Both Cousins and Smith have had their share of frustration and naysayers. Some was built on team brass some was from their drafting spot.
But this offseason – there were some pretty significant changes that rippled through the NFL
. One of them was 29 year old Kirk Cousins going to Minnesota and Alex Smith moving on to Washington to replace Cousins as their QB. Washington replaced a 4300 YD/yr QB with a QB who has thrown for over 4000 or more yards 1 time in his career, but only has thrown 20 picks in the last 3 seasons. Minnesota picked up a QB who has a strong arm and pinpoint accuracy with the ability to put TDs in the endzone, with an average of 27/season since 2015 – something they have needed desperately.
The story for these tams, this year, is the changing of the quarterbacks of each Minnesota and Washington. Smith’s completion percentage is at 62.4% over his career while Cousins has been at 65.5%. But keep in mind, Smith threw 225 fewer passes than Cousins over the last 3 seasons, he has never been a high volume passer. When Smith was drafted #1 overall in 2005 – he was the guy the Niners thought was going to be the man. After his rookie season, with 1 TD and 11 picks, it didn’t look like it was turning out that way. Then 2 years later, Alex was still throwing for just 131 YDs/game. But his winning ways is what made him a good QB, no one can say Smith isn’t or hasn’t been a winner. With a career 59% win pct as QB.
Smith has always been able to bounce back play to play, with cool confidence and smarts. He has thrown 4613 pass attempts in his career – just 29 attempts/game – as he has never been the focal point of an offense, with just 2 seasons throwing more than 500 attempts. In 2011 they were led by 1200 YD rusher, Frank Gore and in his time in KC, he was a vital piece to a running minded team again. Smith also keeps interceptions at a minimum, he always has, with just a career 2.1% interception percentage to 4.0% of his passes being completed for TDs. He does not seem to get rattled when things break down.
Smith put up 26 TDs, compared to just 5 interceptions while leading a top ranking offense that sat in 6th in scoring at 25.9 ppg. This was after he threw just 15 TDs and 8 picks while bumbling along with the league’s 13th scoring offense in 2016. I think that the Redskins felt it was time to bring in a fresh QB and let him lead the team, I don’t know if Washington felt that Cousins regressed last year or because he hit a wall for them, or if he just wasn’t a good fit with their OC. Alex Smith has had great success as a starting QB as he has been to the playoffs 5 times in 12 seasons playing. The Washington franchise that has only made the playoffs 4 times since 2000, and 3 of those 4 times, they lost in the wild card game.
Both Smith and Cousins are very good football players, but they are 2 very different types of football players. Smith is a smart, methodical QB. Kirk is more of a physical quarterback that is more reactionary. It is not surprising what the Vikings and their 10th ranked offense in 2017 offense are doing. Minnesota was expected to have a good, balanced defense which they did, and the surprise that Keenum brought them last year was nothing short of inspirational. But it seems that Case wasn’t going to live up to the hype on an individual and seasonal basis, so he was released and Kirk Cousins stepped in. Would the Vikings be any better with career backup journeyman Case Keenum over a consistent TD producing Cousins?
Kirk has been a producer on offense, as his 99 career TDs and 16206 passing YDs verifies, and that makes him better than Keenum.
Cousins will likely turn the ball over more, which goes against any teams offensive philosophy, but he will also be sending the ball downfield much more than Keenum did, so by ratio and estimates, it is bound to happen, but he will also likely throw more TDs than Keenum as well. Something the Vikes have struggled with having as a QB since Brett Favre. Cousins has had more recent success than any QB in Washington’s recent history and it’s not even close. Rather than slam Kirk for getting sacked or not always winning the 45-40 games, they should have appreciated that he helped get the Skins some big wins there and has had some amazing years in Washington.
Truly, at the end of the day, you ask yourself if you were building the team, which one would you want? 260 YDs/game Kirk Cousins or 220 YDs/game Alex Smith? 27 TDs or 20 TDs thrown? The value of Kirk Cousins to Minnesota is far larger than the value of Smith being added to Washington. That isn’t opinion. That is going to be a fact. A large part of the Vikes success will also come from the way Cousins runs a no huddle offense as well, he is very good at calling the right plays.
Alex Smith isn’t a system quarterback, and if you add him to just about any team in the NFL, that team will be a playoff contender, due to his smarts and field vision, but, what weapons does he have? Jamison Crowder, and a 24th ranked running game? And worse yet, a 27th ranked defense, that gives up massive points frequently, where his arm is going to be used, probably more than ever.
Kirk Cousins is gaining weapons, and lots of them. Stefon Diggs is a shifty and skilled WR with great ability to get open. Adam Thielen hauled in 91 catches last season, with a 14.0 YPC. Getting 4.8 YDs/carry, RB Dalvin Cook back is the best RB Kirk Cousins has had in his backfield since Alfred Morris back in 2014.
Cousins has done far more with less, getting 5-9 Jamison Crowder 747 YDs/season, and 34 year old TE Vernon Davis his biggest YPC season since 2013. Minnesota is the far better team, and adding him is going to be the better move. Numbers don’t lie. Kirk is the reason the Vikings fans are super excited about this season – and they have a new focus on offense again. That’s a marked upgrade to last year’s offense. Cousins has his team now, Minnesota has their QB, and now have an actual offensive minded staff to get it done.
Kirk Cousins is set for a giant step forward because he is going to a team that believes in him just like people believe in 10StarPicks.com for their daily winners.