WASHINGTON — No pressure, no diamonds…oh wait, that was the other guy.
Kirk Cousins is the best quarterback in the NFL against the blitz, according to figures calculated by ESPN. Through Week 12, Cousins leads the NFL with a 119.4 passer rating when facing the blitz.
What makes that number more impressive is that he has just a 101.1 passer rating all season. That’s more than 18 points higher when he’s facing an overloaded pass rush than when the team sends fewer than four.
Vikings’ resurrection project Case Keenum is second with a 112.8 rating against the blitz.
ESPN uses the word “blitz” here, which typically means a pass rush of at least five defenders. That frequently entails linebackers and safeties, who might otherwise aid in coverage.
Cousins’ quick decisionmaking and use of outlet receivers have allowed him to find mismatches in the opposing secondary throughout the season.
Running back Chris Thompson, who was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list after Week 11, was the team’s primary outlet receiver. Fortunately, Cousins proved that he could succeed with Jamison Crowder in that role on Thanksgiving.
Although the team’s record may not reflect it, Cousins is having a stellar season.
He is second in the NFL in passing yards (3,038) and is on track for more than 4,400 this season. That would be just the fifth 4,000-yard passing performance in Redskins history, and second only to his 4,917 yards in 2016.
Cousins is the only quarterback in the NFL’s top six in total passing yards to have a losing record.
He’s doing this without the services of two 1,000-yard receivers who left in free agency, his top receiver and running back on injured reserve, a Jordan Reed limited to just five games, and an offensive line that has been in injury purgatory since training camp.
That is the perfect recipe for an opposing pass rusher to wreak havoc on a quarterback, and teams have failed to make Cousins crumble. If anything, it has made him significantly better.
Bring on the blitz.