Kirk Cousins Has Been Minnesota’s Best Player

Kirk Cousins
Oct 24, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws during the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Generally speaking, good things happen when a team’s highly-paid, franchise QB is the best, most consistent player. Our Vikings have never really conformed to conventional wisdom, though.

Through two weeks, Kirk Cousins has been our best player. One could argue that there were some better players from the Arizona game. Forced to choose one standout, I’d lean toward Danielle. His three sacks were incredible to see, largely because of last season’s dismal pass rush as well as Kyler Murray’s elusiveness. Hunter was great in Week 2, but his Week 1 performance wasn’t as elite. Dalvin Cook, similarly, may be said to have had a better game in Week 2, but he was somewhat pedestrian in the opening week of the season.

So, I reiterate: Kirk has been our best overall player through two games.

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Let’s take a look at the basic stats. Through two games, Cousins has a 71.6 completion %, 595 passing yards, 5 TDs, and 0 INTs. He had a 106.8 passer rating against the Bengals; he had a 122.4 passer rating against the Cards. Ask yourself: would you be content with a QB who completes more than 70% of his passes as he averaged nearly 300 yards a game with 2.5 TDs and no turnovers? Context, of course, is of supreme importance. Not all stats are made equal. Well, Kirk marched us down the field in do-or-die scenarios in both Week 1 and Week 2. It’s the team that let him down.

The more advanced numbers are similarly laudable. Currently, Cousins is coming in at 4th overall in PFF‘s QB rankings, behind only Tom Brady, Jalen Hurts, and Ryan Tannehill. Like last week, Cousins is looking good in Kevin Cole’s QB ranking. He has also had some nice runs, and his pocket presence in Week 2 was noticeably better than in the past.

Take a peak at Dustin’s QB rankings over at Vikings Territory. Cousins is coming in at 9th overall.

Perhaps more importantly, Cousins has stepped up in clutch moments in both games, as I briefly suggested above. He marched us down the field in OT in Week 1, but we were undone by a Cook fumble. He marched us down the field at the end of the 4th against Arizona, but we were undone by a missed field goal. Kirk did everything right to put us in a position to win both games.

Minnesota’s leadership trinity – Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, and Kirk Cousins – are all competing for their jobs this season. If things continue on their current path, all three may be looking for work in 2022. So far, Cousins has played more than well enough for us to be 2-0.

Many Vikings fans were (and still are) concerned about Cousins. Onlookers speculated that the only thing that could quiet critics was if Cousins finally went out and played nearly flawless football in 2021. He hasn’t been flawless, but he has been pretty darn good. It’s the team around him that has let him down in these opening two weeks.

As I noted yesterday, the Vikings are entering what feels like a must-win game against the Seahawks. We’ve lost to them in three straight years. Cousins has been our starting QB in all three losses. Go back to re-watch and you’ll find several tough plays from Kirk in each game. To have any chance against the Seahawks, we’ll need Cousins to reverse this three-year trend by instead continuing on his current trajectory for the 2021 season.

Let’s hope our franchise QB continues his strong play and that the rest of the squad can elevate in clutch moments.