With spring in full swing, most football fans are focused on the draft. It is without a doubt an exciting time for all professional football teams, but Vikings fans should take a moment to revel in a player already on the roster. That player is quarterback Kirk Cousins.
After that last sentence, Vikings pessimists and promoters alike may look to the empty trophy case in U.S. Bank Stadium (note: it is not actually empty, nor is it at the stadium) and have some doubts. Yes, the Vikings fell short of the elusive Super Bowl last season, but quarterback Kirk Cousins had a monumental year on and off the stat sheet. He now has a real chance at a new beginning.
Per his usual self, Cousins put up gaudy stats in 2019. He passed for 3,600 yards and tallied 26 touchdowns. Nonetheless, skeptics barked all season about his inability to win the big game and be a true franchise quarterback. In playoff-bound “you like that?” fashion, Cousins finally silenced the haters.
Cousins rolled into Dallas, in primetime, against a team with a winning record, without one of his star receivers, and he orchestrated a prompt takedown of America’s team. The next week, he spawned a record-setting comeback against the Denver Broncos, decidedly proving his ability to overcome a deficit and salvage a win.
Of course, there were some clinkers too. Cousins can be held partially responsible for five of the team’s losses last year, but in most, he gave Minnesota a very good chance to win at the end (i.e. at Seattle or at Green Bay). The cherry on top was silencing the “who dat?” nation New Orleans Saints on the road. Short of winning a Super Bowl, there are no more narratives for the naysayers to cling to.
That brings us to the 2020 Vikings. If the league can get past Covid-19, Cousins has a chance to build on last season’s success and have a very good year. Every year is a new beginning in a way, but this one will be different for Cousins.
With no more monkeys on his back, it should not only feel like a fresh start, but a start in which he finally has street cred besides his stats. Cousins also now has the advantage of being coached by veteran coordinator (and former head coach) Gary Kubiak, who knows Cousins’ strengths and can get the most out of the quarterback. It’s the perfect storm for a sterling season.
Even diehard fans may look at the roster and be skeptical that Cousins and the crew can have success. Much of the team has turned over, and one of the offense’s biggest threats (Stefon Diggs) is gone. This is another reason why Cousins has a great chance to succeed. Low expectations equal less pressure. Less pressure equals a less-constricted Cousins. Without so much pressure, maybe he can let it fly like he’s playing backyard ball. After all, he has been most successful when Zimmer tells him to do so.
It is perfectly normal to be excited about the draft, but do not forget about memories of the past and what they mean for the future of the team. Regardless of what happens in the unpredictable draft, fans have reason to be confident in Cousins.