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Who Will Have A Better 2018 Season: Alex Smith Or Kirk Cousins?

AP Photo-Nick Wass

Both Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins have new homes in 2018. Who will have the most success this season?

Although many expected Kirk Cousins to depart in free agency following the 2017-18 season and a six-year stint with the Washington Redskins, very few anticipated his replacement. The Redskins traded for ex-Chief Alex Smith in late January, sending a 2018 third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller to Kansas City. 

Consequently, Cousins chose to sign a three-year, $84 million (fully guaranteed) deal with the Minnesota Vikings, joining forces with a talented wide receiver duo in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.

Now that both quarterbacks are on different teams with different offensive systems—and with preseason games looming—it’s time to analyze: Who will have a more successful season in 2018?

Case For Both Quarterbacks


Alex Smith

The good news for Redskins fans is that Smith has been a winning quarterback throughout his career, whether it’s been with San Francisco or Kansas City. 

In seasons in which he’s been the full-time starter, Smith has just one losing season (2006 with the 49ers) in his 14-year career. Moreover, he’s easily coming off his best statistical season, as he threw for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns to just five interceptions, while also completing 67.5% of his passes. 

Alex Smith with a bad defense last year went 9-6.

Alex Smith is 50-26.

Kirk cousins 26-30-1

2011 Alex Smith 13-3
2012 6-2-1
2013 11-4
2014 8-7
2015 11-5
2016 11-4 #nfl pic.twitter.com/1j3d6SLdM6

— Martin Brian Ansah (@DaAnsahonSports) March 13, 2018

His 104.7 passer rating ranked first in the NFL among qualified quarterbacks. What’s even more impressive is that he did so while averaging a career-high 8.00 yards per pass attempt and finishing with a career-low in total turnovers with just six. 

Momentum is key in this league, and Smith is riding high on it; look for it to carry over into D.C., where he’ll attempt to reach the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season and deliver Washington their first Super Bowl title since 1993.

Thank You, Alex Smith. #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/UVe5oYF0Sb

— Zaldy Doyungan (@ZaldyTV) January 31, 2018

Kirk Cousins

Since becoming the Redskins’ full-time starter following the 2014 season, Cousins has been the definition of consistent. During the past three seasons, he has amassed 4,000 passing yards (4,166 in 2015, 4,917 in 2016, and 4,093 in 2017) and 25 touchdowns (29 in 2015, 25 in 2016, and 27 in 2017). Although they have only translated to one playoff appearance in 2015, these statistics have been quite impressive.

Throwin’ dimes.”
“Pinpoint accuracy.”
“Kirk’s the leader.”
“Everything that you want.”

Send #Redskins QB Kirk Cousins to the #ProBowl: https://t.co/hGNeyR1Xyf pic.twitter.com/ohPiJkOVNf

— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) December 5, 2017

Furthermore, Cousins makes his offensive weapons around him better, as Washington had the luxury to witness. We saw this in 2016 Cousins’s best statistical season, in which he helped both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson eclipse the elusive 1,000-yard receiving threshold. 

Additionally, his stellar play has transformed Jamison Crowder into one of the league’s best slot receivers, and Jordan Reed (when healthy) into one of the more dominant options at the tight end position.

Kirk Cousins 2016-2017 Highlights! pic.twitter.com/mljn2Dbyzi

NBA News (@NBA_Newss23) July 24, 2017

However, statistics aren’t everything in the NFL, and as previously mentioned, they haven’t resulted in enough victories for Cousins. It’s tough to foresee such a change in Minnesota that would propel him ahead of Smith and the Redskins in terms of total wins.

Downside For Both Quarterbacks


Alex Smith

Smith’s major negative is his age, as he just turned 34 in May. Not everyone in the NFL is fortunate enough to be Tom Brady, so as he nears 40, Smith’s level of play could very well take a hit. 

In addition, Smith’s success throughout his career has been a result of the necessary weapons around him. In San Francisco, it was Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Frank Gore. In Kansas City, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and rookie sensation Kareem Hunt helped Smith remain a top-level quarterback in this league.

Nevertheless, should they remain healthy, Paul Richardson, Crowder, Reed, and rookie Derrius Guice should be excellent substitutes for Smith in Washington, and he should have no problem having success with this new bunch on offense.

Kirk Cousins

Along with his inability to produce regular season wins, as well as playoff victories (zero with the Redskins), Cousins struggled mightily with turnovers. It’s one of the main reasons why Jay Gruden and company were reluctant to resign him for such a substantial amount of money. 

Over the course of his past three seasons as a starter, Cousins’ interception numbers have gradually increased (11 in 2015, 12 in 2016, 13 in 2017). Additionally, 16 of his 22 career fumbles have come during this period.

.@Lizzs_Lockeroom …Kirk Cousins Tribute #Redskins pic.twitter.com/jzg4HK2WaS

— Hilary (@HilareeBanks) March 13, 2018

For a player who is known for his statistics, high numbers in the turnover department is not something you want to see when predicting success. 

Verdict

Both of these signal-callers are hoping to lead their respective teams to the playoffs in 2018 and potentially contend for a Super Bowl berth. However, the ultimate question is: Who will have the better season? I like Alex Smith to experience the most success and lead Washington to ten wins and just their third playoff appearance in the last decade. On the other side, I anticipate Cousins and company to experience a rather mediocre nine-win season and barely sneak in as a wild card team.   

Edited by Jazmyn Brown.

SQuiz
Who did the Redskins face in the Wild Card round of the playoffs in 2015?
Created 7/9/18
  1. Green Bay Packers
  2. Philadelphia Eagles
  3. Dallas Cowboys
  4. Seattle Seahawks

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