Next-Gen Stats From Vikings-Eagles: Cousins Airs It Out

Will Ragatz

A reminder: Next Gen Stats is a fascinating and informative resource created a few years ago by the NFL to go beyond the box score and provide additional context. Last week, we looked at the NGS from the Vikings' win over the Giants, focusing on YAC Above Expected.

Let's take a look at some of the NGS takeaways from Vikings' best offensive performance of the year.

Kirk Cousins...threw the ball downfield? He threw the ball downfield! Look at this!

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14 of Cousins' 29 pass attempts traveled at least ten yards past the line of scrimmage. Just two weeks ago, only 4 of 36 attempts in Chicago cleared that threshold. The Bears pass-rush was much more of a factor than the Eagles, but it's still promising to see Cousins to take so many shots.

Cousins' average completed air yards (9.8) and intended air yards (12.9) were both the highest of any QB in Week 6. He only threw into tight windows 6.9 percent of the time, which was the fourth-lowest of any QB. What that means is that the Eagles' secondary was really bad, leaving Vikings pass-catchers wide open with regularity. Still, it's on Cousins to recognize and take advantage of that, and he did so all game long.

Another stat that shows how well Cousins played is Completion Percentage Above Expectation. Cousins' completion percentage of 75.9 was 14.5 points better than his expected completion percentage of 61.4. That CPAE was tied for the best in the league this week, and Cousins has nearly caught Dak Prescott for third in the league in that statistic. The two throws that most boosted those numbers were Cousins' two red zone touchdown passes (to Adam Thielen in the first quarter and Stefon Diggs in the third), each of which had a completion probability of less than 25 percent.

Cousins is third in the NFL in passer rating, trailing only Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes.

Other Next Gen Stats takeaways from Week 6:

  • Dalvin Cook was fourth in the NFL in efficiency, which measures total distance traveled with the ball per rushing yards gained. So while he didn't have much production on the ground, Cook continued to attack with a north-south rushing style.
  • Alexander Mattison saw 8+ defenders in the box on 12 of his 14 rushing attempts. He leads the league in percentage of carries against 8+ boxes, which makes his success this year all the more impressive.
  • Stefon Diggs had 65.3 percent of the Vikings' air yards this week and now has 47.4 percent of the Vikings' air yards on the season. Both of those figures are the largest of any player in the league.
  • Diggs reached a top speed of 20.64 MPH on his first touchdown, sixth-fastest across the league this week. Cook also cracked the top 10 by hitting 20.33 MPH on a 14-yard run. Cook is still the only Viking to break 21 MPH this season.