One part of what we strive to do here at PurpleTERRITORY Media, is to represent the different voices and points of view that exist in Vikingsland. Part of that, my favorite part, is debating hot-button issues both internally (our behind the scenes chat topics) and externally, in point-counterpoint articles.
That brings me to today’s topic, an article written by our very own Zeke Warren-Weigmann, that labels Cousins’ 2020 stats as “Fool’s Gold”.
Now, as the self-proclaimed biggest Cousins supporter/“apologist”, I wanted to react to this piece as … I couldn’t find anything else this morning that met my typical standard for what topic(s) I cover each day (which is essentially something that makes me emotionally engaged somehow)… and because I just plain disagree with Zeke on this one.
Let me preface this by saying something important, as we’re going to be launching our first site/app combo in the next few weeks that’ll finally launch our internal community. We are hoping (perhaps naively) to create a space where people can debate Minnesota sports passionately without getting personal in the process. After all, we are all here for the same reason, because we love the Vikings.
So, just because I disagree with ZWW, doesn’t mean he’s whatever negative label people typically use when they disagree with a take of ours. Debating these things should be part of the fun, not the source of palpable anxiety whenever we accidentally see the comments to our stuff!
Also, this stat has been floating around Vikings Twitter/social media for awhile so it’s something I meant to cover eventually anyway. But figured that Cousins’ increasingly OP play would speak for itself.
Zeke’s article essentially focuses on one statistic, Cousins’ total yards passing. He rightly focuses on the stat that I’m sure you’ve all seen floating around the anti-Cousins corners of Vikings Twitter, that up until recently Cousins trailed Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in yards passing. The same Dak Prescott who was injured earlier this season on this play:
However, like most individual statistics, there’s more to the story.
As you know, the Vikings strive to be a run-first team and have done so with relative success this season. While even at the best of times defensively that’s been their goal, they’ve triple downed on that at points this season as a way to keep the opposing offense off the field by putting together long, drawn out drives.
As we saw with Dallas and Carolina, sometimes a team can score a go-ahead touchdown too early. While that came back to bite the Vikings against Dallas, the same couldn’t be said for Carolina thanks to a missed 54-yard field goal.
Being able to not only direct those long, drawn out drives as a quarterback takes a certain level of elite talent. Because not only do you have to dink and dunk, as Cousins and company did against the Seahawks (with five drives of over 10 plays), but you have to score touchdowns on those drives otherwise you’re going to win the time of possession game while only being up by six points.
Cousins may be 29th in terms of pass attempts and 26th in terms of completions, but he’s 8th in terms of passing touchdowns. That’s efficiency, and a testament to how good this Vikings offense has been since the bye.
Think about that. The Vikings are 10th in rush attempts and 6th in rush yards, but they are also 8th in regard to rushing touchdowns. That alone shows the efficiency at which Cousins is performing while executing Kubiak’s offense.
There’s that aspect, as well. That Cousins is executing a plan, a plan that we established above. Should he be blamed for that plan if he’s executing it as well as anyone could?
Or, better yet:
If, as Zeke says in his conclusion:
“With this iteration of the Vikings offense on track to be the best in franchise history, a statistical reality that has become ever more clear with this most recent victory over an underrated Panther’s defense…”
Then you have to ask yourself, which is more important. The fact that Cousins is executing the plan to a level that is on par with the great offenses we had with Randy Moss/Cris Carter/Robert Smith/etc. or his passing yards?
The goal is to score points while also keeping the other team’s offense on the sidelines for as long as possible. So they don’t score points, or even worse, punt or score points and then kick a returnable ball.
Despite being a run first team, Cousins and the Vikings rank just as high for passing touchdowns as they do for rushing touchdowns. Both are top 10 in the league. On top of that, and most importantly, the Vikings are 4-1 since the bye while scoring an average of nearly 34 points a game.
The ‘98 Vikings? The best offense in team and league history (at the time)? 34.75 points per game (vs. the 33.6 since the bye). On the season the Vikings averaging nearly 30 points-per-game despite the atrocious start they had.
Some of those points were garbage time before the bye. Since? As Zeke lays out, this offense is on par with some of the best in the league… Ever.
Two opposite things can’t be true at the same time. This Vikings offense is great, in every facet. They don’t air it out a ton by design but when they do they’re historically efficient and lethal.
The outcomes of that offense might not be flashy yards through the air, but every other MORE IMPORTANT metric points to Cousins and this offense being pure, Fort Knox quality, gold.