Vikes’ Stefanski on GW drive: ‘That drive was indicative of our players making a ton of plays in a big moment’

When the Minnesota Vikings received the ball first against the New Orleans Saints in overtime on Sunday, the goal was to do everything in their power to not give the ball back to the Saints, so for that to happen, they needed to score a touchdown, and they did.

On that drive, RB Dalvin Cook contributed as he rushed for a first down. WR Stefon Diggs caught a pass for a first down; Adam Thielen caught a 43-yard pass to set up Kyle Rudolph’s game-winning four-yard touchdown catch, and of course, QB Kirk Cousins made all throws.

The nine-play, 75-yard drive was orchestrated by Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who discussed the drive on Wednesday,

 “I think consciously we’re trying to score every time we touch it,” Stefanski said. “I think that drive, just credit to the players, Diggsy (Stefon Diggs) makes a big play on third down. Adam (Thielen) and Kirk (Cousins) make a great play, and then Kyle (Rudolph) makes a great play. Dalvin (Cook) had a good run in there to get us a first down. So I think that drive was indicative of our players making a ton of plays in a big moment.”

Of course, the Vikings are better when Thielen and Cook are in the lineup. Against the Saints, Thielen caught seven passes for 129 yards, while Cook ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns. 

According to Stefanski, having a healthy Thielen and Cook makes the Vikings’ offense more dynamic.

“I think we’re fortunate in that we have guys at every position that we feel confident can make a play,” Stefanski said. “When you have a player of Adam’s caliber that you know can make a play in the pass game, coupled with Stefon (Diggs) and the running backs and the tight end that we have, I just think it gives you another element to what we’re trying to do.”

Stefanski added about Cook: “Dalvin is a special player. When he touches the ball, good things happen. Does it open up other elements of our game? Certainly, it does, and we’re never going to shy away from saying that we’re going to be multi-faceted in how we attack a defense, so having number 33 is certainly a nice bonus for us.”

Minnesota has the weapons, and if Cousins is right, they can put up points against anybody, which they will need on Saturday against the 49ers. 

Thielen on Cousins: ‘He is going to prove that he is a top quarterback in this league’

In the last two weeks, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is starting to play like the “84 Million Dollar Man.” In Week 5 against the Giants, Cousins threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns, and on Sunday against Philadelphia; he threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns as the Vikings defeated the visiting Eagles 38-20.

After struggling in the first few weeks of the season, Cousins, who signed a three-year, $84 million contract in 2018, seems to have hit his stride, which is a good thing for Minnesota. Vikings WR Adam Thielen, who criticized Cousins after their loss to the Bears, believes Cousins is playing like the guy that they thought he would be in 2019.

“That is just the kind of guy he is,” Thielen said on Sunday. “He is going to learn from his mistakes each week. He is going to go back and watch the film and figure out what he needs to do better, just like we all do. You go back after a win or loss, and you look and say, “Well, could I do better?” He is a guy that we trust every week, he is going to give us his all, and he is going to keep getting better. He is going to prove that he is a top quarterback in this league and that he can play at a high level. You saw that today.”

On Friday, Cousins’ former teammate in Washington and current Eagles LB Zach Brown, called Cousins the “weakest” part of the Vikings’ offense. According to WR Stefon Diggs, who caught seven passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns against Philadelphia, Cousins answered a lot of questions on Sunday.

“As for former teammates, their personal opinion doesn’t matter,” Diggs said. “I think Kirk answered all your questions. He went out there and played his butt off.”

Cousins had a great two weeks against some bad secondaries(Giants and Eagles), so let’s keep that in mind, but to see him play this well has to be exciting for anybody associated with the Minnesota Vikings. And if it continues, Minnesota is going to be tough to beat moving forward.

Thielen: ‘8 (Kirk Cousins) doesn’t care what people say about him’

After losing to the Bears last Sunday, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins had a very rough week. He was criticized by WR Adam Thielen, which led to Cousins apologizing to Thielen. However, that was then; this is now.

Led by Cousins(22-27, 306 yards, two touchdowns), Thielen(seven catches, 130 yards, two touchdowns), and Dalvin Cook(218 total yards, including 132 yards rushing), the Vikings dominated the Giants 28-10 at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Cousins did his job, and more importantly, the Vikings move to 3-2 and get their first road win of the season.

“My preparation was the exact same, this week and last week,” Cousins said after the game. “I have a rhythm and routine that I’ve stuck with for five years now as a starter. I go about my business. I go to work. I keep my head down. The results aren’t always predictable.

“We don’t always know what’s going to happen. We could play a really good defense, and sometimes they get you. You come back to work, and you keep going. What you don’t do is quit. You don’t stop. You keep going. So, that’s what I’m going to do. This league will test you. It tests me every week. I’m glad we got a win this time. “

Cousins went over 300 yards passing for the first time this season and had a passer rating of 138.6, and according to Thielen, no matter what goes against Cousins, he just keeps pushing.

“8 (Kirk Cousins) doesn’t care what people say about him, he just goes to work, he grinds, he wants to be the best player that he can possibly be, and he wants to help his team win games,” Thielen said. “At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here to help this team win games. Do whatever we have to do, whatever the coaches ask us to do to help the team win.”

Cousins can breathe easy this week, but as we know the NFL, things can change quickly.

Thielen: ‘Obviously, money is good and everything, but championships are what it’s about’

Vikings WR Adam Thielen has proven to be one of the top receivers in football. Over the past two seasons, Thielen has averaged 102 receptions, 1324 yards, and six touchdowns. All while making the Pro Bowl in both of those seasons(2017, 2018).  This type of productivity is what got Thielen paid as he and the Vikings agreed on a four-year, $64 million contract extension last week.

Thielen, who was an undrafted free agent, has turned himself into an elite wide receiver in the NFL. It’s a remarkable journey for Thielen, and now he gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Thielen addressed the media today to discuss his new deal with Minnesota, his goal of winning a title with the Vikings, and more.

 Q: What did it feel like to finally sign the deal? What has it meant to you?

A: Honestly, it never was about money for me for any of this. It was just about being in the spot that my family and I wanted to be, and to be here locked up for a long time and to just show that we’re willing to do what it takes to be here and to have the opportunity to give back. That’s what it’s been about the whole time, and again, it’s never been about the money or anything like that, it’s just about having the opportunity to be here for a long time and to use those resources to give back.

Q: What does it say about the Vikings getting the deal done so quickly and not letting it linger?

A: It shows what type of organization this is. They’re not here to lowball people, they’re not here to take advantage of people. They want to reward the people that helped this football team win games, and ultimately they want to win games. That’s probably one of the biggest reasons that I want to be here for a long time, because I want to win games. I guess it just shows, it shows what this organization is about and how they treat their players and guys that may deserve to be here, and reward them for that.

Q: There seems to be two goals for football players, to win championships but also get that big contract. It has to mean something to be able to get one of the two?

A: Obviously, money is good and everything, but championships are what it’s about. Maybe a little bit too of feeling appreciated more than the fact that they paid me this amount of money. But like I said, it’s all about winning, it’s all about giving back, and it’s all about being in a situation that you feel comfortable in. When you find a locker room like we have and you have guys like that, you don’t want to go somewhere else. You want to be here and you want to be here for a long time. That’s what my family and I are most excited about.

Q: A lot of teams can preach being a family, but it seems like they’ve been able to show that in a tangible way here in Minnesota, haven’t they?

A: Oh yeah, for sure. You see that with Anthony Barr and other guys, they don’t care about the money. They want to be here, they want to be here for a long time, they want to be around these guys and they want to win. We know we have some pieces that we think we can do it with, and obviously it takes  a lot of hard work and dedication, and that’s why we’re here right now, to get back after it.

Q: How different is this workout from last year?

A: Well we’re only two days in, so I don’t know too much. I guess mindset wise everybody just has a different mindset this year. I think everybody is excited to learn the offense, to be around the guys. It’s not as much excitement about who’s here and who the new guy we signed is, it’s more about, “Hey, let’s get back on the field, let’s take advantage of every single one of these days. We don’t get a whole lot of hours in the building, so let’s take advantage of them.” I think teams that win championships, they win them right now by the work they put in and by doing it the right way. We’re trying to do that.

Q: What do you remember about that tryout with the Vikings six years ago, and what can you say about how far you’ve come since then?

A: I think when I look back at it I honestly get more nervous than I was in the moment. I talk about it a lot, I think back to that time and I think about coming in there and not really thinking much of it. I was just going to play football. When I was on the field I was just playing football, I didn’t feel any different than in college, didn’t feel any different than in high school. I think now when I look back I kind of get nervous, because I know that if I wouldn’t have done this right, or I would have been late to this, or if I would have ran the wrong route, I might have never gotten the chance. It’s just kind of crazy to look back at it, and the confidence that I had going into it, I probably shouldn’t have had, but I did. Again, God gave me an opportunity and he put me there for a reason, so it’s pretty cool to look back at that.

Q: Is that part of what you might say to younger kids in a similar position? To not look at the big picture of the NFL and get overwhelmed by it?

A: Yeah, I think that’s with anything in life. I think you just have to take advantage of the moment and you have to use every moment and you have to make the right decisions, and you can’t think about just how that’s going to affect you that day. You got to think about how that’s going to affect you in the big picture. Sometimes I get myself caught up in that and have to take a step back. I think that’s one thing that’s great about NFL off seasons, you get an opportunity to just kind of step back and look at your life and look at some of the things you’re doing and try to figure out what’s best for you and your family. It was a really good offseason for that, just to take a step back and realize some of the things I need to work on and get better at and then try to do that.

Q: Could you appreciate what you did well and did you take time to admire your successes, like your record-setting stretch of 100-yard games?

A: No, I don’t think I ever will honestly. Those things just aren’t important to me. I think there’s more to life to me than setting records and things like that. I don’t want to leave this world being remembered for that stuff. Honestly, for me it’s just trying to be the best person I can be every day – be the best person on the field, off the field I can be and trying to grow and learn from our mistakes, whether that be on the field or off the field. Try and not to worry about what people think about me, just trying to focus on, again, getting better.

Q: How long did it take to shake off the way last season ended or have you been able to?

A: Yeah, honestly, I know it might be cliché to say but I’m just really excited about being here right now, getting back after it with the teammates and working towards next year. You can’t dwell on the past, you can’t look at the past and try and change things because you can’t go back and you can’t change it. I mean obviously right after the season you start thinking about things and when you have all that time to yourself you start thinking about “woulda, coulda, shoulda”. But at the same time, I think that’s why it’s important to get back into the weight room and try to figure out things that you need to do to get better and focus on that rather than what you could have done better and what you could of changed from the season before.

Q: Do you have any new purchases planned?

A: No. Not yet. My wife does a good job of holding me back on that kind of stuff, but I think it’s a really cool opportunity to be able to give back to this community, to people, and places that have been so instrumental in my career and my life and shaping who I am. Just trying to figure out a game plan with that, but no game plan for purchases that’s for sure.

Q: What are some of the things you will do in the community?

A: It’s something that I have to sit down with my wife and some of the people that we respect as far as counsel, so we haven’t decided on any of that stuff yet.

Q: Do you demand more of yourself now going into this season with this new deal?

A: I don’t think that’s fair to do to yourself. Honestly, I’m going to take the same approach and kind of the things that I just talked about. I’ve been able to step back and figure out what things on the field and off the field that I need to do better and now I got to go and attack that and try to be the best teammate I can be, try to be the best leader I can be and let everything else play itself out. At this point, that’s all you can do. There’s only so many things you can control and everything else you just got to let it play out.

Vikings, Adam Thielen agree on contract extension

The Minnesota Vikings and wide receiver Adam Thielen have agreed in principle to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced today.

According to reports, it’s a four-year, $64 million deal.

Thielen, who will enter his sixth NFL season in 2019, has been named to consecutive Pro Bowls after the 2017 and 2018 seasons and is coming off a career year, recording 113 receptions (third most in team history) for 1,373 yards (fourth most in team history) and nine receiving touchdowns, all career highs. The Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, native became the first player in NFL history to record eight consecutive games with 100-plus receiving yards to start a season, doing so in the 2018 campaign.

Thielen, who attended Minnesota State University, Mankato, was named Second Team All-Pro by the Associated Press after the 2017 season when he helped guide the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game after posting 91 receptions (ninth most in team history) for 1,276 receiving yards (10th most in team history) and four touchdowns.

Originally entering the NFL in 2013 with the Vikings after going undrafted, Thielen has appeared in 80 career games with 46 starts and has totaled 293 receptions, 3,897 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns. Since the start of the 2016 season, Thielen ranks tied in the NFL in third-down receptions (82), seventh in receptions (273) and seventh in receiving yards (3,616).