Skip to content

Cousins will be tested in latter part of Redskins’ 2016 schedule

Apr 20, 2016, 12:18 PM EDT

Cousins-passing-vs-Jets-2

Kirk Cousins got off to a shaky start in 2015. After six games he was struggling with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. In the last two games during that stretch, against the Falcons and Jets, interceptions had been very costly.

He may not have been on the verge of being benched after those losses in Atlanta and the Meadowlands but if he had continued on that course he would not have established himself as the Redskins’ long-term starter. But his performance picked up after the Redskins went down 24-0 against the Bucs and the rest is history.

Cousins hasn’t necessarily locked up the job for the long term yet. The team wants to see more if they are going to give him a big-money deal. If he and the team are going to come to an agreement on a multiyear contract it would help if he had a solid 2016 season.

He should be better in the earlier part of the season for a couple of reasons. For one thing he will spend all of OTAs and all of training camp as the No. 1 quarterback, working with the first team offense. He didn’t get regular work with the starters until after the second preseason game last year.

And Cousins will be facing what appears to be a slightly softer slate of pass defenses in the first part of this year as opposed to last year. Here is the comparison using Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA metric (note that when it comes to defensive DVOA lower and negative numbers are better):

source:

A caveat before we dive into this. Pass defenses do change from year to year. The three defensive free agents the Giants signed could greatly improve their pass defense. Or, as we saw with the Redskins often over the years, the free agents could take some time to fit in with the defense (or they may never fit in at all).

With that in mind, it does look like Cousins will be facing a slightly softer slate of pass defenses in September and October. Last year there were two defensives that finished with negative numbers last year; this year there are none. None of the defenses in the first six games this year were in the top 10 last year and only two, the Eagles and Steelers, were even in the top half and they were just barely there.

It will be good for Cousins if he can get off to a strong start but playing well against soft defenses is not really what the Redskins and many fans want to see. They want Cousins to be run through the gauntlet of some tough pass defenses to see what he is really made of. While the Redskins don’t face the Legion of Boom or any other similar “shutdown” units, the going does get significantly tougher from Week 7 on:

source:

Again, this is based on last year and things will not be static. But it gives you a general idea that the going is likely to be tougher for Cousins in the second part of the season. Four of the opponents were in negative numbers in pass defense DVOA and six of them were in the top half of the NFL.

So if Cousins gets off to a sizzling start in 2016, don’t be surprised. If he continues that into the second part of the season then it will be time to be impressed.

  1. 226thebeatdontstop - Apr 20, 2016 at 12:40 PM

    Cousins will be tested game one on Monday Night Football against the Steelers

    • shermanp79 - Apr 20, 2016 at 1:10 PM

      Steelers have a horrible defense

    • fwhalstead1 - Apr 20, 2016 at 8:39 PM

      They’ll all be tested every single week….this is a rebuilding team in year 2 of said rebuild. Having said that the Skins have just as much a chance as anyone in the NFC East to make the playoffs again. The whole vibe is different around this team.The offseason is no longer the story anymore. They don’t care about winning the offseason and instead appear to be more concerned about winning the draft. It’s a big breath of fresh air actually but this team still has 2 years to go to be a consistent winner and a potential playoff team year in and year out. #staythecourse #drownoutthenoise #draft

  2. renhoekk2 - Apr 20, 2016 at 2:23 PM

    Eagles just traded 5 picks to move up to No. 2 this year.

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 20, 2016 at 3:33 PM

      To pick the QB prospect the Rams don’t want.

      I think the Eagles just committed themselves to the cellar for the next few years.
      ~

      • bangkokben - Apr 20, 2016 at 4:30 PM

        Didn’t they? I’ve got to think they’re going to take Tunsil despite what’s been said. Who fully guarantees $12 million to a 3rd string QB, $22 million to a 2nd string QB, and $26.5 million to a rookie quarterback in the same year? The Eagles that’s who.

        Talk about re-build. All the way down to and including the foundation. Will their fans be patient? Who cares? But going from a likely division title with a home victory against the Redskins to what looks like a sub five win season has got to be hard.

        • John - Apr 20, 2016 at 9:55 PM

          They’ll take Wentz. Sit him behind Bradford this year, then play him next year if he’s ready. At that point, they dump Bradford and you play Went over Daniel.

        • bangkokben - Apr 21, 2016 at 9:01 AM

          That makes perfect sense except for trading next year’s 1st to Cleveland. So they hope to win 6-7 games with Bradford so they only give up the a top 15 pick instead of a top five had Wentz had to play all 16?

      • fwhalstead1 - Apr 20, 2016 at 8:41 PM

        I think they’ll take the top RB in the draft….

      • John - Apr 20, 2016 at 10:00 PM

        It was either move up to #2 or let Dallas take Wentz at #4. The Eagles are very high on Wentz. Also they were not high on Lynch.

        • skinsgame - Apr 21, 2016 at 7:22 AM

          Says who? You part of the Eagles inner circle?

  3. bangkokben - Apr 20, 2016 at 5:22 PM

    Rich, thanks for the analysis. This is exactly the stuff I like to discuss — even if everyone else is focused on the draft.

    The stat that jumps out at me is the defenses QB rating. While this is no longer the best indicator for how a QB preforms, over a season it appears to be a good indicator of how tough a team’s defense is on a QB. Here are the ratings and ranks for each team on the schedule.

    PIT 90.9 (17)
    DAL 94.2 (20)
    NYG 95.9 (21)
    CLE 101.8 (30)
    BAL 99.6 (27)
    PHI 92.8 (18)
    DET 100.9 (28)
    CIN 78.9 (5th)
    MIN 90.0 (15)
    GB 80.1 (7th)
    DAL 94.2 (20)
    ARI 80.9 (8th)
    PHI 92.8 (18)
    CAR 73.5 (1st)
    CHI 99.3 (26)
    NYG 95.9 (21)
    AVG 91.4 (17.6)

    3/4 of the opponents defense had a QB rating against them of 90.0 or better. Of course, just like Rich pointed out, things change, but that is the same as last year (Panthers, Jets, Falcons, Patriots — *Packers). Maybe the schedule isn’t THAT hard.

    • Rich Tandler - Apr 20, 2016 at 7:38 PM

      I kind of like opp. QB rating, can be useful for quick analysis. But DVOA takes the strength of opposition into account, among other things, so I think it’s a better gauge.

      • bangkokben - Apr 20, 2016 at 8:21 PM

        Agreed. Football Outsiders does good work and factoring strength of opposition among other things — like the success rate per play — helps with accuracy and incidentally helped the division with their rankings. What I like most about QBR is that when I see the number, I instantly know whether that defense is horrible, good, or so-so against the pass. With DVOA, it understanding requires a bit more effort.

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Apr 20, 2016 at 7:25 PM

    Keim put up a post about Vernon Butler. V.B. is my current (mock) pick for us at 21. (Sorry, bangkokben, I just can’t say no to mocks!)

    http://espn.go.com/blog/washington-redskins/post/_/id/24588/vernon-butlers-versatility-bull-rush-could-help-redskins

    Why he does: Like other players, his versatility will help. Butler has excellent size, something Scot McCloughan prizes on both sides of the line. And Butler can play anywhere — he lined up at either tackle spot and also over the center in pass-rush situations. He would become an instant part of the rotation and, based on what has been written and said about his character, would fit into the culture they’re trying to build.
    =======
    ~

    • James McFullan - Apr 20, 2016 at 7:42 PM

      He may actually fall to 53 so I’d take him there, but I’ll trust whatever Scott McCloughan does in the draft.

    • bangkokben - Apr 20, 2016 at 8:36 PM

      No probs. ‘Tis the season. My big issue with mocks is what James above did. This idea that any of us knows where Butler will fall. To James credit he puts a qualifier there at the end. We all know what the pundits think of the players but we have no idea how the 32 teams have their boards set up. If the ‘skins like him, great!

  5. fwhalstead1 - Apr 20, 2016 at 8:40 PM

    They’ll all be tested every single week….this is a rebuilding team in year 2 of said rebuild. Having said that the Skins have just as much a chance as anyone in the NFC East to make the playoffs again. The whole vibe is different around this team.The offseason is no longer the story anymore. They don’t care about winning the offseason and instead appear to be more concerned about winning the draft. It’s a big breath of fresh air actually but this team still has 2 years to go to be a consistent winner and a potential playoff team year in and year out. #staythecourse #drownoutthenoise #draft

RealRedskins.com Archives

Follow Us On Twitter