Analysis

Is Cousins to Blame for Vikings Woes?

Reid reads between the lines...

When a football team struggles, their fans tend to blame the quarterback. Such is the case for Kirk Cousins, who is taking heat for the Vikings 1-4 start. 

 

Cousins may not be a perfect quarterback, but the team’s losing record is not his fault. Some simple film analysis can quickly vindicate Minnesota’s signal caller.

CLEAN POCKET = CALM, ACCURATE COUSINS

Regrettably, Kirk Cousins does not have the speed of a mobile quarterback, so he is best suited to throw from the pocket. When protection is good and he has average or above average time to throw (2.5-3 seconds), Cousins usually finds an open man.

Note: In these images, the pocket will be loosely drawn in yellow, with areas of pressure or concern in red. All screenshots are from last week’s game against Seattle.

 

Cousins has a mostly clean pocket, and he’s able to hit Chad Beebe for a first down.

Cousins has a completely clean pocket and finds Irv Smith Jr. for a nice gain.

The offensive line stiffles Seattle’s pressure, and Cousins floats a beautiful pass into the end zone. If not for a rare drop by Thielen, it would have made the highlight reel.

 

Backed up against his own end zone, Cousins has good protection and slings a pass to Thielen.

 

Cousins has plenty of time and space to scan the field and hit Thielen for a touchdown.

 

COLLAPSING POCKET = RUSHED, INACCURATE COUSINS

Like many quarterbacks, Cousins becomes flustered under pressure, especially with his lack of mobility. Pressure is part of the game, but Cousins faces more than most… Minnesota’s offensive line ranks 27th (out of 32) in pass protection. Much of it comes from the right, where the Vikings have the lowest-rated guard in the league (Dru Samia, ranked 75th out of 75 eligible guards). 

The rest of the offensive line is only marginally better. As you’ll see below, Cousins is frequently put in compromised situations, which often lead to incompletions, interceptions, or fumbles. With so much pressure from different angles, it would be difficult for anyone to succeed.

 

With heavy pressure from the interior, and oncoming from the edge, Cousins attempts a quick pass to Rudolph that falls incomplete.

Cousins is pressured from both sides when right guard Dru Samia gets beaten (and is called for a holding penalty), and left tackle Riley Reiff is spun around. Cousins quickly ejects the ball for an incomplete pass. Kudos to Cousins for not taking a sack or throwing a pick here!

The last play of the game was a real mess, and here are some reasons why. Two Vikings linemen were out-leveraged, twisted off balance, and pushed into Cousins. Dru Samia (73) had a miscommunication and is blocking nobody.

This play led to a controversial game-ending fumble, but it wasn’t Cousins’ fault. With no time left on the clock, running wasn’t an option, nor was taking a sack. For the record, I disagree with the ruling of a fumble, as it should have been an incomplete pass.

It’s easy to see: Cousins is capable of playing very well when he’s not under heavy pressure. General Manager Rick Spielman is well aware of the real problem and is considering replacing Samia at right guard. So long as the offensive line is in this condition, Vikings fans should stop blaming Kirk Cousins.

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Chris
Chris
13 days ago

Another cousins apologist. He is paid way too much money to need a clean pocket. Cousins is simply greedy. He is a 15 million a year QB at best. Even the redskins knew that. But cousins wanted the money and he sure isn’t earning it. Stop giving him a way out because every play is not perfect. Cousins sucks.

TC Mitchell Jr
TC Mitchell Jr
Reply to  Chris
12 days ago

And the offensive line is paid a lot of money to block for him and protect him as well. Everybody is so concerned about how much money he’s making, when the Real problem is, the offensive line is just not doing a good job of protecting him. We pay him to pass the football and leave the running to Cook,Mattison, Boone, Ameer and Ham. Football is a team sport. Games are basically won in the Trenches. Basically who ever dominates the Trenches/Line of scrimmage wins the game. We dominated the first half and Seattle dominated the second half and who basically won the game…Seattle

Jon Miller
Jon Miller
12 days ago

So you say not to blame Cousins for the lost. What was that LAME DUCK pass towards Jefferson that got pick and changed the momentum. Sure looked like that was HIS FAULT, can’t blame Justin cause ball never got to him.

Jess white
Jess white
12 days ago

It’s not cousins fault the Vikings are throwing money at him he is a vary good QB but his contract is going to make it hard to put all the peace’s in place and for as much or many draft picks we have had we have miss on more than we have hit big on im still vary much on the fence with Barr we would have been better off going after a haha or Reid at 2.5-5 mil. then paying Harris find some one to take Kyle Rudolph (Please don’t get me wrong I like both of these guys just not at 9-11 mil each ) off are books and trying to trade up instead of trying to get 15 picks and I understand we couldn’t afford to pay any of the CB we lost this off season but if we could have seen more of an effort to get some kind of return for griffin, Rhodes or Linval things would not look or seem so bad. The Vikings need to proactive but instead we are time and time again they put them selfs in reactive situations for instance having all you Qb contract expire the same year or wait tell a guy finally has a great year to try and extend there contract. Or lose 3 starting CBs in one off season. I do think Rick has made some good moves and found some great players in the draft but the bottom line right now is we are going to once again start a rebuild only this time we have no flexibility in the cap to do anything but hope some of the i think 25 or 28 draft picks we have had the last to year start making plays and changing game it’s feeling like we will be on the down hill slope tell we get are cape back to be able to keep guys with the talent and brings some talent in . I have been a Vikings fan for life living in WI I’ve got to see us get great deal and find amazing talents but for all the good and great we have three misses or wasted opportunity not draft Aaron Rogers we had 2 first round picks that year picking pattison over Allen wasting picks on ponders and Treadwell and trading 1st round pick on QB that never took us any ware. So me my self agree with you the Vikings losing isn’t even half of cousins fault it’s poor planing over paying and missed opportunities because you didn’t want to take the best talent you only go after a position of need . Sorry for the rant go Vikings I will be a fan at are worst and always look forward to see us at are best skol skol skol vikings go

Robert Limgrill
Robert Limgrill
12 days ago

What is the point here? Shouldn’t all NFL starting quarterbacks be good in the pocket? We pay good money for the moments when the pocket breaks down and get out of the mess.

Donald QUICK
Donald QUICK
12 days ago

This is the pattern with Vikings they stack the team with talent over several season’s, go through average coach’s until they get “that one” than blow it in playoffs when they’re hitting on all cylinders like they did with the eagle’s three seasons ago, THAT WAS THEIR MOMENT, I knew when they blew it their players peaked in their prime, that they were done or seasons to come. But they spent 90 million on a quarterback who’s never made it deep into the playoffs it was at that time I saw the writing on the wall Cousins would flip and in order for Zimmer to save face eventually he would have to cut major talent and hope they could get lucky in the draft which is a crap shoot. They knew this day was coming. Because of all the money they spent on cousins they’re desperate and when the team is desperate they start making all sorts of mistakes including in the free agency market and drafting. Get used to the losing team for the next three seasons.. this is Minnesota championships don’t happen here.

Lindsey DiMaria
Lindsey DiMaria
2 days ago

If you have watched Cousins throughout his career, what stands out about him is that he has no grit or intangibles and he has never elevated his play in order to make his team better. You can make all of the excuses that you’d like about the offensive line, but there have been QBs throughout the course of NFL history that have had less to work with but were more productive in terms of wins. Kirk Cousins’ signing will set the Vikings back 5+ years. The domino effect began the moment they released Teddy and Case and opted for a gritless QB that had done nothing to justify the gargantuan hit we took to the salary cap. Losing Waynes and Alexander should never have happened. Rick Spielman had done a good job until “the collective” decided that Cousins was the “missing piece.” The moment they signed him was the moment they unwittingly began to dismantle the defense and left no room to sign upper tier offensive linemen in free agency. It is easily the worst trade/signing since Herschel Walker.

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