Kirk Cousins: Comparable QBs thru 93 Games

image courtesy of Vikings.com

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has played 93 career games since his entry into the NFL in2012. 67 percent of the contests occurred under the banner of the Washington Football Team while the other one-third has been with Minnesota.

Five of the 93 games for Cousins were in a reserve capacity, mainly replacing Robert Griffin III. Cousins did not assume full, unadulterated leadership in Washington until 2015.

The oft-controversial Washington franchise was unusually hesitant in committing to Cousins long-term and ultimately allowed him to enter free agency in 2018.

The Vikings swiftly acquired his services with the New York Jets said to be other strong suitors for the then six-year veteran.

As a starter for both teams, Cousins has accrued a win-loss record of 44-42-1 (.511). The mediocre nature of this record can be reasonably attributed to the putridity of Cousins’ supporting cast in Washington, chiefly on defense – and with Washington’s rushing “attack.”

From 2015 to 2017 (Cousins’ starting tenure in Washington), the team ranked 24th in points allowed, 27th in rushing yards per attempt, and 28th in both total yards allowed and rushing yards gained.

Cousins’ current pace of individual production, though, is impressive and compares admirably to both contemporary and historic peers. The following four quarterbacks are ones that are adequately comparable to Kirk Cousins, through their respective and first 93 games played.

Carson Palmer, first 93 games:

21,733 Passing Yards | 148 Passing TDs | 95 INTs | 86.8 Passer Rating | 62.7 Completion %

Kirk Cousins, first 93 games:

24,107 Passing Yards | 155 Passing TDs | 71 INTs | 96.8 Passer Rating | 66.9 Completion %

In these examples, one must account for the era in which the quarterback played. Carson Palmer began his career in 2004 with the Cincinnati Bengals. That was not too terribly long ago, but even so, the league’s pass-happy nature has increased in the last 16 seasons.

Palmer and Cousins are both proficient throwers of the football. They are also bedfellows as Palmer began his career with a floundering franchise, the Bengals, akin to Cousins in Washington. Palmer later split town for Oakland and laterArizona where his career continued to have highs and lows, at least from a team win-loss standpoint.

There is no statistical parameter in which Palmer outwardly bests Cousins. Accounting for era inflation, the men are comparable in passing yards and touchdowns and then they separate a bit in the interception column. Palmer, however, was a better protectorate of the football via fumbles. Cousins lost 25 fumbles through 93 games, Palmer had 14.

Dan Fouts, first 93 games:

18,607 Passing Yards | 110 Passing TDs | 119 INTs | 75.8 Passer Rating | 57.3 Completion %

Kirk Cousins, first 93 games:

24,107 Passing Yards | 155 Passing TDs | 71 INTs | 96.8 Passer Rating | 66.9 Completion %

The first instinct here is to surmise, “Excuse me? Cousins wildly wins this match-up.”

If one blatantly ignores the eras of football, this is correct. But to do is rather irresponsible. A bare-bones, average season for a quarterback in 1979 (Fouts’ heyday) looks like this: 2,600 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions.

Yes, that is what a serviceable quarterback looked like in 1979. Today, a middle-of-the-road season is as follows: 3,700 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Keep in mind – average does not equate to bad. Instead, it means not-elite and not-horrible.

For this reason, Fouts and Cousins are similarly paired quarterbacks through 93 games. Fouts owned a record four games south of .500 through 93 games whereas Cousins is slightly above .500 thanks to last season’s prosperity with the Vikings.

Matt Ryan, first 93 games:

23,192 Passing Yards | 151 Passing TDs | 76 INTs | 90.6 Passer Rating | 63.6 Completion %

Kirk Cousins, first 93 games:

24,107 Passing Yards | 155 Passing TDs | 71 INTs | 96.8 Passer Rating | 66.9 Completion %

As much as eras were crucial to consider for the first two men, that sentiment can be tossed out of the window for this comparison. This a raw and applicable comparison. The two men began their careers four years apart – Ryan in 2008, Cousins in 2012.

Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins are wickedly cognate through 93 games. The evidence is irrefutable. Cousins boasts about a thousand more passing yards, four more scores, five fewer interceptions, and tops Ryan in both passer rating and completion percentage.

Of note, Matt Ryan was aided by the arrival of wideout Julio Jones in 2011 – a man that has already forging a path to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Cousins has been blessed with talented pass-catchers in DeSean Jackson, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs, but none as acclaimed as Jones.

Also worth noting: Three seasons after Matt Ryan’s 93rd game – he reached a Super Bowl. One that he probably should have won if a colossal collapse did not occur versus New England.

Drew Brees, first 93 games:

21,748 Passing Yards | 138 Passing TDs | 85 INTs | 88.1 Passer Rating | 63.8 Completion %

Kirk Cousins, first 93 games:

24,107 Passing Yards | 155 Passing TDs | 71 INTs | 96.8 Passer Rating | 66.9 Completion %

Drew Brees kicked off his career in San Diego 11 years before Cousins. The Chargers, for better or worse, elected to roll with Philip Rivers over Brees and allowed the Purdue alumnus to walk to New Orleans in 2006. There is a strong parallel here to Cousins and the Washington-Minnesota situation. And, that does not even involve the numbers!

Numbers-wise, these two are eerily analogous. There is a slight era differential; a run-of-the-mill quarterback in 2006 owned this stat line: 3,200 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions.

Again, 2019’s is akin to this: 3,700 passing yards, 25 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Therefore, with inflation, Brees might be allotted a slight statistical edge, but it is not outlandish.

Brees’ 93rd game took place in 2008 with the New Orleans Saints. One season later, Brees and the Saints toppled the Vikings in the NFC Championship en route to a Super Bowl victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts.

Sign Vikings loyalists up for this parallel, eh?

 

Share: