ESPN Thinks Kirk Cousins Played One of His Worst Games of 2022 in Week 15

The 2023 Vikings Have a Money Problem
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings mounted the greatest comeback in NFL history, but according to ESPN’s Quarterback Rating system, it was not a great day for the Vikings starting QB. In fact, ESPN thinks Kirk Cousins played one of his worst games of the season against the Indianapolis Colts.

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Cousins earned a 32.9 on their QBR system, his fourth lowest score of the season. The other three scores that ended lower than are as follows— Week 2 @ Philadelphia, Week 3 vs. Detroit, and Week 11 vs. Dallas.

The Vikings QB initially was given a 33.0 for his 460-yard, 4-TD performance, but apparently, the folks over at ESPN thought that was too generous of a result for Cousins, so they lowered his score by a tenth of a point. To compare, following the results of Week 15, Davis Mills is now up to a score of 34.5. In 12 games, Mills has 2440 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.

Essentially, ESPN is saying that Cousins would have been better off throwing for half as many yards and just one of his touchdowns as long as he didn’t have his first half pick-six. Granted, the pick-six was a bad throw, but this seems like a very harsh assessment of the Vikings QB1 after all he did in the second half of this game.

Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrate the win against the Indianapolis Colts after the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. With the win, the Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

If we look at the season QBRs for all NFL QBs, there are only three qualifiers with lower scores than the 32.9 that Cousins had on Saturday. Those three are Carson Wentz (31.9), Mac Jones (30.7), and Baker Mayfield (24.0). Mayfield’s score actually rose significantly after last Thursday’s 17-16 win over the Las Vegas Raiders where he put together 230 yards and a single touchdown pass. ESPN gave him a 62.0 for that effort.

This means that quarterbacks like Mills, Russell Wilson, Zach Wilson, and Matt Ryan all have QBRs in 2022 that are higher than what Cousins had this weekend. In fact, just two weeks ago, Ryan had a QBR nearly double of Cousins in a 54-19 blowout loss to the Cowboys where he passed for 233 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 INTs while completing just 56.8% of his passes. Ryan’s QBR at the end of that game was 54.4.

In all, this has been a very tough season for Cousins in terms of QBR, and Saturday is just the latest edition of that. Some of this is certainly warranted, like his score of 13.8 against the Dallas Cowboys. However, he’s now just the 19th best QB in terms of QBR this season with an overall score of 51.7. This means that QBR has him averaging a worse game than the showing Ryan had against the Cowboys a couple weeks ago.

There are obviously smart folks over at ESPN that do excellent work. That being said, their QBR system seems severely flawed if it believes Kirk Cousins played nearly twice as worse in Saturday’s victory as Matt Ryan played against the Cowboys. This is just another example of these flaws.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.