Minnesota Will Struggle If Kirk Cousins is The Team’s Best Player

Sep 27, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) scrambles in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, this is a bit of a paradoxical notion, so stick with me on this one. The theory is that the Minnesota Vikings will struggle to consistently win if Kirk Cousins is the team’s best player.

Here is the obvious retort: “Wait, isn’t it a good thing if the QB1 is the team’s top player? Shouldn’t we be cheering for our team’s QB1 to lead the charge?” In many ways, these quibbles are legitimate. Obviously, it’s in Minnesota’s best interest for Kirk to play really well. The goal ought to involve seeing Kirk thrive in a purple uniform. Nevertheless, I return to the main idea: Kirk Cousins can’t be this team’s best player.

Allow me to explain myself.

Kirk Cousins and The Team’s Best Player

Following the 2017 season, Minnesota was looking to take the next step. The defense was legitimately dominant (apart from a clunker of a performance at the worst time). The belief was that a QB upgrade could be the missing piece. Cousins was never supposed to reshape the team’s identity; rather, the hope was that he could complement what Minnesota already built. This was still supposed to be a team that won largely because of a formidable defense. The offense simply needed to be good, not great.

Of course, the defense has taken steps backward since their 2017 glory days. Be that as it may, the goal still wasn’t for Kirk to take over. Zim has repeatedly expressed his desire for Dalvin Cook to be the engine that makes the offense go. When John DeFilippo refused to make that a reality, Zim fired him. The message was clear: the offense was still supposed to thrive because of the run game. Cousins was in a secondary role.

Earlier this week, current OC Klint Kubiak spoke about the need to see Cook more involved in the offense: “I think we just have to keep finding a way to get him the football.” Even after all Cousins did in the opening six weeks of the season, Minnesota is still shying away from featuring Kirk as the team’s best player. Folks, that’s the right move.

Cousins was never meant to shoulder the burden. Instead, the hope was that other players could be the team’s main reason for winning. On offense, Cook is still the go-to option even though he has been less effective this year. Before his injury, Danielle Hunter was perhaps the team’s most important player. Previously, it has been Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith, Everson Griffen, and Eric Kendricks. There are others who could be included on this list.

If the team has any hope of resurrecting their season, Cousins will need to be very, very good. More important, though, is that several other players are even better. Can Justin Jefferson turn short passes in long gains? Can Dalvin Cook keep Minnesota’s offense on the field by consistently getting strong gains? Can Brian O’Neill completely stifle the opposition’s main pass rusher? Can Everson Griffen make life miserable for the other team’s QB?

If these players can emerge at various points as the Vikings’ best player, then the team will have a chance to win consistently.

The Send Off

Don’t let the gaudy contract numbers fool you: Cousins was always meant to be a complementary piece. A crucial, supremely important complementary piece. This team needs other players on the roster to step up in order to turn the season around.

Against Baltimore, I’m looking for Kendricks and Cook to lead this team. Kendricks can hopefully slow Lamar in the run game. Cook can hopefully keep the Ravens’ offense on the sideline. If these players do these things – and Cousins has a strong game – then the Vikes could reasonably find themselves at 4-4.

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