… I nominate the fact that Cousins has never won a Thursday Night football game while Dalvin Cook has less than 75 yards but more than 25, and where at least one of his receivers is out because of Planter Fasciitis)
You saw this coming.
After all my “LEAVE KIRK COUSINS ALONE” (that’s a deep cut reference that shows I still think it’s 2008 (along with my wardrobe, dating life, and hair cut)) articles over the past two weeks, it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to write an “I told you so!” article about Cousins after his great Monday Night Football performance and win.
While I believe that his Monday Night Football record before this game was mostly a coincidence and not something you can actually learn from (as Cousins, statistically, has played BETTER in Prime Time games), it’s still worth noting that this was essentially the last negative narrative surrounding Cousins.
Although I did learn after posting my “Despite doing things that Teddy Bridgewater NEVER did, Cousins gets 1% the respect/credit” article, most of you hate Cousins for objectively misguided reasons. Case in point, someone commented on our Facebook page to what they deemed was a “crap” article that Cousins is an overpaid “turnover machine”. Which, um, isn’t true.
In 2018 Cousins threw for over 4,000 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. In 2019? He had a TD to Interception ratio of 26:6. He did have some early season fumbles, but that was mostly on the 27th ranked offensive line. Teddy had back-to-back 14:9 seasons during his time here. He also had back-to-back seasons with a quarterback rating of (about) 85. This year in Carolina? He’s got a QB-rating of 98. Before Monday Night? Cousins had a 97.7 rating, despite his poor start to the season. Oh, and Cousins actually has the 7th-highest average QB-rating in NFL History and is the second-most accurate QB in NFL history by almost a full percentage point over the third QB Chad Pennington.
On the season, Teddy has 13 touchdowns to 7 interceptions and a career rating of 90.7 vs. Cousins’ 96.9 and 17 touchdowns to 11 picks. As we saw last night, some of those picks aren’t on Cousins (I count at least four on the year that were throws that bounced off his receiver’s hands).
I’ve written ad nauseam about each negative narrative that Cousins has faced and knocked down during his time in Minnesota. All of which you can read here:
Cousins vs. that final negative narrative (winning a MNF game):
Everything needs to be “perfect” around him for him to succeed:
He isn’t elite/never will be MVP:
He’ll never win a playoff game:
He’ll never put the team “on his shoulders”:
How about multiple narratives at the same time?
Winning a prime time game, while putting the team on his shoulders, against a team with a better than .500 record, on the road, without Dalvin Cook doing most the work?
Despite the fact that Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph both did things they’d never done on their CAREERS Monday Night in Chicago (which I chalk up to the Soldier Field curse), Cousins bounced back multiple times and was masterful on third-down against a staunch Bears defense.
He had multiple gorgeous throws, including the first-touchdown to Thielen, and throws to Justin Jefferson that you all know deep down Teddy Bridgewater never would’ve been able to make (which is why they drafted Laquon Treadwell, as he was going to essentially be the best “run ten yards and button hook” receiver in NFL history (because, as you like to forget, that was the extent of the passing game when Teddy was here).
Come to think of it…
It was Teddy who needed Adrian Peterson to carry this team to victory more so than Cousins. It was Teddy who missed wide open receiver down the field and had a TD:INT ratio of closer to 1:1. It was Teddy who had receivers like Mike Wallace leaving to play for a “real quarterback”. Sure, Diggs also forced his way out, but he also had his first 1k yard season(s) with Kirk and became the league’s best deep threat in 2019 due to Kirk. Compare that to the Wallace situation, who ended up with 1,100 yards with a “real” quarterback in Joe Flacco the season after he left Minny.
This season, there have been other websites who have written/posted memes that essentially say things like “Cousins is making $40 million to hand the ball off to Dalvin Cook” which is A) not how much money he is making this season (it’s a little under HALF of that) and B) Not how football works. Cousins has been lethally efficient since the bye, with a nearly 80% completion rate against the Packers, three touchdown passes and no interceptions on 13 completed passes against the Lions, and nearly 70% completions Monday Night against the Bears (and a lethal third-down rate of 10/11 for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
This Vikings team suddenly has people believing again and it’s impossible to separate Cousins from that. People are talking about Justin Jefferson as the second coming of Randy Moss, but somehow remove Cousins from that equation. They look at this turn-around and three-game win streak and basically think that Cousins is some sort of overpaid game manager that is doing things that Sean Mannion could.
But when you see touchdowns like this, tell me if you really believe deep down that any QB could do this:
That looks AMAZING.
You’re a pro.
Hey, look at me…
— Sean Borman (@SeanBormanNFL) November 17, 2020
When people on other websites write columns like ‘Why Monday Night is the Biggest Game of Kirk Cousins’ Career’, even if that’s a bit much considering he did play in the playoffs last season (twice), we have to then give Cousins credit where credit is due when he was the one carrying the team last night.
People should be as relieved as they are excited right now because the Vikings proved that they can win without Dalvin doing god-level things, even when they’ve lost the turnover battle and have had the special teams snafu’s of a JV football team from Southwest Minneapolis. Monday Night had every ingredient needed to devastate the purple faithful’s hopes/dreams as well as the playoff chances/hopes for the team itself.
Time after time and mistake after mistake, Cousins rallied this offense and shook things off. That’s what leaders do and that’s what Cousins is. So, I think it’s far past time that Vikings fans started respecting Cousins because at this point he’s doing and has done things that we all prayed for FOR YEARS before-and-after Favre. He’s doing things Teddy never did and can’t do.
I’ll leave this at that but if you disagree with me I’d love to hear why in the comment section below or via our social media because I really think that the one common denominator I’ve seen in every comment boils down to his paycheck (despite the fact that his deal set the market and he is no longer the highest-paid quarterback in the league, and the fact that he is making $21 million against the cap this season).
This guy IS a winner that has overcome a lot during his career. With an improved offensive line I think we’re now just scratching the surface as to what Cousins will be able to do with all these weapons around him, and I think it’s time that people realize that Cousins is a great quarterback who, while the Vikings haven’t really put him in a position to succeed in terms of pass protection, essentially is doing things that in 2007, 2008, 2012, 2015… We all prayed for.
Prime Time Game – Check
Monday Night Football – Check
“Puts team on back” – Check
Beats a team with > .500 Record – Check
Wins on the road – Check
Wins IN Chicago – Check
Wins without Dalvin lighting the world on fire – Check
Extends plays with legs while avoiding pressure – Check
Hits receivers in stride down the field – Check
Bounces back from momentum-killing plays (Thielen INT, Rudy fumble, Kickoff return by Patterson)? Check
Gives Vikings fans hope that this team could make the post-season? Check
Is due $45 million guaranteed in 2022? Check
Actually, I think I figured it out.
According to OvertheCap.com, Cousins has the 7th-most expensive contract in the league behind Patrick Mahomes, DeShaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, and Jared Goff. That is based on the amount of guaranteed money he is due before his contract expires after the 2022 season, which is $96 million.
That means that he is slightly above Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, and Ryan Tannehill (or Jacoby Brissett, which, yeah). The strange thing about this list is that a guy like Jimmy Garoppolo, who also will be 2023 unrestricted free agent (as of the writing of this article), could end up making more than Cousins theoretically as his total contract value is $137,500,000 (with incentives). Cousins average yearly rate of $33/million is a bit misleading as he will make $45 million guaranteed in 2022, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he restructured that for the team if they were to offer him another extension beyond 2022 (especially with the upcoming blood bath that’ll be the COVID Cap unless the league steps in and stops being so damn cheap).
The way Cousins is playing? I’d say we should extend him beyond 2022 next off-season and let him retire a Viking, as this team is either in the midst of or on the precipice of something special.