Kirk Cousins likes to look at numbers. Two, in particular, get his attention.
"I always like to look at third down and red zone as two important ones,” the Redskins quarterback said last week. “You know, if you’re over 50 percent in both of those, you’re going to be near the top of the league, in a better position that most teams, so that’s something we’re always going to look at.”
Cousins was referring to the overall performance of the offense on third down and inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. But he certainly examines his own performance in those areas and he can’t be happy with what he sees so far this season, especially considering how good his numbers were in those key areas in 2015.
Let’s take a look at his performances on third down passes this year compared to 2015 (stats via Pro Football Reference.com):
First thing, let’s establish that 2016 is a small sample size, so it would be a mistake to draw any lasting conclusions. But this year’s numbers do serve as a snapshot of how Cousins has played in the first two games this year. And it’s not good compared to the previous year or the rest of the league (the league’s QBs have a cumulative 89.4 this year).
I also took a quick peek at Cousins’ third-down numbers for the first two games last year, during the period he supposedly was struggling. He completed 75 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions, a passer rating of 84.8.
How about Cousins’ passing stats in the red zone?
Again, the small sample size warning applies here. But like with the third down numbers you don’t need any kind of advanced degree in statistics to figure out that Cousins isn’t getting it done in an area where he got it done last year. To look at an even smaller sample, through two games last year Cousins had thrown five passes, completed four for two TDs and a passer rating of 127.1. And remember this is when he supposedly was struggling.
Overall, Cousins’ numbers don’t look bad. He has completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempts with a passer rating of 90.2. Those are respectable. But he needs to get it done in pressure situations and by the very numbers he uses to evaluate the performance of the offense it’s just not happening.