Vikings’ GM: ‘Kirk(Cousins) has proven he’s one of the top quarterbacks in this league’

The Minnesota Vikings announce the team has agreed in principle to a contract extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The 31-year-old Cousins had one year left on his current deal, which was the three-year, $84 million contract that he signed in 2018. According to ESPN, Cousins was due a $29.5 million base salary for 2020, which becomes $10 million on his new deal. His new deal is worth $66 million over two years, including $61 million guaranteed at signing.

“We are very excited to keep Kirk and his family in Minnesota for the future,” Vikings GM Rick Spielman said. “Kirk has proven he’s one of the top quarterbacks in this league and has continued to improve and progress each day since he arrived here. It means a lot to have such upstanding individuals like Kirk and Julie committed to not only our team success but also to our community with all the exemplary work they’ve done in that arena. Our collective goal is to bring a championship to Minnesota, and we will do whatever it takes.”

Cousins, who will enter his ninth NFL season in 2020, was named to his second-career Pro Bowl after setting several personal, franchise, and league-best marks during the 2019 campaign.  He became the first player in NFL history to post three consecutive games (Weeks 5-7) with at least 300 passing yards and a 130.0 passer rating and set an NFL single-season record by finishing five games with a completion rate of 80.0 or higher. Cousins ranked fourth in the NFL with a career-best 107.4 passer rating while recording nine games with a passer rating of at least 100.0, tied for the most in the NFL in 2019. The Michigan State product also earned NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors in October, thanks in part to a 137.1 passer rating that stands as the second-highest single-month passer rating in NFL history (Peyton Manning, 138.0, September 2013).

“Julie and I are thrilled to be staying in Minnesota for the next several years,” Cousis said. “People have embraced us and treated our family incredibly well. We also believe we are building something special at the Vikings. We know how much this team means to the fans and the state, and we want to do everything we can to help this team bring a championship home.”

Cousins notched the first postseason victory of his NFL career at New Orleans in the Wild Card round last season, and has proven to be an outstanding quarterback, but the questions remain on whether he is a championship-caliber quarterback. For Vikings fans, time will be the judge of that.

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Zimmer on Cousins: ‘I think this may have been his best year that he’s played in the NFL’

The season is over for the Minnesota Vikings after they lost to the 49ers 27-10 on Saturday in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

On Monday, it was time for the players to clean up and head home, and it was time for Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer to reflect on the season that was, which meant talking about his quarterback Kirk Cousins.

In 2019, Cousins played very well for the Vikings. After a slow start, Cousins threw for 3603 yards with 26 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. The interception total was a career-low for Cousins as a starter. After missing the playoffs in 2018, Cousins was able to guide his team to the playoffs, including going into New Orleans to defeat the Saints in the Wild-Card game. 

According to Zimmer, Cousins played the best football of his career in 2019.

“I think Kirk (Cousins) played a lot better this year than he did the year before,’ Zimmer said. “I think obviously the scheme helped him quite a bit, and so I think yeah, I think this may have been his best year that he’s played in the NFL.”

When asked if the Vikings should lock up Cousins long-term, Zimmer had this to say.

“To answer the question, the best way to answer it is part of the reason why I didn’t want to do player evaluations today or this week was because I want to get away from everything for a little bit of time, evaluate the players,” Zimmer said. “You know, if you win, everything is great, if you lose, everything is the worst in the world, so I think it’s important that we take our time, get away from it for a few days, then we evaluate, and we’ll go from there. Not just on Kirk, on everybody.”

The 31-year-old Cousins will be entering the final year of his three-year, $84 million contract in 2020, so the Vikings will have a decision to make. The question for the Vikings is, can they win a Super Bowl with Cousins as their quarterback, and as Zimmer evaluates Cousins, I think he will probably have more questions than answers.

Cousins was not very good against the 49ers, and while he completed 21 of his 29 passes, he only threw for 172 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Vikings have so many weapons on offense, including Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen. Therefore, he really does not have any excuses.

In the end, when you guarantee a player $84 million, you expect results, and those results need to be a Super Bowl victory.

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. 

Zimmer on giving Cousins game ball: ‘I just felt like it was time to tell a lot of people that he’s our guy’

“You Like That!”

Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins shut a lot of people up on Sunday. Cousins and the Vikings(11-6) went into New Orleans(13-4) and were able to beat the Saints 26-20 in overtime, and one of the main reasons they won, is because of Cousins.

The eight-year veteran did something that many thought he could not do, and that is win not only a playoff game but do it in such a harsh environment. The Vikings don’t defeat the Saints without Cousins, who threw a beautiful 43-yard strike to Adam Thielen, which set up the game-winning touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph.

Cousins completed 19 of 31 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown, and after the game, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer presented him with the game ball.

On Monday, Zimmer discussed how it felt to give Cousins the game ball. 

“It was just about him solidifying himself with all of the bad rhetoric that he gets all the time about this or that,” Zimmer about Cousins. “I just felt like it was time to tell a lot of people that he’s our guy, and he did it.”

The Vikings have to travel to San Francisco to play another 13-win team in the 49ers in the Divisional Round on Saturday, and the same recipe they used against the Saints, Dalvin Cook and the run game, tough defense, and Cousins, is what they will need to move on.

Many have criticized Cousins, who signed a three-year, $84 million guaranteed contract with Minnesota in 2018, especially after he failed to lead the Vikings to the playoffs last season, but if he can keep winning in this year’s playoffs, Minnesota will definitely like that!

Vikes’ Zimmer on winning three road games to get to Super Bowl 55: ‘I know it’s been done before; why not us?’

The Minnesota Vikings(10-6) had nothing to play for on Sunday against the Bears as their playoff position was already solidified; Minnesota will be the sixth seed in the playoffs. With their playoff spot settled, the Vikings did not play most of their starters, including QB Kirk Cousins, and would lose to the Bears at home 21-19.

Now, it’s time to focus on the playoffs. To get to the Super Bowl, Minnesota will have to win three straight games on the road, and it starts next Sunday when they face the New Orleans Saints.

When asked if he thinks the Vikings can win three straight road games and get to Super Bowl 55, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer had this to say.

“I know it’s been done before,” he said. “Why not us?”

Vikings Defensive End Ifeadi Odenigbo added: “Coach Zimmer was harping on us all week that all through OTAs, camp, this is what we have been waiting for. We have the guys in this room to do it, and we are excited for next week.”

The last wild card team to make the Super Bowl was the 2010 Green Bay Packers, who defeated the Steelers in SB XLV.

Can Minnesota make a Super Bowl run? Playing the Saints in New Orleans is a very difficult proposition, but anything is possible. However, it all depends on what Cousins shows up. If it’s the Cousins we saw later in the season, the Vikings could make some noise, but if it’s the Cousins we saw earlier in the season, and last week against the Packers, then no, they can’t make any noise. For now, we wait and see. 

Zimmer on Vikings: ‘I was definitely disappointed with how the offense played’

As they enter Week 17, the Minnesota Vikings have nothing to play for when they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Vikings are locked into the second wild-card spot after their 23-10 loss to the Packers on Monday night.

Minnesota struggled badly on offense against Green Bay. The Vikings had only 139 yards of total offense and were held to seven first downs. It was not a great day for the offense, which Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged on Tuesday.

“Yeah, I was definitely disappointed with how the offense played,” Zimmer said. “They played really good almost every game all year. We get three turnovers to start the first half or end the first half, and we come away with 10 points, and two of the three turnovers were on their end of the field. We had way too many three-and-outs. Yeah, that part was very disappointing.”

While Vikings QB Kirk Cousins(16/31, 122 yards, TD, INT) did not play well on Monday, Zimmer doesn’t just blame the eight-year veteran for the team’s issues on offense.

“I think it was a combination of things,” Zimmer said. “I thought Green Bay did a good job in coverage. They played a lot of coverage last night. They changed up some of their rushes and so they were kind of getting in his lap. The combination of that and not running the ball, I think it was really a whole bunch of different areas. It wasn’t just Kirk (Cousins). We didn’t block him up front very well, and they did a good job in coverage.

Conversely, Minnesota’s defense played well on Monday night. They forced three Packers’ turnovers, which led to Minnesota’s 10 points, and according to Zimmer, the defense was solid against the Packers.

“Defensively, I thought, for the most part, we did a good job as far as eliminating the big plays. Played decent in coverage and at times we still had some mistakes,” Zimmer said. “I thought we did a decent job on third downs, and then in the red zone, we were okay. It kind of got away with us there at the end.”

In fairness to Cousins, his offensive line did not play very well. Cousins was sacked five times against the Packers. Also, Pro Bowl RB Dalvin Cook did not play on Monday night, which had an impact on the offense. 

Fortunately for the Vikings, they have two weeks to get ready for the playoffs, but if they want to advance, the offense has to play better than it did against the Packers. 

Cousins on Vikings’ defense: ‘Certainly they played well enough for us to win the football game’

Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers(12-3) was a very forgettable performance for the Minnesota Vikings(10-5). With an outside shot to win the NFC North, the Vikings played one of their worst games of the season, especially on offense.

The Packers sacked Kirk Cousins five times and had him under duress the entire contest. Cousins finished the game completing only 16 of 31 passes for 122 yards with a touchdown and an interception as Minnesota was defeated at home by Green Bay 23-10.  With the victory, the Packers clinch the NFC North.

While the offense struggled, the Vikings’ defense played fairly well. Minnesota forced three Packers’ turnovers, which led to Minnesota’s 10 points, and according to Cousins, Minnesota’s defense played well enough for the team to win. 

“I thought the Packers just did a good job taking things away and stopping us in a lot of different areas,” Cousins said after the game. “And just a few plays that we didn’t connect on that ended drives for us. And our defense played at a very high-level tonight. Certainly, they played well enough for us to win the football game. But we just weren’t able to put it all together.”

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs, who had three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown, felt the offense just could not get on track against Green Bay.

“It was definitely frustrating,” Diggs said. “We work all week on a game plan, and when things don’t go as planned, it is very frustrating. We tried to adjust to some things, but nothing was working.”

The Vikings’ offense was held to only seven first downs in this game, and without Pro Bowl running back Dalvn Cook and Alexander Mattison, had a hard time running the ball with Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah. Minnesota was held to 57 yards on the ground, which made this team one-dimensional on Monday night.

“I certainly don “t want to minimize Dalvin’s impact on our team because he’s a tremendous player and has had a great year,” Cousins said. “But we also have really good football players tonight at those positions. So, we certainly felt that we had the firepower. So, I guess it’s a small sample size right now, but obviously, the result was certainly pointing to not good enough.”

Cousins is now 0-9 when playing on Monday Night Football, but fortunately for the Vikings, who have secured a playoff spot(wild card/6th seed), no playoff games will be played on Monday night.  This was a tough loss for Minnesota. However, they have to regroup and get ready for the playoffs.

 

 

Vikings OC Stefanski on Cousins: ‘He’s playing at a high level’

The last time the Minnesota Vikings(10-4) faced the Green Bay Packers(11-3) was in Week 2, and at that time, Minnesota’s offense was struggling, including their quarterback Kirk Cousins. In that game against the Packers, Cousins struggled early, played better later, but ultimately was picked off in the end zone with an opportunity to take the lead in the fourth quarter, as the Packers defeated Minnesota 21-16.

On Monday night, the Vikings get a chance to avenge their loss to the Packers when Green Bay travels to Minnesota to battle the Vikings. 

For the Packers, who have already clinched a playoff spot, if they win, they win the NFC North. The Vikings can still win the NFC North, but Minnesota would need some help. Minnesota would have to defeat the Packers and Chicago in the season finale and hope that the Packers lose to the Lions in Week 17. With those scenarios, more than likely, the Vikings will make the playoffs as one of the wild card teams, which will happen with a win in the next two weeks or a Rams’ loss. 

A lot has changed since the Vikings played the Packers in Week 2. Cousins is playing at an elite level. He is seventh in touchdown passes(25) with only five interceptions, and more importantly, the Vikings are 9-3 since their loss to Green Bay, including a 39-10 victory over the Chargers last Sunday.

“He’s playing at a high level,” Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski said about Cousins on Friday. “He’s doing the things that we’re asking him to do. He’s the same guy walking into the building, and he’s putting in the effort every day.

“I just think Kirk (Cousins), individually, collectively as an offensive, I think the guys are playing fast. I think they’re playing to their strengths, and I think you’ve seen over the course of the season, Kirk’s play has been stellar. I think you can go across the board and point out a bunch of guys that have really rose to the occasion.”

Offensively, the Vikings have a lot of weapons. They can run the ball with Pro Bowl RB Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, and they have weapons on the outside with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, which means Cousins just has to get the ball to his playmakers and let them do their thing. 

The Vikings will go as far as Cousins will take them, and if how he has played this season is any indication, maybe Minnesota is in a good place right now. 

 

 

Vikings’ Cousins on defeating Broncos: ‘It was a special win’

Down 20-0 at halftime, it seemed that the Minnesota Vikings were on their way to a very disappointing loss to the Denver Broncos at home, but fortunately for the Vikings, the team woke up in the second half, and they were able to defeat the Broncos 27-23 on Sunday.

After taking the lead in the fourth quarter, the Minnesota faithful had to sweat this one out. Denver was able to move the ball down to Minnesota’s 4-yard line with 10 seconds left and no timeouts, but the Vikings’ defense stiffened, and Minnesota was able to escape with the victory. 

“It was an exciting game, obviously. It’s nice to come back,” Vikings head Mike Zimmer said. “Showed a lot of heart, showed a lot of guts, showed a lot of courage. Obviously, we didn’t play very well in the first half. We had penalties, fumbles, gave up big plays. Just did not play very well. But we came together, we fought pretty darn good in the second half and made just enough plays to win.”

One of the reasons the Vikings were able to make a comeback was QB Kirk Cousins(29-35, 319 yards, 3 TDs), who threw three touchdown passes in the second half, including the game-winner to TE Kyle Rudolph.

“It was a special win,” Vikings QB Kirk Cousins said. “Like you said, it’s not common to do it. It wasn’t looking good there, but we kept playing and got enough explosives and scored fast enough to have time on the clock, and our defense only allowed three points in the second half, which is crucial to any comeback, and that often gets lost in a comeback is how much your defense keeps you in it when you’re down. So obviously, then, the final plays they made in the red zone were enormous as well.”

According to ESPN.com, this was the first time in five years — a span of 100 games including the playoffs — that an NFL team won after trailing by 20 or more points at halftime.

Great win for Vikings, and while they need to play better moving forward, they get the win, they move to 8-3, and now it’s off to enjoy the bye.

Vikings’ Zimmer: ‘I think we’re moving in the right direction’

The Minnesota Vikings(7-3) got a very good win on Sunday night in Dallas. Behind the running of Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, the passing of Kirk Cousins, and a stifling run defense. Minnesota was able to defeat the Cowboys 28-24.

Minnesota was able to dominate the line of scrimmage against the Cowboys. The Vikings rushed for 153 yards against Dallas. Cook, the league’s leading rusher, ran for 97 yards and a touchdown, and Mattison ran for 52 yards, and for the fourth game in a row, Cousins(23-32, 220 yards, 2 touchdowns), who was sacked only once, did not turn the football over.  

Defensively, the Vikings shut down Ezekiel Elliott. The two-time Pro Bowler was held to 47 yards on 20 carries. All that was done without maybe their best run-stopper in Linval Joseph, who missed last night’s game due to a knee injury.

“Really good team win yesterday on the road, prime time,” Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said on Monday. “I really thought that both sides of the ball, our offensive line, and defensive line, played outstanding. Played with a lot of toughness, a lot of physicality, a lot of grit. One of the things we talked about in the offseason was 10 minutes left in the game, and going out and winning those football games.

“A week ago, we were up by three with ten minutes left, and we lost the game. Last week we were up by four and won the game. I think we’re moving in the right direction; we just got to keep going.”

It was an impressive performance by the Vikings, and after how they let one slip away against the Chiefs last week, you have to give Minnesota credit for bouncing back against the Cowboys. The Vikings have an excellent football team and seem to have the recipe for success in the postseason, which is running the ball, stopping the run, and not turning the ball over.

There is a lot of football to be played, but as Zimmer said, Minnesota definitely is headed in the right direction.