Cousins continues to be a confounding player. Individually his stats are really fine and have been really fine. And every once in a while he does something that appears to be so great an impact as you can point to him being why we won a game. And every once in a while he does something that appears to be so great an impact as to why we lost the game. And most of the time he's just on the field playing QB. Generally fine. But generally never better than the opposition's QB.
Just look at this year.
Eagles visit. Wentz outplayed Cousins and this was the one game this year Cousins lost on his own. Missed passes. Ugly play. Mistakes.
One game I'd rather have the other team's QB.
We go to the Rams. Goff threw for more yards on fewer attempts and completions. But also had an interception. Generally you'd say neither QB played better than the other in this game relative to the defenses they played against, but give a SLIGHT edge to Goff in game and generally if you could have either, right now, who would you prefer?
Two games I'd rather have the other team's QB.
Raiders visit. Our high water mark as a team for sure. Cousins clearly outplayed Carr. One can fairly debate if they'd rather have Carr to Cousins in a straight up pick. The general consensus is probably on Carr's side. But it's probably close.
One game I'd rather have had our QB based on performance on the field in that game.
We go to the Chiefs.
Smith outplayed Cousins in a direct comparison. We were gritty and could have won. But on the whole Smith was better that day. People would prefer Cousins in a straight pick, but would probably prefer Smith for $15 million than Cousins for $30.
Three games I'd rather have the other team's QB.
Niners. Cousins gets the nod though we did make Beathard look way too good. This is one of Kirk's better games of the year.
Two games I'd rather have had our QB.
We visit the Eagles. Cousins played really well. Over 300 yards. Three TDs. 30 of 40 passing. Wentz had 4 TDs and only 268 yards, but, 13 fewer completions for just 35 fewer yards. Though on the field this is a close one, because they won, their QB had more TDs and their offense was FAR more explosive, you nod with Wentz.
Four games I'd rather have the other team's QB.
Cowboys visit. Kirk outplays Dak insanely, made more clear by the superior Cowboys running game. Some would argue they'd take Dak over Kirk generally, but in this game it was Kirk's day...in a bad loss.
Three games I'd rather have had our QB.
Seattle time. Kirk's KEY plays win this game. His throws in pressure against odds in a tough environment are a high water mark for him as far as individual influence on a game. Yet he was the second best QB on the day. Wilson was far more dangerous in every way. And generally you'd rather have him to Kirk.
Five games I'd rather have had their QB.
Vikings. This is really the start of the downfall for the season. They out manned us and pushed us around. Kirk played really well against a good defense generally putting up solid numbers. But as is the case with Kirk, numbers rarely translate into a difference and while NO ONE would pick Keenum over Kirk Keenum had a superior game and greater impact on the outcome in this one. And, again, for $15 million, I'd be fine with Keenum over a $35 million Cousins.
Six games I'd rather have had their QB.
Demoralizing Saints loss. Cousins again plays GREAT. Over 300 yards. 3 TDs. Solid against a solid pass defense. Brees just played a hair better on the whole because when it mattered he didn't miss. Had OT not happened this would have gone a different way though. And, of course, you'd STILL take Brees over Cousins to lead your team generally.
Seven games I'd rather have had their QB.
Boring Giants game. Cousins gets the nod in game and probably future worth. But that is not normal in games against the Giants :).
Four games I'd rather have had our QB.
Visiting Dallas now. Dak gets the edge in on field performance. Still a debate as to whether he's better for a team long term or not.
Eight games I'd rather have had their QB.
Chargers. Wow. Rivers looked every bit the genius. Cousins did not play well. We're tanking. It's not all on Cousins. But Rivers killed him and probably would be considered as good a leader for a few years as Cousins long term.
Nine games I'd rather have had their QB.
Generally what I am struck by is on the field Kirk is rarely the best player at his position compared to other top QBs. Do the same thing for the Pats. Smith outplayed Brady in game one, two more like that? Ben had a dog of a game with five interceptions, but has three 500 yard games. Remember how he torched us a year ago? Kirk just never seems the reason, that often, his team wins. He's a fine player. Productive.
And worth every penny of less than $20 million on a yearly basis. He doesn't provide enough benefit to those around him to pay him more and lose players around him. That Green Bay game a year ago was him being awesome. But there are just not enough of those where he's that guy for THAT price. Now, if we assume we go 5-11 or 6-10 we can achieve that with anyone at QB. We don't need a Top 5 paid player to hit that mark, UNLESS that player IS the sole reason you even hit that many wins.
If we hit 7-9, like the Saints for several years, you still don't look at our team and say we are 7-9 BECAUSE we have Cousins while all else is horrific. The Saints hit 7-9 BECAUSE Brees was still so good in spite of everything else being atrocious.
I really actually like and respect Cousins. I think he's a hell of a productive, fine player. He's just NOT a guy you can sink that much into as he won't lift your team when other things suck. We are beaten up like crazy. Worn out and down. Cousins isn't making anyone better and it appears his play is bolstered remarkably by the play around him. Which is fine, but means sink money in to that.
We can achieve 6-10 with Keenum at QB. Or Colt. We don't need a $35 million guy.
I know, as well, that Kirk doesn't play the opposing team's other QB. He plays their defense and they play ours. So our continued inconsistency on defense seems to make everyone we play have great games, save one or two we jump up and "surprise" by killing someone (see Derek Carr). The point remains if you go through his career you generally always would take the other team's guy over ours. That one game I'd have taken Kirk over Rodgers is so outside the norm as to be something you almost have to ignore, as there are at least as many games Keenum is better than Cousins to be worrisome.
I'm now on board with you have to let him go, build more depth and find another QB.
And when we keep him, as we will, I'll root for him to be great still :).