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Cousins Deserves Your Praise

Folks that bemoaned Kirk Cousins’ performance for the Minnesota Vikings in losses to the Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons were in bounds while doing so. Cousins was villainously ineffective, and his team suffered because of it in both games. Next steps for the franchise were coming together – cut him for a humongous cap hit, trade him to San Francisco, or draft an heir apparent quarterback for a soon-to-be transition. 

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In the interest of objectivity and adherence to basic factual principles, Cousins now deserves bushels of praise – especially from those that vehemently savaged his production in the Colts and Falcons games. If he is to be blamed for those two stinkers, he is to be applauded for the breath-of-fresh-air games recently against Detroit and Chicago. Otherwise, the verdict is that the spewers of Cousins-related bloodthirstiness are biased. Or they flat-out dislike the 32-year-old quarterback.

Choose which mindset accurately describes you. 

If it’s an evidence-based reality, Cousins has been integral in the Vikings revitalization. He is assuredly not worthy of all the credit as much of that is owed to Dalvin Cook and the Vikings learning-to-walk defense. 

Most of the Cousins venom is derived from his salary. The talking point is that he “makes too much money.” In a democratic republic founded upon capitalist principles, it’s rather bizarre to advance this theory, but it happens nevertheless. Cousins’ numbers – year in and year out – are of a magnitude worthy of his current contract. He has not been a quarterback on the level of Patrick Mahomes, but Cousins does not demand a half-billion dollars. 

Forget the griping about dollars. Put the nasty games in the perspective of a career’s body of work rather than what-have-you-done-for-me-lately. After that, Cousins is owed a bit of credit for his work after the team’s wretched 1-5 start.

Win at Chicago Was Much Needed

Boy, oh boy – Kirk Cousins needed the Week 10 win at Chicago. Even if the Vikings had won by a score of 6-3, Cousins needed a victory in that damn building.

Foremost, the strange “Monday Night Wins” stat was on the line. Cousins pushed that off to the side in favor of Minnesota Vikings victory rather than a Kirk Cousins triumph. Rarely do quarterbacks trot on to the field and play offensive line and defense and special teams. Why is that? Well, football is a team sport. 53 men contribute to a win, loss, or tie each week. Do we talk about “Team Wins” at the French Open? No – because it’s a singular sport. 

If Quarterback Wins were a coherent statistical metric, we’d have a March Madness tournament each January involving only quarterbacks. Alas, we don’t because the game of football is comprised of over four dozen young men on a given team.

Toppling the Bears in Chicago was the most impressive feat of Week 10. The Vikings had not done so in three years, and Cousins was verifiably bad in his two previous trips. He was the opposite this time, and lo and behold, the Vikings snuck out of Chicago as victors.

2nd Best in the Business since the Bye Week

Don’t look now, but what Cousins usually does in October from a statistical standpoint – is happening in November. In 2019, Cousins was the NFL’s best quarterback during the month of October. It was statistically one of the best Octobers in NFL history. It was coined by Vikings loyalists as “Kirktober,” and it seems Cousins was a bit tardy in replicating the streak. 

This time, it’s going down in November – a time when the Vikings desperately need Cousins to be at his apex. Since the Vikings bye week (which feels like eons ago), Cousins three-game passer rating of 123.0 is the second-best in the league to MVP frontrunner, Patrick Mahomes. Behind Cousins in this three-week metric: Aaron Rodgers (122.4), Drew Brees (120.2), and Kyler Murray (117.6). 

The season is heating up indeed, and a flammable Kirk Cousins has shown up at a time when the Vikings are amidst a palpable inflection point.

The Blame-Glory Paradox

This cannot be stressed enough: If the goal is to attribute the quarterback position to a majority of wins and losses, the philosophy must be applied with consistency. Should Cousins play poorly and the Vikings flounder, he is labeled as a flunkie. To pivot this ethos with “well, the defense is playing much better” or “look at what Dalvin Cook is doing” while Cousins is playing marvelously – is a lesson in mealymouthed logic. Pick a side on the “QB Wins” spectrum and stick to it. 

Perhaps the Minnesota Vikings were in a tailspin early on because the quarterback, defense, and offensive line were all not up to par, and that was the reason for hardship? That probably seems more reasonable than pointing the finger (yes, that finger) at Cousins.

Now, analyze the last three games: Cousins is efficient, the defense is hitting on most cylinders, and the offensive line is performing admirably. Shockingly, the Vikings are winning because of the team aspect of football. Praise should be allocated aplenty – with Cousins a keynote recipient.

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