It’s an argument that I remember happening (almost) as long as I’ve been alive. Who should be the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback, and is the current quarterback even any good? Outside of the Culpepper years, which lasted from the time I was four to when I was eight, there has been zero stability at the position.
Whether it be injuries, bad draft picks, or seemingly no plan at all, we’ve seen it all the past 24 seasons. This kind of instability can really mess with a fan base and make them incredibly jaded. That’s why when Kirk Cousins inked his big deal in 2018, fans were ready to be pessimistic about landing the biggest free agent quarterback of the decade.
So, it was with everybody ready for Cousins to fail that we entered into the 2018 season. I wish I could say that he immediately shut up critics and looked perfect. However, he didn’t. Not that that was all his fault, he was playing behind a patchwork offensive line who had just lost their leader in Tony Sparano prior to the season. Not to mention having one of the worst offensive coordinators in the NFL who seemed to only want to throw the ball.
Even so, Cousins looked like a scared rabbit more often than not and although he put up good numbers, including the first 4000 yard passing season since Minnesota legend Brett Favre, the team finished 8-7-1. That record left them just out of the playoffs and reaffirmed in the minds of many fans a fact that was all too true at the time “the Vikings can’t have a good quarterback.”
When 2019 rolled around, many were ready to line up Cousins, Mike Zimmer, and Rick Spielman up for the slaughter. Surely it was this trio of quarterback, head coach, and general manager that were the problem. The faults of the entire team were on the shoulders of these men. Cousins was to blame for on-field play, Zimmer was to blame for all coaching problems, and Spielman got stuck with building a terrible roster and never fixing the same problems.
These were, and still to an extent are, fair criticisms. However, Cousins and company did enough in 2019 to warrant some slack. After “not being able to win the big games” Cousins won two of the Vikings four primetime games and produced the second Vikings playoff walk-off of the New Orleans Saints in three seasons.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s time to anoint Cousins as an elite quarterback, but it is time to accept that he’s the Vikings’ man and the best they’ve had in a long while. There is also room for critique. Cousins is likely a big reason for the unhappiness and departure of Stefon Diggs, although I wonder how much of that was also just Diggs’ own ego. Kirk also is still an expensive quarterback who just signed another big extension.
Normally, I think this would be grounds for huge concern. Kirk is likely in the last couple years of his prime, but his play style should lend itself to longevity. Also, with the market for quarterbacks shooting up and up, it’s possible that in a few years Kirk’s deal could look like an absolute steal, especially if he keeps putting up the numbers he has.
This consistency and continuity at the quarterback presents fans with a new problem. Who do we complain about and debate? Well, may I suggest the two offensive guard spots that seem to be hanging in the balance? Or, perhaps, you can learn to be happy that you get to be a fan of a great organization that is doing their best to put an amazing product on the field that consistently competes at one of the highest levels in the NFL. Just a thought.