The Kirk Cousins Debate Continues

Questions Answered: Cousins against PHI, Cine Ready, NFC Frontrunners
Oct 7, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports.

In an ideal world, Kirk Cousins would have put together a dominant performance during Minnesota’s recent Monday Night Football game. Instead, it was a rough outing for the Vikings’ QB1.

By the end of the game, Cousins had gone 27/46 for 221 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. He added 20 yards of rushing (which, somehow, led the team). For the season, his stats are humdrum: 64.1 completion percentage, 498 yards, 3 TDs, and 3 INTs.

For many people, Cousins’ recent struggles are simply the continuation of his prime time woes.

In fairness, it was a poor effort from almost the entire team. No one on the Vikings should be pleased with how things went. Perhaps the lone exception rests on special teams. Ryan Wright continues to impress. Greg Joseph nailed his extra point and his couple of kickoffs created issues for Philly’s return. So far, Matt Daniels has done a really nice job.

The offense and defense, on the other hand, have much to improve on. Consider, for instance, the screens. The Eagles weren’t fooled by Minnesota’s screen game. Folks, that’s a major issue. Screens can’t succeed if the opposing defense isn’t caught off guard. If they’re called at the right time and executed properly, they’re safe plays that can turn into large, explosive gains.

Kirk Cousins shouldn’t be shouldering all of the blame for the loss. His play did leave an awful lot to be desired, though.

Recently, Arif Hasan wrote a QB ranking for Pro Football Network. He places Minnesota’s QB in the fourth tier, a spot where QBs are merely “Along for the Ride.” Take a peak at the Cousins description:

This tier seems tailor-made for Kirk Cousins, who has consistently produced high-level statistical play without much in the way of wins or big moments. He’s been in phenomenal systems with great supporting casts, but when his individual talent level has been put to the test, he hasn’t always answered the call. Perhaps in an NFL environment friendlier to system-types, he could have been a star.

Don’t forget that Hasan has a long history of writing about the Vikings. By no means is he coming to this exercise with a shallow understanding of Minnesota and their offense. In Hasan’s mind, Cousins isn’t a player who will elevate his team. Instead, he’ll merely be “along for the ride,” a passenger whether the offense does well or poorly.

Moving forward, Kirk Cousins needs to be better. He (easily) has the largest cap hit on the team. In fact, Cousins’ $31.4M+ cap hit is a fair bit more than twice as much as the next highest cap hit (Eric Kendricks at $13.5M). Having such a remarkably high cap hit means Cousins must be better.

The Vikings have a long way to go. Only two games have been played, so fifteen are still on deck. Cousins will get the chance to help his team get back on track when Detroit comes to town in a few days.