2017 Grade: .515

2017 3rd Down: .403

Week 1 vs. Philadelphia: An all-around awful day for the future $30 million man, Cousins was as sloppy as ever. His mechanics were a mess, his decision making was poor, the chemistry with his new receivers was completely out of sync and his accuracy was atrocious. The bad day was highlighted by a back-breaking interception. Throwing off his back foot, Cousins missed an open receiver that would’ve set up a first and goal, in the fourth quarter, trailing only by two.

Week 2 at Los Angeles Rams: Kirk Cousins’ services were hardly needed Sunday in Los Angeles – until they were. His touchdown pass, on a masterfully designed play, on 3rd and 4, was the second 3rd down conversion of the drive. That was the only play where he registered a score other than -1, 0, or 1. The Washington ground game took the Rams to task, and Cousins managed the game admirably.

Week 3 vs. Oakland: This performance was vintage Kirk Cousins. Accurate down the seam, to the boundary, in control of the game situations, no mistakes, and terrific in the face of pressure. His touchdown pass to Vernon Davis (GIF below) had to be perfect, and it was. When it’s going right for Cousins, in this Jay Gruden scheme, it’s a thing of beauty.

Week 4 at Kansas City: Washington will be insane to let Cousins walk. His cerebral brand of football, accuracy and high-football acumen were all on display in this game. In the GIF, he manipulates the single-high safety, and puts an absolute dime on Vernon Davis. On what would’ve been the game winning drive, he had three impressive scrambles, and a perfect touchdown pass that slipped through the fingers of Josh Doctson.

Week 6 vs. San Francisco: Cousins’ accuracy and post-snap manipulation are his strong suits. The former wasn’t his best in this game, but the ladder led to a perfect touchdown strike for Washington’s first touchdown of the game. A couple of big scramble plays helped resurrect Cousins score, which suffered from a couple of high or wide throws.

2016: Conservative Execution

There are more than a handful of organizations in the NFL that go years, or even decades, without finding a quarterback like Kirk Cousins. So the lunacy of the contract situation makes me resent the Redskins in a way. Cousins falls into a lot of cliché categories – most notably, game-manager. Cousins offers plenty of traits that make him far more than a guy that just shows up and does what he’s told.

While Cousins is a bit of a system-quarterback and doesn’t stray from the script too often, he’s a fiery-leader that throws with exceptional anticipation and has all the pitches in his tool-bag. His early, arching throws to the perimeter on two-man route combinations is enough to make this evaluator salivate. Although he needs more than a phone-booth to work in and needs to generate the delivery early, he can reach back and throw the heater.

Washington picks up intermediate chunks on digs and slants like it’s seven-on-seven pitch and catch and attacks the field vertically as well as any team – due in large part to Cousins’ big arm.

Cousins is capable of beating teams from outside the pocket and is rather savvy when it comes to surveying the field whilst on the move. He does, however, throw the ball away too much when his initial read isn’t readily open.

Cousins isn’t difficult to get to the ground for pass-rushers and he will make the egregious mistake here and there, particularly early in 2016. As the year went on, his mechanics were polished up and he was spinning the ball accurately all over the field. He struggled with accuracy early but it says something about his work-ethic that he corrected it.

Cousins does have a tendency to lock onto reads, except when eye-manipulation is built into the read. It all looks incredibly clean when it goes smoothly, but the breakdowns are the reason he leads the league in throw-aways.

His ability to stare down the gun-barrel and deliver a strike just a moment before taking a shot is admirable. However, when teams disguise coverages and throw something exotic at him, some of his best traits turn into his worst – and I’d imagine those five or six awful picks he throws every year are what stands out in the eyes of the fans in D.C.

Perhaps the lack of off-script, ad-libbing is why the Redskins are hesitant to pay him. Perhaps the team believes they can bring in anyone to run Jay Gruden’s wide-open attack – so it would seem fitting for Cousins to leave following this season and find out how Washington REALLY feels about Colt McCoy.

Prior to the final three games, Cousins was playing at a near-elite level. He faltered down the stretch in a fashion that is a microcosm of his game – two steps forward, one step back. Regardless, Cousins has proven he can excel in this scheme and deserves a long-term contract.

Stat Sheet

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