Kirk Cousins Identifies the “Curve Ball” of Vikings Training Camp

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As an 11-year veteran, Kirk Cousins has seen a lot in his NFL career.

Nevertheless, the experienced QB still has things to learn, something he confirmed while speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon. Cousins begins his media session by fielding several questions about Jordan Addison, who gets a ton of praise from the quarterback. Shifting over to Brian Flores prompted the QB to change gears.

Kirk Cousins and the “Curve Ball”

Brian Flores has a reputation.

Essentially everyone expects the defensive coordinator to bring the heat on Sunday. During practice, Flores has certainly being doing so, and Cousins has taken notice.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury (56) prepares to snap the ball to quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the first quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

“The defense,” Cousins notes, “it’s really been the curve ball of camp for me.” Shortly thereafter, Cousins describes how his experience has given him a good understanding of what to expect in camp. Interacting with the Flores defense has caused him to step back, though: “Going against Coach Flores’ defense is a first-time deal, so how are we going to handle these pressures? How are we going to handle these fronts? How are we protecting them? I’ve been wearing out my quarterback coach in meetings asking questions.”

Hearing the QB express his confusion should be encouraging to Vikings fans.

Dec 19, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores reacts while walking on the field before the game against the New York Jets at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, no one could persuasively argue that Cousins isn’t a smart football player. The man puts a ton of time and effort into his craft, and that’s evident when he takes the field. He does a nice of job of taking in pre-snap information and letting that help him after the ball is snapped. If Cousins struggles with deciphering what’s taking place, then other QBs will struggle, as well.

In a perfect world, Flores will find a way of deceiving the opposition’s signal caller. Doing so gives his side an advantage.

Indeed, one way of making a player appear slow is to confuse him. Spending a precious moment or two trying to decode what’s taking place can be the difference between taking a sack or getting rid of the ball, finding the open receiver or being late on the throw. The DC’s pre- and post-snap shenanigans can all contribute to making a QB play more slowly due to all that’s going on.

Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) looks to pass as guard Oli Udoh (74) blocks and Carolina Panthers defensive end DaQuan Jones (90) pressures in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Later in the press conference, Kirk Cousins describes how Minnesota’s defense does “a good job of showing you one thing, and then after the snap it’s something else.” That’s the key, folks. Creating an effective disguise will go a long way in neutralizing what an offense is trying to accomplish.

With Danielle Hunter back in the saddle, the Vikings defense appears ready to improve off of their awful performance in 2022. Ed Donatell’s scheme contributed to Minnesota finishing 28th for points against and 31st in yards allowed. At the very least, fans are bound to see a defense that’s far less passive, a welcome sight for many within the state of Minnesota.

Vikings fans will get their first glimpse of what a Flores defense will look like next week when the Vikings travel to Seattle. Given that it’s a preseason game, Flores won’t be bringing out all of his tricks. Even seeing the occasional blitz here and there is sure to cause some excitement, though.

There’s a bit more than a month before the Vikings’ regular season begins. The first assignment will rest in trying to overcome Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.