Why Do People Hate Kirk Cousins?

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.

Understandably “hate” is a very strong word. Kirk Cousins seems to be a lightning rod of criticism more than virtually any other quarterback in the NFL. After orchestrating the greatest comeback in NFL history on Saturday, we find ourselves at this intersection yet again where critics and other people hate Kirk Cousins.

If you aren’t aware that Kirk Cousins is paid a lot of money by now, please let me invite you out from under your rock. The reality is that any team attempting to be good, or compete, is going to pay their quarterback a substantial sum unless they were drafted by that organization.

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The NFL is a league of “haves” and “have nots.” You are either one of the 15 teams that has a legitimate starting quarterback or you aren’t. If you are not, then you’re likely heading to the free agent market and overpaying for whatever castoff is sent there by their last team.

So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, Cousins and the Vikings represent an organization that is among the “haves.” They employ a capable starting quarterback on a large deal because he wasn’t drafted and developed here. Great, we’ve established what should be rudimentary.

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

That doesn’t make Cousins an All-Pro quarterback. Sure, he was invited to the Pro Bowl last season and has flashed at times, but he’s been a prototypical game manager for the majority of his career. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as there are pieces around him. Welcome to Minnesota.

Largely through the fault of special teams and the offense, Minnesota found themselves in a 33-0 hole against the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. They watched opportunities pass them by, gave up ugly turnovers, and did little when possessing the ball in the first half. Then they woke up.

That includes Kirk Cousins.

On the day, O’Connell had Cousins attempt 54 passes. That’s four more than he’s thrown in any other game this season, and just two shy of his career high set back in 2016. He finished with 460 yards and four touchdowns. That production is nothing short of exceptional, and the two interceptions become immediate footnotes in an otherwise welcomed performance.

But then there’s this…

Maybe mouth-breathing cretins will always exist, but at the end of the day we’ve gotten to the point in which facts apparently no longer matter. Cousins has now led seven 4th quarter comebacks and game-winning drives this season. That leads the NFL and is one shy of doubling his tally in any previous season throughout his career.

He won on Thanksgiving night. He won on the road. He beat a Miami Dolphins team without Tua Tagovailoa, and he beat a Buffalo Bills team with Josh Allen. Short of winning on the road during a Monday night game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, he’s done it all this season.

The 7 Surprises from Vikings Win over Patriots
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

You can certainly make the argument that Cousins doesn’t possess the ability to eat up the cap space he does for a team. While that’s probably fair, it’s largely indicative of the reality that quarterbacks are simply not plentiful enough for that to be dissected in good faith.

You could make the argument that he previously has wilted in key scenarios and cost his team games. An argument that you can absolutely not make, however, is that Cousins played poorly on Saturday in an NFL-record sized comeback.

Justin Jefferson is on pace to set NFL records, and the Vikings offense is as dynamic as ever under a first-year head coach. The man leading it all is still Cousins, and it’s probably time he gets his due.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.