Kirk Cousins Labeled Deep-Ball Savant

NFL's Top QBs after Week 11: PFF, QBR, Passer Rating Formula
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Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins will enter Year Six in Minnesota with offensive continuity via playcalling and the offensive line.

That’s a rarity for Cousins, who hasn’t experienced the same playcaller since Sean McVay with the Washington Commanders seven years ago.

Kirk Cousins Labeled Deep-Ball Savant

And when he takes the field on September 10th, he’ll hope to maintain his status as one of the best deep-ball passers in the business. NFL.com revealed a Next Gen Stat series this week, plopping Cousins as the league’s fifth-best thrower of deep balls in 2022.

Labeled Deep
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Foremost, this is how NFL.com explains its deep-ball tracking:

  • xComp (expected completion percentage): a quarterback’s average “completion probability,” which represents the aggregate level of difficulty of a set of pass attempts.
  • CPOE (completion percentage above expectation): the difference between a quarterback’s actual completion percentage and expected completion percentage, controlling for the level of difficulty of each pass.

Here’s the pecking order last season:

  1. Geno Smith
  2. Tua Tagovailoa
  3. Jalen Hurts
  4. Dak Prescott
  5. Kirk Cousins
  6. Patrick Mahomes
  7. Russell Wilson
  8. Derek Carr
  9. Joe Burrow
  10. Josh Allen
The Vikings 4 Realistic
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NFL.com’s Nick Shook explains Cousins’ inclusion on the 2022 list, “Cousins has long been an underappreciated talent at quarterback among analysts and fans, but the Next Gen Stats have always given this advanced-metrics stud his due. Despite facing pressure on 43.1 percent of his deep attempts in 2022, Cousins racked up yardage and touchdown totals that landed him in the 99 club in terms of passing score, just like Mahomes — and Cousins’ CPOE pushed him past the reigning NFL MVP on this list.”

And the numbers:

  • Deep attempts: 24-of-51, 862 yards, 5:4 TD-INT, 93.4 passer rating
  • Deep comp: 47.1%
  • Deep xComp: 38.6%
  • Deep CPOE: +8.5%
  • PASSING SCORE (on deep attempts): 99

Underappreciated is a kind term to describe Cousins’ ability to fling it deep. Cousins is divisive in the court of public opinion, and one of the go-to criticisms against the 34-year-old is an erroneous designation of ‘dink and dunker’ or ‘Checkdown Charlie.’ Somewhere along the line, to discredit Cousins for unknown reasons, his detractors applied the words to him, even and repeated the characteristics when presented with evidence to the contrary.

The NFL.com statistics and Shook representation are merely the latest debunking of anything dink-and-dunk related to Cousins.

The Pros and Cons of Another Kirk Cousins Extension in 2023
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Since becoming a full-time starter in 2015, Cousins leads the NFL in 40+ yard touchdowns, tallying 34 — another stat that doesn’t jibe with the Checkdown Charlie narrative. Charlies of Checkdown infamy don’t lead the enterprise in 40+ touchdown throws over the span of eight seasons. They just don’t.

Minnesota also added a new weapon for Cousins this offseason, in addition to reigning Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson, with the draft addition of Jordan Addison. In theory, if Addison is game-ready in his rookie season, Cousins’ deep-ball prowess can take off further in 2023.

Cousins also leads the NFL in 4th Quarter passing touchdowns since joining the Vikings in 2018 with 51.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.