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.
Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has struggled in 2019, and for the first three weeks of the season, the Vikings had more rushing yards than passing yards, which is fascinating when you consider how pass-happy the league has become.
At this point of the season, the eight-year veteran has thrown only three touchdowns to go along with two interceptions, and last week after the Vikings’ loss to the Bears, Minnesota’s star wide receiver Adam Thielen was critical of Cousins.
“At some point, you’re not going to be able to run the ball for 180 yards, even with the best running back in the NFL,” Thielen told reporters, according to the The Athletic. “That’s when you have to be able to throw the ball. … You have to be able to hit the deep balls.”
However, even with all of his struggles, Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski still believes Cousins has not lost his confidence. When asked if he thinks Cousins has lost some confidence, Stefanski had this to say.
“I think playing that position, you’re going to have some peaks and valleys,” Stefanski said on Thursday. “And I think he’s smart enough and has been doing this long enough to know that there’s success to be had and a couple times you’re going to want a different result. I don’t get that sense from him. I think he’s really pouring everything he has into this week’s game plan.”
Obviously, the Vikings expected a lot out of Cousins when they signed him to a three-year, $84 million deal in 2018, but in reality, Cousins has been a slightly above average QB throughout his career. He is currently 36-39-2 as a starter and is 10-9-1 with Minnesota.
At the end of the day, the Vikings are stuck with Cousins for the foreseeable future, and after 20 games, it’s not looking good.
The recipe for the Minnesota Vikings this season is running the ball with Dalvin Cook and playing big-time defense, and on Sunday against the Raiders, that recipe was on full display. Led by Dalvin Cook’s 110 rushing yards, the Vikings rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, as Minnesota trounced the Raiders 34-14 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“Yeah, there’s a commitment to running the ball from our coaches philosophically and the way they game plan and the way they call plays, so that’s first of all given us a chance,” Cousins said after the game. “We have a very special running back in Dalvin Cook. He’s shown that. So those are two big pieces. And then our offensive line is executing the plays.”
The Vikings have more rushing yards than passing yards this season, and on Sunday, Cook became the first running back in Minnesota’s history to rush for three straight one-hundred yard games, which makes Cook happy.
It’s great. Chuck [Foreman] has been through this organization, Adrian Peterson as well,” Cook said. “Those are some household names, and to just be mentioned along with those guys is great.”
The third-yard back is leading the NFL in rushing yards, and his running mate, Alexander Mattison, who ran for 58 yards and one touchdown on Sunday, is very impressed by what he has seen by Cook this season.
“He is amazing and explosive,” Mattison said. “His intensity and his energy are amazing, so he provides that big dose of energy that we need as a running back room, as an offense, so it’s amazing for him to get out there and get things rolling the ways he does. We then just try to carry the team.”
According to Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, what impresses him the most about Cook is his toughness.
“He doesn’t need a lot of space, because he’s really good at slithering through holes,” Zimmer said. “Maybe the most impressive thing with him is toughness in the tackles. He doesn’t ever want to go down, but he’s a physical runner with great speed and home run ability.”
Many expected Cook to have an outstanding season, and after three weeks, he is off to a tremendous start.
For Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, Saturday’s performance against Arizona is something he would like to forget. Cousins completed only 3 of 13 passes for 35 yards, but fortunately for the Vikings and Cousins, this game does not count, and luckily for the Vikings, they were able to defeat the visiting Cardinals 20-9.
“Yeah, I think he can play a lot better than that,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said after the game.
According to Cousins, who played the whole first half, he knows that if he and the Vikings play the way that they did on Saturday, there is going to be a lot of struggles in Minnesota this season.
“I’ll just start by saying really disappointing performance,” Cousins said. “Put it on me. It wasn’t good enough. If we play that way during the season, it’s going to be a very tough year. So we have to be much better than we were today, and I really should say I have to be much better than I was today. It’s about as simple as that.”
The Vikings were without their top WR Adam Thielen on Saturday, but according to Cousins, Minnesota had a lot of issues on Saturday.
“I don’t think it’s any one thing. I think it’s a lot of things,” he said. “I don’t think you can put your finger on any one issue, but the bigger issue is just we were certainly off balance. It was disappointing.”
When it comes to preseason, you don’t get too high, and you don’t get too low, so while the Vikings first-team offense was bad against the Cardinals, outside of RB Dalvin Cook(85-yard TD run), it’s only preseason. Now, if Cousins looks like this way against the Falcons in Week 1, then there should be some concern in Minnesota.
In the NFL, the third preseason game is where the starters play the most and is traditionally a dress rehearsal for teams around the league, and for the Minnesota Vikings, it will be no different when they host the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.
Thus far this preseason, Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has led the team on only three drives, two of those drives ended in points, and on Saturday, he expects to play longer, which will help just in case the team gets off to a slow start against Arizona.
“I think the challenge with the first two games is if you don’t start fast, don’t play well early, you feel like you had a horrible game, and in reality if you play four quarters maybe you don’t, it just took you longer to get going,” Cousins said on Thursday. “So the nice thing with the third game is you have a little bit larger sample size in case you don’t start fast, but certainly we hope to and expect to start fast.”
Cousins and his teammates want to treat this game like it’s a regular season contest, and hopes that it will better prepare the team for Week 1 when they host the Atlanta Falcons.
“We want to put together a good showing against their starters with a longer amount of time on the field,” Cousins said. “It’ll be great to be at home and get familiar with that since Week 1 will be at home as well. Just similar to the others, it’s a dress rehearsal, but we’re going to treat it as a game and do all we can to be ready so then come Week 1, we’ve worked through as many possible scenarios as we can.”
The essential thing in the preseason is to avoid injuries, and while you want to look sharp, the most important thing is to stay healthy. Last season, in preseason game number three, Cousins played the whole first half, so expect something similar against the Cardinals on Saturday night.
To whom much is given, from him much is expected. Such is the case with Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, who joined the team after signing a three-year, $84 million deal last offseason. And while Cousins put up decent numbers(4298 yards, 30 touchdowns) in 2018, the team did not have as much success as expected. Last season, Minnesota fell short of making the playoffs, which made 2018 a massive disappointment for the club.
Now, this is year two for Cousins, and a new opportunity to prove that he is the guy that can lead Minnesota to a Super Bowl this season.
The Vikings closed training camp on Friday, and according to Cousins, he likes where the team stands at this point.
“I think we have a really good defense. I go along the roster, and I just feel like every player is a guy who can play and has been battle-tested in the league as well,” Cousins said on Friday. “I like our chemistry, our locker room, I think we have a great group of men, that’s got to count for something. I love our system; I love what we’re doing offensively, I think even our defense, and our defensive coaches going against us every day, would say that the system is a good system and is putting them in a bind and is challenging them, so that’s a positive.
“I just like the continued rapport that I and we are building with one another with more time together, and you got to go play the games to see where that leads, but those are some positives.”
Minnesota has a talented football team. They have weapons on offense, and they still have an outstanding defense. The key for this football team is the play of Cousins, and fortunately for him, most of the talent on the offensive side of the ball was there in Minnesota last season, so he should have a lot of familiarity with those players, which should help the team in 2019.
In reality, with the money that the Vikings gave Cousins, anything short of a championship would be a huge failure, so the pressure is on Cousins to get this team over the top.
Last season, things did not go the way Vikings fans envisioned, especially after Minnesota signed QB Kirk Cousins to a three-year, $84 million deal. What was envisioned, a Super Bowl contending team, and what actually happened are two different things.
The Vikings(8-7-1) missed the playoffs in 2018 after making the NFC title game in 2017, and while statistically speaking Cousins(4298 yards, 30 touchdowns) had a decent season, he did not do make things happen when the team needed him the most, which included losing to the Bears at home with the playoffs on the line in the season finale.
Even though the Vikings did not have the success they wanted, Minnesota’s star WR Stefon Diggs still has confidence in Cousins.
“I feel like it’s the big picture. Everybody wants things to happen so fast,” Diggs said on Wednesday. “But Kirk was only here six months or something like that. As far as going into his second year and getting comfortable, I remember at one point I was with Teddy [Bridgewater], and it took a while to get adjusted. I was new to the league, and he was young, too.
“As far as having a veteran quarterback that has been around the game, I trust him. Going into his second year, I look forward to building the relationship and just moving forward. We kind of have a bad taste in our mouths from last year. Of course, we had high goals like everybody else. Things didn’t go that way. Going into the new year, we have the same goals, but we just have to handle it differently.”
I think it’s safe to say that we don’t know what Cousins is at this point. Some believe he is good but not good enough to win a title, while others believe he is good enough to put Minnesota over the top. To Diggs’ point, we do have to give Cousins more than one year to prove his worth, but if things don’t go right for Minnesota this season, Vikings fans won’t be very patient.
Vikings assistant head coach and offensive advisor Gary Kubiak knows a lot of about winning quarterback play. First, as a player, he was a backup to the great John Elway in Denver. Next, he was a quarterback coach with the 49ers and helped Steve Young win a Super Bow in 1994. Furthermore, he was Elway’s OC and QB coach in Denver and helped the Broncos win back-to-back Super Bowl titles(1997-98). Finally, as the head coach of the Broncos, he helped the great Peyton Manning and Denver win Super Bowl 50.
Now, he is trying to bring that same magic to Minnesota with Kirk Cousins. While Cousins was unable to lead the Vikings to the playoffs last season, Kubiak believes Cousins is a good player, which is why he thinks he can help Cousins in 2019.
“I think it helps you look through the eyes of a quarterback,” Kubiak said today. “I put myself in that pocket when he’s back there. What would I think here, what would I think about that call or that situation. I know a lot about Kirk, I studied him coming out, obviously got to know him through the draft process, and then I got to know him even better through Mike [Shanahan] and Kyle [Shanahan] through the years. I know he’s driven to succeed, he’s a hell of a player, and we got to do everything we can to help him out. I look forward to that relationship. Hopefully being in there a little bit, what little bit John [Elway] let me plan my career, hopefully, I can recall some of those things.”
Adding Kubiak to the staff can definitely help Cousins. Having a guy around with his experience is very valuable for Cousins and the team. The pressure is on Cousins to live up to that three-year, $84 million contract, and maybe Kubiak can be the guy that can help him breakthrough in 2019.
Minnesota’s $84 million man Kirk Cousins was supposed to come in right away and take the Vikings to the next level, and that next level was the Super Bowl as Minnesota went to the NFC title game with Case Keenum as the quarterback in 2017.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, they would miss the playoffs in 2018, which was a huge disappointment considering the success they had last season.
In the NFL, the QB receives too much credit and too much blame, but it comes with the territory, and Cousins received a lot of the blame, but according to Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell, it’s not just all on Cousins.
“He’s a baller,” Treadwell told TMZ Sports. “This is the first year; we were a little rusty, but we gonna bounce back. We were learning each other, chemistry.”
This is only year one for Cousins in Minnesota, so it’s way too early to say the signing was a bad move. However, Cousins has to play better against better teams in the league. He was 1-6 against teams above .500 in 2018, and he is 5-25 against teams with winning records and is 0-1 in the playoffs.
Let’s see if that number changes in 2019.