Mike Florio, Paul Allen, & The Vikings QB1 Controversy That Won’t Go Away

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Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs with the ball against the Buffalo Bills during second half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

As far as I can tell, Mike Florio and Paul Allen are friends. At times, they seem to get on each other’s nerves, but they’ve commonly been spotted together in interviews discussing the purple and gold. Florio is seldom shy about sharing his opinion; recently, he offered few thoughts on the Vikings QB1.

More interesting, perhaps, is that the back and forth continued into the AFC Championship Game.

The Vikings QB1 Controversy

Over at Vikings Territory, Dustin Baker took on part of this topic over the weekend. Dustin relays some what Florio had to say about Cousins on The Paul Allen Show: “Joe Burrow is the anti-Kirk Cousins. Joe Burrow is the guy who, like Kirk, will have a great season. But when the lights get bright, you’ve got one game, and your whole season is riding on it — do you crumble, or do you rise? Joe Burrow rises, Kirk crumbles.”

Allen sent along a tweet to clarify his view on the matter:

The NFC and AFC Championship games provided fertile soil to keep planting seeds of debate.

Indeed, the very exciting Bengals/Chiefs game featured some plays that certainly raised an eyebrow or two, one of which being Joe Burrow’s insane throw to Ja’Marr Chase on a 4th & 6.

Making matters even more interesting is that two Bengals defenders were all over Chase. Undeterred, Burrow decided to give his WR1 a chance and was rewarded for doing so.

Shortly thereafter, Pro Football Talk sent along the following tweet:

If there was any uncertainty – there shouldn’t have been – the PFT Twitter account made sure to mention Paul Allen in a follow-up tweet, confirming the comment was directed toward the Vikings QB1. Of course, we shouldn’t forget that Cincinnati ended up losing the game. The last time he had a chance to give his team a shot, Burrow took a sack from Chris Jones.

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Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes the ball against the New York Giants during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The comparison between Cousins and Burrow brings back memories of Justin Jefferson’s discussion of the two. During the summer of 2021, Minnesota’s QB1 suggested that Burrow had the intangible qualities that Florio praises in his tweet. Take a look at what Jefferson had to say via Bleacher Report and the video of the Colin Cowherd interview:

Kirk and Joe throw similar balls. They’re not the strongest-armed, but they’re going to get it to you exactly where you need them to throw it. But the thing about Joe that’s a little bit different…I feel like Joe has a little more swagger. He has that confidence on the field, and he’s not scared to get hit. I feel like as a quarterback, that’s a big trait to have. Especially to be as young as he is. He’s a phenomenal quarterback.

Playing with swagger and without fear are precisely what a quarterback needs in the most critical moments. An awful lot of Vikings fans would agree with Mr. Florio that Cousins is lacking when it comes to the “it-factor.” The more time goes, the more Cousins defenders seem to dwindle.

I, for one, have been more in the “defender” position lately simply because we saw the Vikings QB1 put together 8 game-winning drives this season. That being said, the final play against the Giants – a baffling, infuriating, pull-your-hair-out-surreal-what-in-the-world decision to throw the ball short of the sticks with the season on the line – created plenty of misgivings. Even after the dust has settled, the play remains incomprehensible.

Where Do the Vikings Go with Cousins?

As you may have heard, Minnesota will need to do some money shuffling to get their finances in order prior to free agency. The single move that could create the most space is a Kirk Cousins extension. It’s an outcome that I’m anticipating.

Obviously, deciding to keep Cousins around beyond the 2023 season is going to cause no little consternation and squabbling among Vikings fans.

Given the concerns/criticisms that Florio shared, one has to assume that he’d be against a sizable extension for #8 (though Florio should feel free to contact me if I’ve misread the situation). Many fans would likely be in agreement.

In the end, the decision will come down to Cousins and the team’s leadership group. Do the year’s consistently-clutch moments help to offset the playoff collapse? One has to assume that the plan is to compete once again in 2023.

If that’s indeed the case, then a Cousins extension is likely coming before March 15.