By The Numbers: Smith vs. Cousins

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Alex Smith is poised to become the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins after a reported trade from the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs are said to have reached an agreement in principle to trade Smith to Washington for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick. 

It means Patrick Mahomes will take over as the starter in Kansas City, while Washington's Kirk Cousins, set to become a free agent, will be looking for a new team.

But are the Redskins right to be swapping Cousins for Smith? Here, we take a look at the Opta data from Smith's time as a Chief and Cousins' time as the Redskins' starter to find out.


Despite only taking over as the Redskins' starter in 2015, Cousins has completed more passes per game than Smith since he was traded from the San Francisco 49ers to the Chiefs in 2013.

While Smith has averaged 20.9 completions, Cousins has averaged 23.6 and he also has a greater completion percentage. Cousins has completed 67 per cent of his passes as Washington's starter, Smith, meanwhile, has a respectable completion percentage of 65.1 as a Chief.


Since his switch to Kansas City, Smith has a touchdown to interception ratio of 3.1, only Tom Brady (4.2) and Aaron Rodgers (4.4) have a superior ratio in that time.

Cousins' ratio is 2.3, with his 36 interceptions since 2015 more than Smith has thrown in his five seasons with the Chiefs.

However, Cousins' yards per completion average of 11.6 is slightly superior to that of Smith (11.1) and he also has a better QB rating in his time as starter (97.5 to Smith's 94.8).



When it comes to the fourth quarter, Smith may be the quarterback you want of the two. He has nine fourth-quarter comebacks with the Chiefs to Cousins' seven with Washington, though Smith has obviously had longer as a starter.

They are tied, however, on game-winning drives with 11 each, suggesting equal levels of reliability in the clutch.

The data indicates the Redskins may be getting a quarterback who is somewhat more careful with the ball than Cousins. Yet the difference between the two appears minimal at best and, by giving up a very talented young corner in Fuller and a draft pick, Washington may have paid too high of a price for a player likely approaching the final years of his career.