It looks like Kirk Cousins may finally be starting to turn his career around. In Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints he put up one of the best statistical lines by a quarterback in franchise history.
Per Pro Football Perspective he became only the 22nd QB since 1960 to throw for over 300 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions and to complete over 80 percent of his passes when doing so. He became just the tenth QB since then to also do that with a perfect passer rating. He is the only Redskins player in both groups.
Cousins is also just the 27th quarterback with a perfect passer rating on 20 or more attempts since 1960 and the 14th QB to do it on 25 or more attempts. Again, no other Redskin accomplished this in that time span. According to NFL.com's Randall Liu, you have to go all the way back to Sammy Baugh in 1948 just to find a Washington QB that threw for over 300 yards and had a passer rating of over 150 in a game.
All indications are that the Redskins 59-21 blowout of the Boston Yanks on October 31st, 1948 was the contest in question. In that game, Baugh completed 17 of his 24 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns. That, however, was not good enough to earn him a perfect 158.3 quarterback rating (152.8).
I took it a step further by looking at all of the Redskins' games in Pro Football Reference's database with player statistics available to see if there were any other instances of a Washington QB throwing for over 300 yards with a perfect QB rating before 1948. I was unable to find any other such games, so Kirk Cousins is most likely the only Redskins QB in history to throw for over 300 yards with a perfect passer rating and is only the second player in team history to do it with a rating of over 150 (Baugh in 1948).
He is actually only the third Redskins QB since 1960 to achieve a QB rating of 158.3 (minimum of 10 attempts), and he is the only one to do so on more than 15 attempts. Robert Griffin hit that mark on 15 attempts against the Eagles in his rookie campaign and Sonny Jurgensen had a perfect rating almost exactly 50 years ago in October of 1965 against the Rams.
He was just awarded with the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award for his efforts in Sunday's game. This is the second time that he has received this honor this season, in the last four weeks and in his last three games.
Cousins is on pace to finish the season with a line of approximately 402 completions for 4,050 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a completion percentage of 68 percent. That yardage mark would be the second best in franchise history and only 60 yards behind the all-time team record (Jay Schroeder with 4,109 yards in 1986). His current completion percentage of 67.9 percent is the third best in team history, behind only Sammy Baugh's 70.3% in 1945 and Robert Griffin's 68.69% last season. His projected 402 completions would shatter the old record of 327 completions in a season. With a QB rating of 89.9, he is also well within range of finishing with the sixth best passer rating in a season by a Redskins QB in team history (Sammy Baugh's 1947 season is currently in sixth with a 92.0 rating).
He is far from a finished product and he still needs to prove that he can perform at a high level on the road, against elite defenses and on a consistent basis in general; but if Kirk Cousins continues to improve at this rate and if the Redskins can field a healthy team around him, then it looks like he just might prove himself to be a competent and capable starting NFL quarterback before the season is out.
Offensive Snaps and Takeaways:
- Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses and Spencer Long played on all 62 snaps. Colt McCoy, Ty Nsekhe and Brian De La Puente came into to relieve Kirk Cousins, Trent Williams and Josh LeRibeus respectively on the team's final drive. Many fans will be happy to hear that Darrel Young and Tom Compton each played on their second highest snap percentages of the year.
- The 33-point defeat of the Saints represented the 19th largest margin of victory in franchise history (3 games in the 1930s not included in link) and the second biggest margin since Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999 (35-point defeat of San Francisco in 2005). The 47 points scored and 526 yards of total offense compiled by the team were the 12th and eighth best marks in franchise history respectively (all numbers include playoff games). The Redskins yards per play average of 8.92 was the highest average put forth by the team since 1952.
- After three straight subpar performances, Brandon Scherff turned things around against New Orleans. Scherff did not allow a QB pressure of any kind for only the second time this season and the first time since Week 2; and Redskins rushers ran for 62 yards on six carries combined when they ran on either side of him (10.3 yards per carry average). Scherff's PFF grade of 2.1 was the third best on the offense this week and was the highest grade of his career.
- Center and neighboring offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus didn't fare quite as well. LeRibeus allowed two pressures and received a team-worst rating of -2.1. He has allowed a pressure and has not received a positive grade in all five of his games this season. He was the ninth lowest graded center in Week 10 and has the seventh lowest graded player at his position on the year. Get ready, de la Puente. Your time is coming.
- After dropping seven passes last week against New England, the Redskins did not drop a single ball on Sunday. This was the second game this year in which they did not drop a pass (Week 2 vs. St. Louis).
- That wasn't the only negative trend that was reversed this week either. Going into this game, the Redskins ranked dead last in the league in big plays (runs of 10 or more yards and passes of 25 or more yards) with just 25 of them and average of 3.1 big or explosive plays per game this year. Against the Saints they more than tripled their per game average with ten big plays. As a result of Sunday's offensive outburst, 28.5 percent of the team's big plays this season came against New Orleans on Sunday, including their longest play of the year: a 70-yard Matt Jones receiving touchdown.
- Matt Jones was out-snapped by Alfred Morris for the first time since Week 4, but that didn't stop Jones from racking up a game-high 162 yards from scrimmage. His 131 receiving yards in the game were the second most receiving yards by a Redskins running back since 1960, when Dick James caught five passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Jones' 542 yards from scrimmage currently leads the team this season and ranks fifth in the NFL among all rookies. He is second on the team with four touchdowns, behind only Jordan Reed, who has six of them. And don't forget that Jones missed a game and that he has only played on 31 percent of the Redskins' offensive snaps this year.
- Jamison Crowder led all Washington receivers in snaps, targets and receptions for the second week in a row. He has also had either the most or the second most snaps in route and receiving yards among Redskins wideouts in each of the last two weeks. Those numbers make it sound like he is the WR1 on this team, and if you want to call him that then I won't argue with you.
- I feel like I'm really starting to run out of ways to praise Jordan Reed's play, but here goes. Reed is an unstoppable force in the red zone. He ranks sixth in the NFL in red zone targets (13), fifth in receptions (8), 12th in yards (51) and second in touchdowns (6). What makes those numbers truly amazing is the fact that he has only played in seven games this season and ranks 25th among all tight ends in snaps. Reed has caught 43% of Kirk Cousins touchdown passes this season. His red zone target-to-touchdown conversion rate of 46% ranks fifth in the league among all players with at least 8 red zone targets this year.
- The NFL Next Gen Stats app only featured 7 plays from Sunday's game, so there aren't many fast times to report this week. In those plays, the fastest clocked speeds by Redskins were: Pierre Garcon at 20.05 mph, Dashon Goldson at 16.49 mph and Jamison Crowder at 15.73 mph.
Defensive Snaps and Takeaways:
- For the first time this season there was not a Redskins defender that played on every one of the team's defensive snaps. This was a case when they simply didn't need to. Role players Houston Bates, Deshazor Everett and Mason Foster all saw season-high snap totals, while banged up veterans DeAngelo Hall and Terrance Knighton played on a season-low number of plays.
- Maybe somebody in the Redskins front office is reading Snap Judgments because they definitely took some of our advice this week. Jason Hatcher played on a season-low 27 snaps and both Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean-Francois saw season-high snap percentages (45.6% and 47.4%). Paea tallied another sack and Jean-Francois added two QB hurries.
- Trent Murphy got a sack and pressured the QB more than once for the first time since the Redskin's Week 4 win against the Eagles. He was the highest graded Redskins defender this week (3.3). Meanwhile, Preston Smith recorded at least one QB pressure for the seventh consecutive game. Smith ranks higher in PFF's pass rushing productivity metric this season than any of the team's other outside linebackers do (9.9). Ryan Kerrigan had another quiet day, picking up just two tackles on 44 snaps.
- Perry Riley played as well as he has all season and really made a statement with his performance against the Saints. He did allow five receptions for 43 yards, but for once he held his own in coverage by recording two pass deflections and an amazing one-handed interception. He also ranked third on the team with six total tackles, after not tallying one tackle of any kind last week. Riley's PFF grade of 2.4 was the third highest on the defense, the seventh best among all inside linebackers in Week 10 and the fifth best on record in his six-year career. Perhaps, Riley's injuries really were significantly limiting him.
- Will Compton got the start in place of Keenan Robinson and recorded eight total tackles and a pass deflection on the day. Jay Gruden intimated that Compton's increased playing time was the product of both Keenan Robinson's injuries and his poor play; and that makes sense considering that Robinson is the second worst rated player at his position. Compton has only 10 fewer tackles than Robinson this year and he has played on almost 200 fewer snaps.
- Per Pro Football Focus' Trey Cunningham, DeAngelo Hall played 17 snaps at free safety. PFF has Hall at a total of 17 snaps played in the game, so according to them he worked exclusively as a safety against the Saints. The NFL Game Book, however, has him at 18 snaps so there is a possibility that he played one snap in a different role. According to Cunningham, most of Hall's snaps came on third down and on the Saints' final garbage time drive. Hall was not targeted in the game and recorded two tackles. He didn't make any really big plays in the game, but sometimes no news is good news when you're a defensive back.
- Dashon Goldson, on the other hand, was very busy making plays against New Orleans. Goldson made a team-best five stops on the day. He currently leads the team in solo (47) and total tackles (71) this season. Goldson also deflected a pass and returned an interception for a touchdown on Sunday. His return TD was the team's first defensive touchdown in over two years. The last one took place on October 27, 2013 when DeAngelo Hall took an interception to the house against the Broncos in a 45-21 loss. The Redskins have only scored touchdowns on 21 defensive plays since 2000. Looking on the bright side, Washington has now forced a turnover in six consecutive games.
- Chris Culliver allowed a team-worst five receptions, 114 yards and a touchdown in the game. I'm a fan of Culliver, but even I have to admit that he isn't having a good season. Culliver ranks 97th among all corners that have played on at least 25 percent of their team's snaps in overall grade and coverage grade. He ranks 103rd in yards per coverage snap allowed. He had a good start to the season though, so I am hoping that his poor play is a result of that and not of just being a poor player in general.
- Washington's run defense showed improvement this week with the exception of one first quarter play. On the Saints' first drive of the game, Dashon Goldson's missed tackle of Mark Ingram resulted in a 70-yard gain by the former Alabama runner and the Saints scored a touchdown two plays later. New Orleans gained nearly half of their 158 rushing yards on that play alone and became the fifth consecutive team to rush for 150 or more yards against Washington. This is only the sixth time since 1940 that the Redskins have allowed opponents to rush for 150 or more yards against them in five straight games. Their rushing offense turned things around this week, but the defense still has some work to do in this area.
Special Teams Snaps and Takeaways:
- For only the second time this season, a player other than Jeron Johnson or Darrel Young led the Redskins in special teams snaps. This time it was Trenton Robinson's turn (20 snaps), who looks to have essentially swapped roles with Johnson. Much like Johnson did in each of the first four weeks of the season, Robinson led the team in special teams playing time and did not record a defensive snap. This was the first game this year in which he was not on the field for a single defensive play. This also marks the second week in a row that he has seen a season-low number of defensive snaps (32 vs. New England). Robinson remains entrenched as PFF's lowest graded safety in the league.
- The promotion of Houston Bates from the practice squad to the active roster looks to be paying off, as Bates recorded a special teams solo tackle for the second week in a row (2 last week). He was joined by Dustin Hopkins (1) and Deshazor Everett (2) in this department. With his two special teams solo tackles in the game, Everett now leads the Redskins in solo special teams tackles this season with five of them and is tied for the lead in total special teams tackles with Jeron Johnson. This was the second game this season and in the last month that Everett has recorded multiple special teams stops in a game (Week 7 vs. Tampa Bay).
- PFF did not credit a Redskins special teams player with a missed tackle for only the second time this season (Week 2 vs. St. Louis). The team as a whole actually only missed a total of four tackles on the day. That's quite an improvement from last week's performance, when they missed a whopping 22 missed tackles on defense alone.
- Washington's two game streak of not committing a special teams penalty was snapped when both Ryan Grant and Trenton Robinson were called for holding penalties on return plays against the Saints.
- It appears that Andre Roberts was left off the active game-day roster in favor of Rashad Ross, so that Ross could return to his kick return duties after being inactive in last week's game. Unfortunately, he did not acquit himself well in this contest. Ross wasted easy yardage on the opening kickoff when he danced around in an attempt to make a big play and returned his only other kickoff of the day to just the 21-yard line. He was not targeted on his four offensive snaps.
- In stark contrast to his work as a receiver, Jamison Crowder still has not found any success on punt returns. He took his four returns against the Saints for a total of just 26 yards. Crowder's yards per punt return average on the season of 4.94 ranks last in the NFL among all players with more than ten returns this year.
- Dustin Hopkins booted six touchbacks against the Saints on Sunday. I believe that six touchbacks in a game is tied for the most by a Redskins kicker in modern recorded history (touchback data only available dating back to 1991). Coincidentally, Billy Cunfdiff also kicked six touchbacks for the Redskins on nine kickoffs against the Saints in Robert Griffin's first career game in 2012.
- Hopkins was perfect on field goal tries yet again, as he went 4-4 against the Saints. He has hit on 16 of 17 attempts this season, and his 94.1 field goal percentage this year is the third best mark by a Redskins kicker through the first nine games of the season since 1960 (minimum 10 attempts). Hopkins is also one of only 14 kickers this year that has not missed on an extra point (minimum of 10 attempts).
Redskins Advanced Analytics Rankings:
|2015 Redskins||PFR SRS||ESPN FPI||numberFire nERD||538 ELO Rating||Sagarin Rating||Total PFF||FO DVOA|
**All statistics are courtesy of 538, ESPN, Football Outsiders, NFL.com, NFL Game Books, NFL Next Gen Stats, numberFire, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, Sporing Charts and USA Today**