Has The “Gruden-Cousins Connection” Really Improved Washington’s Offense?

Early this year, Washington coach Jay Gruden promoted Kirk Cousins as his Starting QB for the 2015 season.  Gruden stated that Cousins gave Washington “the best chance to win” and “It’s Kirk’s team”.  Mike Shanahan even believes that Cousins is a Franchise Quarterback.  12 games later, Washington sits in a three-way tie for 1st Place in the terrible NFC East with a 5-7 Record, and media are starting to question the predictability of Gruden’s offense.

How much has Washington’s offense improved from 2014?  Let’s take a look at the numbers…

*Note: Cousins played 6 games in 2014, 12 in 2015. 2014 Passing Yards Per Game are Cousins, Griffin, and McCoy combined.

2014 2015
Team Points Per Game 18.8 21.4
Rushing Yards Per Game 105.7 94.3
Rushing Yards Per Attempt 4.2 3.7
Passing Yards Per Game 253 239
Turnovers Per Game 1.93 1.66
Cousins Attempts Per Game 34 35.25
Cousins Completion Percentage 61% 68%
Cousins Passing YPA 8.4 7.1
Cousins Interceptions Per Attempt 0.83 1.5
Cousins Completions of 20+ 27 34
Cousins Completions of 40+ 8 6

Though Cousins has cut down his interceptions and has a higher completion percentage in 2015, his Yards Per Attempt has dropped dramatically from the previous year and are below his career average of 7.3. Cousins ranks 22nd in 20+ pass plays & tied for 20th in 40+ pass plays in 12 games this year. In only 6 games in 2014, Cousins had 27 completions of 20+ & 8 completions of 40+.

Washington’s PPG jumping from 18.8 to 21.4 (Still low scoring, ranks 21st), is misleading.  Last year, Washington had no special teams or defensive touchdowns, which makes the 18.8 PPG a true stat of the offense.  This year, Washington has 2 special teams and 1 defensive touchdown, which would make there true PPG 19.6.

The rushing game is a big issue for Washington.  Gruden has almost fazed out Alfred Morris (Washington’s leading rusher for the last 3 years) in favor of rookie Matt Jones.   I could see if Matt Jones was playing like Todd Gurley, then it would be understandable.  Matt Jones is only averaging 3.4 yards per carry (Pretty much the same as Morris, 3.5) and has fumbled 4 four times with all of them being lost. On any other team with his fumble problems, especially as a rookie, Matt Jones’ would benched (see Ameer Abdullah & Melvin Gordon).

Washington’s low offensive output reflects how much Gruden trusts Cousins with his offense.  Whether Gruden wants to admit it or not, he knows his quarterback has limitations.  Washington has several playmakers on offense and their receiving core is one of the best (probably top 5) in the league.  It’s mind-boggling that having Morris, Jackson, Garcon, and Reed, Washington is not one of the most explosive offenses in the league.  If Cousins is suppose to be your guy and you have all of the confidence in the world in him, why hold him back? As long as Gruden and Cousins are together, this offense will stay exactly the same.