PFF’s VP of R & D: Cousins still just mediocre/a drag on the Vikings’ future

Adam Thielen and Kirk Cousins discuss route running during the Vikings week 17 loss to Chicago.

A couple of weeks ago I basically walked away from the, what I’ve just resigned to be a never-ending narrative, online debate amongst Vikings fans as to whether or not quarterback Kirk Cousins sucks. I felt that he had done enough to finally quiet those who kept moving the goal posts (in regard to what was good enough by their estimation), and decided that any further commenting on my part would just seem click bait-y at best and creepy AF at worst.

Enter Pro Football Focus’ Eric Eager, who has opined on his thoughts on Cousins a lot (as he is also a Vikings fan) over the years, most recently with his support of former Bucs turned third-stringer in New Orleans Jameis Winston.

Someone on Twitter brought up that dichotomy after the Jags game, to which Eager replied:

Let’s break this argument down into parts. The first part is that Cousins isn’t very good. The second is that the Vikings are basically resigned to mediocrity due to the Cousins extension, and third is that the Vikings have accomplished nothing except a worse draft position since the bye.

First things first, Cousins is anything but a meh/mediocre quarterback. He has had some struggles, like the start to this season or last seasons first four games, but he’s also bounced back and put up great numbers while carrying this offense from behind multiple times.

If not for a porous defense against Andy Dalton and the Cowboys, Cousins would have three come from behind wins in as many weeks. Eager touches on the Cowboys game and shows the cognitive dissonance that exists from the anti-Cousins crowd.

Dallas has a terrible defense so of course Cousins carved him up. But if he didn’t he’d be terrible. So, he gets no credit for playing well but essentially anti-credit for also playing well. Rather. What he’s saying is that a good quarterback (code for “veteran/highly paid”) should do what Cousins did! Except… he’s not good. He’s just a veteran that makes lots of money!

Do you see how maddening that logic is?

Despite the fact that Cousins has lifted this Vikings offense to elite status this season, somehow people are blaming special teams and defensive snafus (as well as some fumbles by Cousins/Dalvin Cook) on him.

The Vikings may not be built to win it all this year, but it’s objectively incorrect to put any of that on Cousins. Sure, he’s paid a lot, but he CLEARLY gives this Vikings team (one that hasn’t had a great track record of drafting/developing talent) their best chance to win this season and next.

What is the alternative?

Eager says something different/new… Meaning what? Winston? The 30 touchdown and 30 interception quarterback who can’t beat out Taysom Hill?

Tanking for a draft pick? Of course Eager isn’t saying the Vikings should do that (especially as Cousins’ contract is guaranteed through 2022 regardless).

Wait…

A couple of weeks ago I essentially figured out what anti-Cousins people have against him. His contract. While most metrics have shown that he’s OUTPLAYING his deal (if he did it in 2019, he certainly is in 2020 when he’s making $21 million).

So let’s review.

Cousins isn’t mediocre. He’s been bad, and also elite. You can point to why he’s played worse, and it typically has to do with the time he’s given (or not given) by the offensive line. He also doesn’t sense/deal with pressure the best, and he’s not blameless for his struggles, but…

Is he better than Winston? Yes. Is he better than some rookie crap shoot? Most likely. Is he mediocre? The second-most accurate quarterback in league history? The sixth highest rated? The guy who is among elite company in terms of throwing for over 25 touchdowns in each of the last handful of seasons (he’s the ONLY QB to do that the past SIX seasons) and that has 15 TD’s to 2 picks since the bye?

But he makes market rate for a top 10 quarterback and the team hasn’t won a Super Bowl with him (or anyone), therefore he’s sub-Winston/worth keeping around for the chance to tank for a quarterback that might be good in a couple years?

This offense needs a good quarterback right now. Not 2021, or 2022. Right now. Cousins is executing this offense at an elite level and you’d expect people to drop the mediocre label considering the Vikings offense is one of the best in the league.

Then again, I don’t work for PFF and I can’t find my TI-83 plus. So, I’m sure there’s some truth to what Eager is saying, although he is also Vikings fan so you have to question his choices. But it is worth noting that PFF has Cousins rated as the 7th-best NFL Quarterback (8th if you include Dak Prescott who was injured months ago) with a season-long grade of nearly 85 (84.6).

Considering his bad start to the season, Cousins’ post-bye rating is easily in the “elite” range. Jameis Winston never broke 74 and had his most recent season in the sub-70 range (the same year Cousins posted another 84 grade season, 2019).

Looks like even PFF agrees Cousins is not only a great quarterback, but one that is paid market rate for his services (considering he’s had a deal in the 7-8 range up until he restructured for his extension).

Is he perfect? No. Is he the best QB we’ve had that isn’t semi-retired before joining the team since 2004 (or one could argue before then)?

Yes.I actually, surprise surprise, wrote about that recently.

So why do people think this offense with all the talent it has needs to roll the dice on some unknown prospect when they could use that pick to bring the defense (back) up to the same level of the offense?

I said this before the Panthers game. Had 14:12/14:9 2014/15 Bridgewater done 1% of what Cousins has, he’d already be in the Ring of Honor. Delete Cousins name (or for sake of argument his contract) and keep his stats and I guarantee you that these Anti-Cousins people would be ecstatic.

I mean, dude was just NFC Offensive Player of the Week after a game winning drive (that would’ve been his second in two weeks if not for the defense/Jefferson and Thielen dropping balls). Which was similar to what he did yesterday.

But some people made up their mind about Cousins in August of 2018 and there’s nothing he can do short of win Super Bowl MVP that’ll convince them he’s the right fit in Minny. If that’s the bar, then every season 31 QB’s are trash, as is Fran Tarkenton.

Considering how great this offense has been, especially as of late, I’d argue that Cousins gives this team it’s best shot to do just that (win a Super Bowl, I mean, as clearly he’s the only one who can win Super Bowl MVP as… Him). But this team isn’t there yet for reasons not related to Cousins, so, while I totally get dissecting and debating each facet of this team, as that’s our job, people are yet again… I’ll just let ANOTHER article I wrote about this explain:

If you want more, cause I’ve got tons, here’s me delving into why exactly some people can’t stop hating on Kirk.