Why Kirk Cousins is the sixth-best quarterback in the NFL

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins /

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback was the sixth-best passer in 2019.

For Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and every other signal-caller around the NFL, passer rating does not tell the whole story. QBR and Pro Football Focus grades don’t tell the whole story either.

A simple method to quiet any reservations about any of these three rating tools has been contrived and that is to combine them.

In this metric, QBR (50 percent), passer rating (25 percent), and PFF grade (25 percent) are weighted and combined to assign a quarterback a new score.

The score is then incentivized by a number of different possibilities including a 15 percent increase for winning the Super Bowl, a 10 percent increase for being on the Super Bowl runner-up, a 7.5 percent increase for a conference championship appearance, a five percent increase for divisional round appearance,  a two percent increase for a wild-card appearance, and nothing for missing the playoffs altogether.

Finally, quarterbacks who started fewer than 13 regular seasons games are adjusted downward by a decrease of 10 percent as lack of on-the-field presence (injury or coach preference) can be perceived as a hindrance to team success. Or at the very least, for example, a passer who plays in 10 contests does not contribute to his team to the degree of volume that a quarterback who plays in all 16 games would.

34 NFL signal-callers qualified for this benchmark in 2019. Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes ranks first and Washington Redskins passer Dwayne Haskins ranks last.

Cousins ended up at sixth on the ranking. For the Vikings quarterback, his ranking consisted of a 58.4 QBR (13th in NFL), a 107.4 passer rating (fourth), and an 84.3 PFF Grade (sixth). His weighted score (along with Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, and Deshaun Watson) was adjusted by a five percent increase for having the divisional round as his final playoff end-destination in 2019.

The Minnesota Vikings quarterback had a score of 80.98. How did the rest of the rankings look?

  1. Patrick Mahomes (98.32)
  2. Lamar Jackson (96.60)
  3. Russell Wilson (88.48)
  4. Deshaun Watson (83.05)
  5. Jimmy Garoppolo (81.895)
  6. Kirk Cousins (80.98)
  7. Ryan Tannehill (80.88)
  8. Drew Brees (80.53)
  9. Dak Prescott (80.05)
  10. Derek Carr (76.27)
  11. Aaron Rodgers (74.55)
  12. Carson Wentz (74.02)
  13. Matthew Stafford (73.75)
  14. Ryan Fitzpatrick (73.75)
  15. Matt Ryan (70.77)
  16. Tom Brady (70.32)
  17. Kyler Murray (65.75)
  18. Daniel Jones (65.15)
  19. Jamies Winston (65.02)
  20. Philip Rivers (65.00)
  21. Baker Mayfield (64.27)
  22. Jared Goff (63.97)
  23. Josh Allen (62.24)
  24. Teddy Bridgewater (61.94)
  25. Jacoby Brissett (61.85)
  26. Gardner Minshew (61.67)
  27. Sam Darnold (58.67)
  28. Mitchell Trubisky (56.57)
  29. Joe Flacco (56.20)
  30. Andy Dalton (56.20)
  31. Case Keenum (52.49)
  32. Kyle Allen (50.62)
  33. Mason Rudolph (45.92)
  34. Dwayne Haskins (44.21)

Notice that QBR is factored in at the highest rate of the calculation. This occurs because of the comprehensive nature of the QBR metric. It can be best explained here.

QBR is Cousins’ lowest metric of the three and this is predominantly due to his minimal rushing yard contribution and at-times, his questionable pocket presence when under duress.

Some other mentionable disclaimers of this rating system include the following.

  • This metric evaluates 2019 alone. It does not tabulate anything (at all) before the 2019 season. This is evidenced by Ryan Tannehill outranking Aaron Rodgers, which will probably cause some skepticism, among other rankings.
  • The aforementioned scores are not predictive. Performance for any quarterback in 2020 could swing drastically, better or worse. The list is not a crystal ball for future games.
  • Think of this as just a single snapshot of the 2019 season.

As it stands for last year, Cousins ranked sixth and that outpaced his NFC North rivals as well as his two Vikings predecessors (that are still in the league) who sit at  No. 24 and No. 31, respectively.

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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ended up ranking higher than Cousins. But this was primarily a result of Garoppolo’s team appearing in the Super Bowl last season.