One Stat to Dead the “Garbage Time Cousins” Narrative Once and for… Who am I kidding, it’ll never go away

Cousins walks out onto his vast, vast field of money.

At this point in my life as newly single 36-year-old childless man with the BMI of a manatee with a drinking problem, I’d take a Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl victory over having… What do people call it? This is embarrassing… Oh yeah, children. Part of that has to do with not wanting to pass on that Manatee gene (Kelp is as hard to come by as it is delicious), but the other half has to do with my love for the Vikings. The other OTHER half? Or third, at this point? Would be seeing how those Vikings fans explain away the fact that Kirk Cousins got the Vikings over the hump.

We all know who those fans are. The, as I’ve dubbed them, Never-Cousins-ers.

“Sure he was on the team that won the Super Bowl, but why did it take him four seasons? Also, he doesn’t call the plays or catch the balls and he hands it off a lot!”

Time and time again they’ve created some sort of statistic or scenario that’d be good enough. Or rather, they point to something Cousins hasn’t done and thus will never do as an example of how he’s holding back the Vikings roster while probably also pressing every button on every elevator he gets out of just because he can. That Cousins, I tell ya, a real piece of work… They say.

If you’re (still) reading this you’re familiar with at least some of those narratives as you’ve probably seen them on social media. Cousins will never: Beat a team with a winning record, win a playoff game, win a prime time game, put the team on his shoulders, come from behind and win, cure cancer, run a 3-minute mile, etc.

As Cousins has progressively accomplished everything they said he couldn’t (I’ll have to double check the cancer thing…), the Never-Cousins-ers moved to the last bastion of someone who really just can’t admit they were wrong in the Summer of 2018. That Cousins will never win a Super Bowl for Minnesota and that all of these positive stats everyone is now using aren’t actually real because … Garbage time!

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard the garbage time argument. Because, you know, Cousins has essentially won half of the games he’s started for Minnesota which means that he not only piles up most of his stats in the games he loses (in the second half or fourth quarter to boot!), but somehow winning games without putting up ANY stats!

Just as the “Cousins in Prime Time” narrative has been widely debunked (He’s performed better, statisically, in prime time), it’s time for the garbage time narrative to do the same. I was delving through different stories this morning and came across a paragraph from Heavy on Vikings that I thought was worth sharing.

Trevor Squire, who has the best name in the business, broke down the Cousins Garbage Time Narrative (or the CBTN as no one is calling it):

“The argument is statistically a farce as Cousins has compiled a 102.8 quarterback rating in his career when trailing by one score and a 110.3 quarterback rating when ahead by a score. When trailing by two scores, Cousins has accrued a 94.8 quarterback rating, however, his lack of big wins continues to fuel the narrative.”

Oh no. Close one door and a window opens!

The lack of big wins? We’ll get into that in my next piece, as we’ve still got some work to do here!

Our Vikings/NFL Insider, Dustin Baker (who is the editor of our new NFL Site, FranchiseTagged.com), broke this down recently on this site with the following Tweet:

Beyond that Cousins also has the following “garbage time” stats:

4th-Most TDs, Score Margin within 10 Points since 2018

Most Touchdown Passes in 2nd Half / Score Margin of Game within 10 Points / Since 2018:
Patrick Mahomes (36), Russell Wilson (36), Kirk Cousins (33), Deshaun Watson (30)

So where does this come from?

Washington was never a good team with Cousins there, but he still put up consistent numbers, so consistent in fact that he’s the only quarterback in the NFL to have 25 or more touchdowns each of the last SIX seasons. Sure, Washington had some bad teams but I still don’t understand how people who watch the same Vikings games I do think that Cousins is just lighting up his stat sheet because he has, like any quarterback on a mediocre team, lost some games and had some garbage time production.

Then there’s just this reality. Cousins’ 2020 really took off after the Vikings started 1-5 after six weeks, had a Week 7 Bye, and then faced the Green Bay Packers. In the six games after the Bye? Cousins had 18 of his 35 touchdowns, nearly 1,600 yards, TWO interceptions and went 5-1.

You know, cause of all the garbage time in those games.

Then there’s the fact that he threw 25 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions in the red-zone in 2020. He also had 18 touchdowns and NO picks inside the 10. That doesn’t really negate garbage time but I just wanted to throw that in there because as people are gearing up for the Draft and hoping that someone like Justin Fields or Trey Lance falls to the Vikings at 14, I’m just sitting here pointing out that the Vikings already have one of the best quarterbacks in the league that is coming off of his best season as a Viking.

Imagine what he’d do with an actual packet to pass from? With the talent surrounding him everywhere but where it matters most?

Actually don’t imagine that. The last thing we need is for the Never Cousins-ers to use their wild imaginations to find some new scenario that explains away Cousins’ excellence.

“Sure, he’s been perfect in the red-zone, but did you know that when he throws a ball over 10 yards in the air from the 35-yard-line on a Thursday Night the Vikings don’t win the Super Bowl for the last six decades?”

I can hear it now.

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