Minnesota Vikings history is filled to the brim with heart-in-the-right-place half-truth optimism when it comes to the team and especially the position of quarterback. For a team that had until recently not started the same quarterback in all 16-games in back-to-back seasons, nor draft and develop one, clear incomplete passers like Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum, and now Kellen Mond (if he was “erratic” when throwing deep in college, how can he do the same in the pros?) are elevated to mythic status far too soon.
Again, it comes from an understandable place. It’s wishful thinking from a fan-base who has been starved for the most important position in all of pro sports, save for a few one foot in-the-retirement grave players like Brett Favre, Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham.
Enter Kirk “I get paid market rate for my services” Cousins. He’s everything that you’d expect Vikings fans to fawn over. But he isn’t, although the objectively wrong takes on him have reduced in that context as Cousins proves he’s been masterful a majority of the time on a team with much larger issues.
I’ve discussed the “Never Cousins-ers” in the fan-base ad nauseam and while it’s always good fodder for clicks (which if you were to believe those from the #BillsMafia message board community, are why I cover the same news everyone else does?), that’s not the topic of today’s piece.
A good representation of my NC takes came up on this week’s The VikingsTerritory Breakdown, our KDLM Sports radio show.
Today I wanted to address the consistent disrespect that Cousins gets from his peers. Some of it is transparent, a la RG “I got replaced by Cousins and so if he’s a bum what does that make ME?!” III, who has (only) hand his name in the news recently by bad mouthing Cousins.
“Yeah, I can tell you that No. 8 in Minnesota is not real happy right now,” Griffin said. “Because Kellon Mond represents exactly what he doesn’t do well. Kellon Mond is the big, physical quarterback. He can run it, throw it all over the field, and I don’t think that’s something that No. 8 is able to do in Cousins in Minnesota. But, I think that’s what the coaching staff and administration is looking for.”
Kellon Mond can “throw it all over the field”? Um. Not according to NFL.com:
Then you have players like Justin “I just had the best modern NFL rookie season ever thanks to balls delivered in stride and perfectly from Cousins and despite playing in a run first/super risk averse/dink-and-dunk offense.
RGIII is one thing. It’s as laughable as subjective. But for Jefferson to answer that way about Cousins while on a nationally distributed television show (which mostly exists because Colin Cowherd needs an alibi in betwixt serial murders (I presume from his unblinking vibe)) after the season he just had is a gigantic red flag and needs to be addressed by the team itself.
Far be it for a member of the media to decry a player not responding with the typical highly coached football speak we all decry, but this isn’t great for… Anyone. Now, I’m sure some of you are ready to comment that Cousins is a grown man that makes good money to be held to a high standard but I don’t mean that the team needs to address this for the sake of Cousins’ feelings.
I mean that they need to do so before Jefferson turns into Stefon Diggs 2.0, unless that has already happened. I once fired a (still, somehow) popular Vikings social media personality because (among other things) kept unplayfully mocking the content of his peers on social media. I repeatedly requested that he tone it down as we already get enough/mostly negativity from people from outside our writing team.
The same thing goes with Jefferson, Cousins and the Vikings. Clearly Cousins is getting it from all angles. One of those angles shouldn’t also be his teammates. Why? Because that sort of animosity can poison a locker room and if Jefferson and Cousins aren’t on the same page or if the “jokes”Tweets like “Jefferson solidifies zero targets in 2021l this are evenly remotely true? That’s terrible news for the team.
Cousins doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who will insert his emotions into his reads (like “Well Jet is wide open but he hurted my feel-dings”), but the fact that he has to ignore those comments and feelings are an issue.
The Vikings seemingly lucked out when they unloaded and replaced Diggs for the on the field upgrade that is Jefferson. Let’s hope that we can continue to say that they also upgraded off the field as the team needs the offense to enter the elite arena in 2021 and these sort of self-made distractions don’t help.
He’s also dead wrong. Jefferson wasn’t a part of the game plan during Weeks 1 & 2, but after that was an increasing part that was able to break the above referenced records courtesy of Cousins’ courage under fire, mobility, efficiency and accuracy.
The viral hot mic moment of Jefferson yelling at/about Cousins is a perfect microcosm of this situation as Cousins’ pocket collapsed almost instantly from the right side, which meant Cousins had to rollout to the left and throw across his body while doing so.
Jefferson couldn’t have seen/known that, but that’s why you give your QB the benefit of the doubt. That was written off as a “heat of the moment” from a “fierce competitor”. The Cowherd interview wasn’t heat of the moment, though.
Let’s hope that this will be addressed and end up as a one off in the long career of Jefferson in Minny. Because if his hubris continues it can only mean bad things for the Vikings, especially when he gets what he apparently wants and trades in Cousins’ Top 2-3 ALL-TIME accuracy for Mond’s “diminishing returns”.