Redskins: When will we know if Kirk Cousins is good enough? See me in November.

Kirk Cousins is in his second consecutive “prove it” year to convince the Redskins that he is good enough to be paid top dollar.

Pro personnel people whisper that it takes about 36 game appearances before they can tell about a player. For quarterbacks, it’s 36 game starts, not appearances, starts before teams can make that judgement.

Bill Barnwell’s story on confirms the idea. Barnwell wondered when do we KNOW when a QB is good? He wrote the story with an eye towards judging rookies Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz. (Good starts, but too soon to say.)

Barnwell crunched a lot of numbers (so I didn’t have to) going back to 1990, and then looking at players’ average adjusted passing yards per attempt after four, eight, 16 and 32 games, then compared them to the overall league-wide measure.

The money quote is this.

“It looks like it really takes two full seasons’ worth of data to get a real sense of separation between useful, productive quarterbacks and those who failed to live up to expectations.”

Be warned. Barnwell wrote a long form story and it involves numbers. You don’t have to be a stat geek to read it. (Click the link here.)

The real critical period

Cousins started his 29th game on Sunday against the Browns. We already wrote that the critical period for deciding Kirk’s future is the five game stretch between Weeks 10 and 14, which will be his 34th through 38th start.

At that point, you’d expect his stronger performances to offset his earlier weak ones. You can scan for his rate of improvement and for consistency. It’s at that point when you stop calling him a “developing player.”

We liked Kirk at Michigan State because he was clutch. That hasn’t always transferred to the Redskins … because he’s a still developing player.

After Week 14, everyone should measure Cousins by the clutch factors:

  • 50% or better third-down conversions.
  • High percentage Red Zone scoring, with TDs not FGs when inside the 10.
  • Above league average passing efficiency (7.0+ adjusted yards per attempt) and productivity (TD% of passes), and…
  • Wins.

On Sunday against the Browns, the ‘Skins converted four of eight third-downs and scored four of five trips to the Red Zone for the 31-20 win. The Redskins are 2-2 and rank fifth in passing yards per game after Week 4.

We believe Cousins will make the grade. After Week 14, we will make no excuses for him. There will be no need.

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