Mark Tyler's article titled 'Kirk Cousins Equals Andy Dalton'. In the comments section of that article, I brought up Cousins interception percentage and interception percentage index; and the rebuttal put forth by several of you was that it might not be fair to judge Cousins because of his lack of experience (less than 16 career starts and 700 attempts). Well, there is a fair way to compare him to everyone else with that in mind too.
First, we can see that Cousins ranks even lower in interception percentage index when we restrict things to just the first four years of player's careers. That still wasn't good enough though. So I decided to compare his interception percentage and interception percentage index at this point in his career to the other 28 starting quarterbacks in the league that have attempted at least 400 career passes (Winston, Mariota and Taylor have fewer than 200 attempts) at the point in which they had reached similar levels of on-field experience in their careers. We will basically be looking at a snapshot in time for the other QBs in question.
Index stats look at performance relative to the league average over the course of a year or of several years, so I was not able to look at exactly the first 635 attempts or the first 15 starts of the other quarterback's careers (Cousins has started 15 games and attempted 635 passes). I was, however, able to narrow it down to either the season when the players had started between their 16th and 26th game or to the season when they attempted between their 416th and 857th pass attempt of their careers.
As you can see Kirk Cousins easily has the worst interception index of the group. Only Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford and Carson Palmer had indexes under 83, but all four players are much more talented and were much better college players. That is the reason that each of them was taken number one overall in the draft. Palmer was the only one of them that did not attain a similar level of experience to what Cousins has now until he was 25; the other three players were between 21 and 22-years old. Kirk Cousins is currently 27, and that matters. Age matters.
Everyone wants to act like a player getting his first 16 starts at 21-years old is the same thing as another player who gets his first 16 starts at 27. It is incredibly different. I admit that I've had a hard time explaining my rationale in regards to performance relative to age on this site in the past, but perhaps part of the reason for that is that I'm baffled by the fact that I seem to have to explain this in the first place. But here goes.
For one, it's not as if Cousins or any other player in his situation would learn nothing from being on an NFL team for four years. Also, a lot of Cousins truthers like to throw out the fact that Peyton Manning also threw almost 30 interceptions in his first 16 starts, but what they don't consider is that Manning was 22 at the time. Kirk Cousins was a junior in college during his age-22 season. How many picks do you think a 22-year old Manning would have thrown at Michigan State that year? How would a 27-year old Manning do as the quarterback of this Redskins team? I don't know, but I can tell you that he led the league in passing yards and was an all pro when he was a 27-year old with the Colts.
The only other players on the list above that were 27 or older when they reached a similar level of playing time were Tony Romo and Brian Hoyer. Cousins is nowhere near the caliber of player that the borderline Hall of Famer Romo is (sorry, guys), and I don't think anyone wants to be Brian Hoyer.
Kirk Cousins just simply is not a franchise quarterback or even the long-term answer at the position for the Redskins or any other team. He's had four years to show us that he was; but outside of the briefest of flashes, he has failed to do so time and time again. He throws interceptions more often than almost any quarterback relative to his peers in the entire nearly 100-year history of the NFL, and he has had more than enough time on the field, in the league and in life to figure it all out.
He looks to be nowhere near "figuring it out", and in my opinion these numbers show us that he will likely never be anything more than a serviceable game manager that can only thrive for brief stretches when he is surrounded by elite talent. Talent is something that is in short supply at Redskins Park, especially at the quarterback position.
Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:
- Kirk Cousins and his makeshift offensive line played on all 63 snaps. Derek Carrier matched last week's career-high 58 snaps and hauled in a career-best four passes.
- Much was made over the 14 combined starts between the team's five starting offensive linemen, but their combined career snaps were never discussed. Going into the game the five linemen had only played on a combined 1,207 regular season snaps. More than ten offensive linemen were on the field for over 1,100 snaps in 2014, so that gives you a better idea about the level of experience that the team was working with. And it showed on the field too. Washington averaged a season-low two yards per carry on the ground; also, Kirk Cousins was pressured a season-high 16 times and put up his lowest QBR of the year (36.0).
- Sunday was not a fun day for Josh LeRibeus, but then again it usually isn't. LeRibeus allowed three total QB pressures and the six combined rushes on either side of him went for just 13 yards (2.16 yards per carry). He was the eleventh lowest graded player in the league by PFF in Week 6 (-4.1) and the worst graded center. The Redskins have had the lowest graded player at the center position in four of the 2015 season's six weeks. The Redskins are 0-6 in games when LeRibeus plays on more than 17 percent of the team's snaps and they own a -79 scoring margin in those games (-13.2 average). The team has been outscored by a combined 45 points and thrown six interceptions in LeRibeus' two starts. His only other start came in last year's 14-45 Thursday night loss and interception fest against the Giants.
- Alfred Morris' struggles continued against the Jets. His 21 rushing yards in the game represents the fourth lowest rushing total of his career. The three performances that were worse have all came in the last 12 months, and six of his ten worst rushing performances have come in the last 13 months. This is not just about his number of attempts either, as seven of his ten worst yards per carry games have also come in the last 13 months. Morris' has forced just three missed tackles this season, which is the second lowest total among runners that have handled 25 percent or more of their team's attempts. He ranks dead last (51 out of 51) in PFF's elusive rating.
- Chris Thompson has caught 23 passes on the season, 17 more than his career total of six catches coming into the year. He ranks seventh among all running backs in receptions this season and is on pace to catch more passes than almost any runner in Redskins' history. If he keeps racking up catches at this rate then he will record 61 receptions this season, which would be the sixth most by any running back and third most by a true running back (excluding hybrids Bobby Mitchell and Charley Taylor) in franchise history. Larry Centers is the only Redskins back that has ever caught more passes (27) through the team's first six games than Thompson has this year.
- For the third time in 2015 Darrel Young played on only four snaps. He has only played on fewer than four snaps in one game since 2011. Young has also failed to record more than ten offensive snaps in a game this year. In 2014, he failed to hit 10 snaps six times; but prior to Gruden's arrival, Young only saw the field fewer than ten times on four occasions between 2011 and 2013. If you exclude 2010 and 2011, then Young's snaps per game average of 5.8 and average snap percentage of 8.0% this year are more than half as low as his prior career worsts of 13.1 and 20.0%, which were both set last season. No team that has given an offensive snap to a traditional fullback this season has played the fullbacks on their roster less than the Redskins have (35 total offensive snaps).
- Pierre Garcon caught a red zone touchdown pass against Darrelle Revis, which was the first TD allowed by Revis this season. All three of Garcon's 2015 touchdowns have come in the red zone. He leads the team in red zone TDs and is responsible for half of the club's red zone scores through the air. He is also tied for ninth in the league in this department. His 18 career touchdowns from inside the 20 are almost more than double the player with the second most such scores on the team (DeSean Jackson with 10 RZ TDs). Garcon has as many career touchdowns in the red area as Andre Roberts, Jordan Reed, Derek Carrier, Anthony McCoy and Chris Thompson do combined. I didn't include Grant, Crowder, Ross, Morris and Matt Jones because none of them have ever caught a touchdown pass. Garcon has scored on 18 of his 97 career red zone targets.
- Jamison Crowder led the team in receiving yards for the third consecutive game. He has recorded at least four receptions and 40 receiving yards in each of the four games that he has been on the field for more than 14 offensive snaps.
- Ryan Grant caught two passes for 22 yards against the Jets. Grant has failed to eclipse five receptions and 45 receiving yards in a game this year despite getting three starts and playing in over 60 percent of the team's snaps in four games. Grant actually has never caught more than five passes in a game and has not gone over 45 yards receiving since last year's Week 2 home beatdown of the lowly Jaguars (57 yards). He has never caught a regular season touchdown or two-point conversion. If you don't include practices, then I'm still not sure if he has ever caught a pass in the end zone against an NFL caliber defender in his entire life. He has, however, been the primary target on four passes that were intercepted in his career. I expressed my doubts about Grant in a two-part article in the spring, and now even Rich Tandler is echoing some of those same sentiments.
- The NFL Next Gen Stats app featured 15 plays from Sunday's game. In those plays, the fastest clocked speeds by Redskins were: Trenton Robinson at 20.45 mph, Bashaud Breeland at 20.07 mph, Bashaud Breeland at 19.23 mph, Chris Thompson at 18.33 mph and Jamison Crowder at 18.31 mph. Robinson hit 20.45 miles per hour on Chris Ivory's 32-yard touchdown run. Unfortunately, all of that speed was wasted when Ivory stiff armed Robinson and broke his tackle en route to the end zone. Ivory's top speed of 21.91 mph on that play was the fastest speed reached by a ball carrier in Week 6. Per NFL.com's Chris Wesseling, the Redskins allowed Ivory to travel a total of 542 yards in the game, the most ground covered by a running back last week.
Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:
- Dashon Goldson and Ryan Kerrigan led the defense with 67 snaps. Goldson is now the only defensive player to be on the field for all 379 defensive snaps this season. He is on pace to exceed 1,000 defensive snaps on the season. That would mark the first time that he has played on more than 807 snaps in a season since 2012 when he got on the field 1,027 times. Joe Barry may want to find a way to give some rest to the fourth oldest player on the active roster.
- You've all heard about the Redskins' third quarter woes, but I'm still not sure that everyone understands just how bad they have been in the third frame of games this year. Washington's -43 third quarter scoring margin is tied for the 34th worst by a team through the first six games of the season since 1940 and likely of all time. Only the -50 third quarter margin by the 1998 Redskins is worse in franchise history.
- Most of those teams turned things around in the third quarter over the course of the season, at least to some degree. However, if the Redskins do not, then they are going to make history in infamous fashion. They are currently on pace to finish the season with a negative 115 point scoring margin in the third; and if they hit that number, they will break the season-long third quarter scoring margin record of -103 set by the Vikings in 1962. Come on, Jay; teams are supposed to make adjustments and right the ship after halftime, not implode.
- Coming into last week's game against the Falcons, Washington had only allowed five different opposing running backs to rush for 100 yards since the start of the 2013 season. In the last two weeks, the Redskins defense has allowed Devonta Freeman to rush for 153 yards and Chris Ivory to rack up 146 yards on the ground. Washington had only allowed three teams as a whole to rush for more than 175 yards against them since the start of 2013. Both the Falcons and the Jets exceeded 175 rushing yards in the last two weeks against the Redskins.
- The defense blitzed a season high 12 times and on 43 percent of New York's dropbacks. The previous highs in those categories were seven blitzes and 19 percent. Unfortunately, Joe Barry's plan to bring additional defenders after Ryan Fitzpatrick did not pay off. Fitzpatrick's two touchdown passes came against the blitz, he was not sacked in the game and his interception was not thrown on a play in which the defense blitzed. Washington has only blitzed 36 times this season and five of the team's nine touchdown passes have been allowed on one of those plays.
- Ryan Kerrigan led the team with four total QB pressures, but received his worst PFF grade (-1.4) of the year in the process and his second worst rating since the final week of the 2013 season. He only made one total tackle on the day. Meanwhile, Trent Murphy failed to pressure the quarterback for the second week in a row and for the fifth time in his last eight games. You would think that down games by the two starters would lead to more playing time for Preston Smith, but it did not. For the first time this season, Smith's snap totals did not increase relative to the prior week's total. Even Jackson Jeffcoat out-snapped Smith in pass rushing situations by a count of four to two.
- Perry Riley allowed all four passes thrown in his direction to be completed for a total of 50 yards. Both he and Keenan Robinson allowed a team-worst QB rating of 118.8 when targeted. Riley's PFF grade of -2.8 was one of the five worst among inside linebackers in Week 6 and the sixth worst rating of his career.
- Bashaud Breeland incredibly intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and recovered two fumbles against New York, and he did all of that in the first half. He is the only player in the last 20 years to accomplish that feat in just one half of football. He also deflected a pass and recorded four total tackles. With two interceptions and a forced fumble, Breeland is now responsible for three of the team's nine turnovers (33.3%) in 2015. His eight passes defended on the year are tied for fifth most in the league this year.
- Dashon Goldson recorded a team-high seven solo tackles and 13 total tackles in the game. Goldson was also tied for the team lead in missed tackles, with two of them. He is averaging over one whiff a game, and he and Trenton Robinson are tied for the second worst PFF grade among all safeties this year (-7.2). He has, however, allowed fewer than 100 yards receiving and has not allowed a touchdown this season; so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:
- Jeron Johnson took back the top spot in special team snap counts after giving way to Will Compton in this department last week. Johnson has led the Redskins in special teams snaps in five of the team's six games this year.
- Johnson also led the team in special teams tackles against the Jets with three of them. His five teams tackles are on the most on the team this year. Preston Smith, Jackson Jeffcoat and DeShazor Everrett also picked up specials tackles in New York. PFF also credits Everett with a solo tackle, but they also hold him responsible for three missed tackles.
- Johnson wasn't done there either, as he blocked a punt and became the first Redskin to do so in nearly the last nine years. Rashad Ross recovered the fumble for a touchdown. It has been almost 12 years since a Washington player did that.
- For the fifth consecutive week, the Redskins committed a special teams penalty. This time both Mason Foster and Jackson Jeffcoat were called for running into the kicker infractions. Foster's penalty was declined after the Redskins fair caught the ball at their own 11.
- Dustin Hopkins kicked two more field goals in this game, including a career-long 54-yarder. It was Hopkins second 50-plus yard make on the season, as last week he hit from 52 yards out in Atlanta. That's quite an improvement over Kai Forbath's leg; whose longest career field goal was for 50 yards. The record for 50 yard field goals by a Washington kicker in a single season is four and the record for the most in a Redskins career is 12 by Mark Moseley. Chip Lohmiller and Brett Conway rank second and third on the career list with nine and five of them respectively. If Dustin Hopkins continues to hit 50-yard field goals at this pace, then he will break all of those records by next season.
- After a disappointing start to the year, Tress Way has turned things around in the last two weeks. His averages of 48 yards per punt and 42.3 net yards per punt against New York were the seventh and sixth best marks of his career. Four of his worst seven averages in both categories came in the first four weeks of this season.
Redskins Advanced Analytics Rankings:
|2015 Redskins||SRS||ESPN FPI||nERD||ELO Rating||Total PFF||DVOA|
**All statistics are courtesy of 538, ESPN, Football Outsiders, NFL.com, NFL Game Books, NFL Next Gen Stats, numberFire, Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference**