Their teams are better when they throw less
Currently, Kirk Cousins is on pace to finish the season with more than 600 pass attempts for the third time in his career. During the two previous instances in which this happened (2016 and 2018), Cousins’ teams failed to make the playoffs.
But with the Vikings in 2019, when he led a team to a postseason win for the first and only time in his NFL career, he finished the regular season with just 444 passing attempts. Those 444 attempts are the lowest amount Cousins has ever ended a season with since becoming a full-time starter in 2015.
When it comes to Alex Smith, the best season of his pro career in terms of team success was back in 2011 when he helped the 49ers get all the way to the NFC Championship as their starting quarterback for 16 games.
Interestingly enough, Smith only attempted 445 passes in 2011, which is an eerily similar amount of passing attempts to what Cousins had during the 2019 campaign. It’s also the lowest amount of throws Smith attempted during the five seasons in which he led his team to the playoffs.
While both quarterbacks have proven in their careers that they are capable of making the big throws, their teams are at their best when these two passers are not the focal points of their offense.