Quarterback play is often one of the hardest positions to evaluate in the NFL during the game. The broadcast angle is shown from the viewpoint of the press box. Because of this, there is often no way to see what the quarterback is seeing.
This season, I’ll be watching the coaches’ tape, which shows all 22 players on the field, and analyzing each one of Kirk Cousins dropbacks. I will be charting each pass as accurate or inaccurate, keeping track of the depth of throws, yards after the catch gained by Cousins’ receivers, and perhaps most importantly, “turnover-worthy” passes. Turnover worthy passes are passes that could have been intercepted by the defender. These passes are important to track because quarterbacks can often have lucky streaks where defenders drop interceptions. This allows the offense to keep the ball and possibly score points. If you watched the Packers – Bears game on Sunday, there was a perfect example of this. Aaron Rodgers threw a pass that hit a Bears’ defender in the hands. The defender dropped it, and Randall Cobb‘s 70-yard touchdown won the Packers the game a few plays later.
By tracking passes such as these, in addition to accuracy percentages and the other film breakdowns, it will better determine how Cousins is playing at the most important position in the NFL.
Box Score Statistics
In week one, Cousins completed 20 of his 36 pass attempts for 244 yards and 2 touchdowns. He threw no interceptions and was sacked only twice. He also ran four times for 26 yards. Cousins was responsible for 13 first downs, including converting seven of 15 third downs through the air. Overall, the box score indicates Cousins had a fine day, completing 55 percent of his passes, limiting negative plays, and averaging 6.8 yards per attempt.
Coaches’ Film Breakdown
The film breakdown reveals a more uneven performance from Cousins. Cousins started off hot, as he was accurate on 14 of his 18 attempts in the first half, gaining 165 yards. He threw one touchdown on a beautifully placed pass to Stefon Diggs that went right over the defender’s head. Cousins also converted ten first downs and did not throw any “turnover-worthy” passes. He only had one sack, which was not his fault, and scrambled three times for another 22 yards on the ground. This hot start helped to give the Vikings a 10-3 lead at the half.
In the second half, it looked as if Cousins would stay hot. He was accurate on seven of his first nine passes, gaining 79 yards and three first downs. He also had another perfectly placed ball to Kyle Rudolph for his second touchdown of the game. This gave the Vikings a 24-6 lead, and with the Vikings defense being the dominating force that it is, the game seemed over.
It was at this point that Cousins began to struggle. After being accurate on 21 of his first 27 attempts for two touchdowns and having no turnover-worthy throws in the first three quarters, Cousins imploded in the fourth quarter. He wasn’t accurate on any of his five pass attempts, and threw four turnover-worthy passes, including a potential pick six on a curl route intended for Diggs. Perhaps more concerning is that Cousins was pressured on only one of these four attempts. Though ultimately none of these passes were intercepted, Cousins and the Vikings shouldn’t rely on that going forward.
Week 1 Film Breakdown Statistics
|Accuracy %||66%||Playaction %||22%|
|Turnover-Worthy Throws||4||First Downs||13|
|Air Yards||91||Target Leader||Thielen – 12|
|Yards After Catch||153||3rd Down Conversion %||47%|
On the day, Cousins was accurate on 21 of 32 attempts for an accuracy percentage of 66%. He had two touchdowns, 13 first downs, and four turnover-worthy throws. The four-turnover worthy throws are concerning, especially given the lack of pressure and the Vikings having a lead. However, Cousins made a few very impressive plays as well. Going forward, the hope is that as Cousins continues to build chemistry with his impressive weapons, he will cut down on the turnover-worthy throws. If he can, the Vikings will have an efficient and explosive offense to pair with their fearsome defense. A combination that would make them the likely Super Bowl favorite.
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