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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins needs to improve performance under pressure

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Need to Know: Redskins' Cousins needs to improve performance under pressure

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 13, 15 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 185 days ago. It will be 61 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 2; Preseason opener @ Falcons 29; Final roster cut 52

Cousins needs to improve his passing under pressure

They say that pass defense starts with pass rush. The flip side of that coin also is true; a passing offense starts with pass protection. This was especially true for the 2015 Redskins and is likely to remain vital this coming season.

All quarterbacks are less effective when they have pressure in their faces. In 2015 putting pressure on Kirk Cousins made a huge difference in his effectiveness compared to when he had no pressure.

According to Football Outsiders, the Redskins’ passing offense was the fourth most effective in the NFL when Cousins was able to stand in the pocket unmolested (as calculated by FO’s DVOA metric; see the post for details). But the offensive DVOA dropped from 69.0 percent all the way down to minus-110 percent when he was under pressure. That drop of 179 percentage points was the second biggest among all quarterbacks who dropped back to pass at least 200 times last year. Brian Hoyer of the Texans had the biggest drop, 190 percentage points.

Fortunately for Cousins and the Redskins the quarterback wasn’t under pressure very often compared to the rest of the league. The pressure rate was 20.5 percent; only four quarterbacks faced pressure less often. As a result of the protection and his ability to get the ball out quickly Cousins was able to enjoy a very productive first season as a starter.

But there were still 119 pass plays out of 569 total (21 percent) where Cousins was under pressure and performing at a severe disadvantage. One of the knocks on Cousins has been his inability to make plays off schedule, when things break down. This stat reflects that to an extent, although it should be noted that both Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, two of the games most noted improvisers, also ranked in the bottom half of passing under pressure compared to not being under pressure. Still, it’s something that Cousins to work on.

The FO article accompanying the stats doesn’t go into every QB in detail but they do a paragraph on Cousins:
Opposing teams only managed to get pressure on Cousins 20.5 percent of the time, the fifth-lowest rate in football, which certainly helped him put up a career year. Washington's weak schedule (25th-ranked by DVOA) also played a part in his drastic improvement, so it will be interesting to see whether Cousins can keep up his level of play against tougher competition.
That last sentence is particularly interesting and perhaps why the Redskins seem to be willing to gather another year’s worth of evidence before they decide how much they are willing to pay him on a long-term contract.

The more Cousins can close the gap between how he performs with and without pressure the better off he and the Redskins will be.

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Need to Know: Sunday six pack—Cousins' next step and a positive step for Doctson

Need to Know: Sunday six pack—Cousins' next step and a positive step for Doctson

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 26, 11 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 3
—NFL Combine (3/2) 4
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 50
—NFL Draft (4/27) 60
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 196

Sunday six pack

1. JP and I looked at the question of whether Kirk Cousins would “take the next step”. We interpreted the question differently.

Here’s some of what JP had to say:

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

And part of my answer:

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

2. Apprently, Josh Doctson is running and cutting. That’s great but it’s a long way from being productive on the field in the fall. We’ll see how this turns out.

3. The combine is five days away and as of now no Redskins officials are scheduled to speak to the media in Indianapolis. They are one of three teams, along with the Patriots and Saints, no having a coach or GM-type take the podium. Those fans who have wanted the Redskins to be more like the Patriots are getting their wish. Well, except for all those Super Bowl trophies, anyway.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

4. I’m not sure what the chances of Cousins getting traded to the 49ers are but they are monitoring the possibility in San Francisco.

Looking at the list of trades in my friend Matt Maiocco’s post, I think if Cousins is dealt most Redskins fans would like to see something like the Palmer or Cutler trades. Reality is probably closer to the Alex Smith trade.

5. San Francisco signed career mediocrity DT Earl Mitchell, who had been released by the Dolphins.

The deal will pay him $5.5 million in the first year. Mitchell played in nine games last year, starting five. He hasn’t had a sack since 2014 and he has only 5.5 in his seven-year career. This is of interest here because it isn’t good news for a team that will be looking for defensive linemen in free agency. If players without sacks over the last two seasons can get that kind of money, imagine what productive D-linemen will get paid.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

6. Speaking of linemen who are going to get paid by somebody, Chris Baker retweeted this video of his Week 3 sack of Eli Manning.

The tweeter here was correct; Eli was off the rest of the game as I noted a few days later. Baker’s sack was a huge factor in the Redskins’ win.

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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OLB Junior Galette signs one-year deal with Redskins

OLB Junior Galette signs one-year deal with Redskins

The Redskins and outside linebacker Junior Galette have come to a contract agreement. But they can’t really count on him to be on the field.

According to Adam Caplan of ESPN Galette has signed a one-year with Washington with a base salary of $775,000 and a workout bonus of $25,000. 

Galette has been under contract to the Redskins for the last two seasons but he has yet to see the field due to suffering a torn Achilles tendon prior to the start of each season. 

Galette was not a pending free agent despite having signed a one-year deal last spring because he spent the season on the non-football (NFI) list. He suffered his second torn Achilles a few days before training camp while working out on his own. As unfair as it may seem, an injury suffered while working out off of team property is considered a non-football injury. A player on NFI does not get paid and if he misses the whole year as Galette did his contract rolls over to the next season.

Related: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Cousins talk continues

Galette originally signed with the team early in training camp in 2015. Even though he racked up a combined 22 sacks in 2013-2014 the Saints released him due to some off-field issues, including a domestic abuse case.

Galette needed to rehab an injury and get into football shape so he didn’t play early in the preseason. Days before he was to make his preseason debut he suffered a torn left Achilles in practice. He spent the year on injured reserve.

He rehabbed the injury, signed another one-year deal with the Redskins, and then just a few days before it was time to report to training camp he tore his right Achilles, the other one, while working out, putting him out for the season again.

Galette’s addition is a real-life instance the adage that you can’t have too much pass rush. If he gets on the field and can stay there, great, that’s one more pass rusher. Figuring out where to play him, Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, and Trent Murphy will be a problem that new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will be happy to handle. And if the injury bug bites again they still have some potent rushers and it would behoove them to add even more.

There are reasons to believe that Galette can be effective when he returns. The following is from former NFL team physician Dr. David Chao:

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.