Throughout the first half of the season, there was an uproar of angry fans calling for Kirk Cousins’ job. For the most part, they were justified in that frustration. Cousins threw 10 INTs through the first six games of the season en route to Minnesota’s abysmal 1-5 record. Discussions regarding the Vikings tank towards either Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, or Zach Wilson abounded going into the bye.
Cousins responded with not only one of the best second halves of this NFL season, but with the greatest eight-game stretch of any Vikings quarterback ever. He capped it off on Sunday with 405 yards, four total touchdowns, and a griddy in the victory over Detroit.
Look, you can blame this underwhelming 2020 season on a lot of things. You can blame it on injuries, subpar defense, offensive line, playcalling, just about anything. You cannot blame it on Kirk Cousins.
To prove this, I compared Cousins’ weeks 10-17 with eight game stretches of three other great Vikings quarterbacks: Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper, and Randall Cunningham. I know, I left out Fran Tarkenton, but it felt wrong to put him in this discussion given how much the NFL game has changed since his playing days. I also tried to find statistical stretches where these quarterbacks were at their very best.
For Favre, I used weeks 3-11 of the 2009 season since he passed for 110 and 155 yards in weeks one and two. Culpepper’s stretch was weeks 1-9 of the 2004 season (Minnesota’s bye was week four). Cunningham’s stretch was weeks 9-17, excluding week 10 since he threw just two passes in that game. See? I tried to be fair to the legends when comparing them to the mighty Kirk. Here’s how things stack up.
As you can see, Cousins is the only quarterback in the top-two of every category…except wins. He only had four victories, which many will hold against him. Well, of the eight games, four of them were against teams that have made the playoffs: Chicago (twice), New Orleans, and Tampa Bay. All three of these teams have defenses and offensive lines that are far superior to Minnesota’s. On the other hand, game everyone will point to as the bad loss came against Dallas.
I’m sorry, but you just can’t blame that game on Cousins. He went 22/30 for 315 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. This was not only an acceptable game; it was an incredible game, all things considered.
There were 480 team results through week 16. Of them, a total of 17 had a quarterback throwing 30 or more times for 310 yards, completing at least 70% of their passes, throwing three touchdowns, and having zero interceptions. Teams were 14-3 when this happened. Oh, and two of them were also given up by the Vikings’ defense. Aaron Rodgers accomplished the feat in week one, and Matt Ryan did so in week six.
Cousins obviously had one of the losses, but where did the other two come from? Well, they both were the result of Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson; the player who has been heralded (rightly so, by the way) as not having enough help. If Watson gets that as an out, then why is it unacceptable for Cousins?