Cousins to Browns (02/04/14)

By John Ewing
Lost in the madness of Super Bowl Sunday was a report out of Washington that Kirk Cousins was open to being traded. Possible landing spot – Cleveland, what would a season in a Browns uniform look like?

Kirk Cousins, the former 4th round pick, looked like a star his rookie season. In three games, Cousins completed 68.8% of his passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns. Of course that was a small sample size. Cousins’ value took a hit this season after a five game stretch that saw the second-year quarterback complete just 52.3% of his passes for four touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Regardless of his exact value, the Redskins expect to find a trade partner with one of the many teams that need a starting quarterback. A possible landing spot might be the Cleveland Browns who hired Kyle Shanahan as their new offensive coordinator. Shanahan has spent the last two years working with Cousins in Washington.
Cleveland finished a disappointing 4-12 this season, partially due to some uninspiring play at quarterback. The Browns deployed a three-headed juggernaut of Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer. This trio combined to complete 55.6% of their passes for 4,361 yards, 25 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Remember 4,000 yards isn’t what it used to be and the Cleveland quarterbacks got a breakout season from superstar receiver Josh Gordon.
Had Cousins been a Brown all last year what kind of numbers would he have posted? We simulated the Cleveland Browns’ 2013 season 50,000 times to see if Cousins would be an upgrade at quarterback.

Player Attempts Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions
Kirk Cousins 577.3 335.8 3,830.2 25.2 19.3
At first glance it doesn’t appear that Cousins would be much of an upgrade. With a projected touchdown/interception ratio in line with what last year’s group of quarterbacks accomplished and a lower yardage total one could make a case against the Browns acquiring Cousins.
However, a closer look shows a more consistent quarterback. Cousins projected completion percentage of 58.2% isn’t great in the pass happy NFL but it would be an improvement over Cleveland’s team average of 55.6%. Campbell, Weeden, and Hoyer also attempted 103 more passes accounting for the difference in yardage total (symptom of playing from behind in most games). On a per attempt basis, Cousins 6.63 yards-per-attempt is better than the Browns trio’s of 6.42.

With a more efficient quarterback, like Cousins, we project that Cleveland would have finished with a record of 8.6 wins, 7.4 losses. A legitimate starting quarterback puts the Browns in contention for the playoffs.
Cousins is a solid prospect with potential and a team, perhaps Cleveland, will likely make the investment to determine if he is a starting quarterback in the NFL.