Now that we know Teddy would’ve been a bust, we need Cousins more than ever
It has been said that one likes a know-it-all, and it has also been said that no one likes me. So, I have to hope a negative times a negative is a positive as I’m about to pat myself on the back so hard I’ll end up as the antagonist in the next Dan Brown novel.
Join me as we take a trip down memory lane, shall we?
The year was 2015. The month, April. After five years of rubbing most people the wrong way on Reddit’s Vikings sub, as especially then there was a significant brain-trust (I use that term loosely) that dictated the zeitgeist/hive mind and if you had the nerve to have an original thought you’d be routinely punished.
Their biggest, most aggressive hive-mindy era was the first two seasons of Teddy Bridgewater’s career. Because I had the nerve to disagree that Teddy was a Top-5 QB after two years into a pretty ho-hum career to that point.
Teddy was already a part of the team when I launched purplePTSD.com in May of that year after a drawn out debate over whether or not Trae Waynes could literally turn (I’m not joking).
Now, I want to say that I get where people’s absolutely unique love for Bridgewater came from. This is a Vikings team, after all, that hasn’t drafted and developed a franchise QB in my lifetime save for the peak Culpepper years.
Sometimes, though, you end up assigning labels to things out of need more so than objective reality. That’s why people tend to all get married in their late 20’s when they see all of their friends from high school getting married on Facebook. Everyone isn’t meeting their soul mate at 28, they’re just forcing a square peg through a “I don’t want to die alone” hole.
Hence the massive love for Teddy, which was fine. But it is when people started labeling him as “elite” after two seasons in which he had a mid-80’s rating and 14:12 and 14:9 touchdowns to interceptions. Conversations about whether Teddy was top five in the league or top three were rampant on Vikings social media despite his clear inability to make every throw on the field.
They’re a run first team, though! Was what most said, and my take on him at the time was as reviled as it was measured and realistic: He has potential to be elite, but he needs to adjust his throwing motion if he wants to be a complete quarterback.
I didn’t just manifest that, I had former Vikings quarterback Tommy Kramer on a podcast i hosted back then and he broke down Teddy’s slight side-arm motion, how it is incongruent with getting the air under the ball needed for deep passes, how to fix that, etc.
I’ve never had more death threats in my life, and I literally went to high school during the Columbine era and during a bomb threat at my high school was told they found a hit list with ten names on it: all mine.
That’s a true story.
That throwing motion issue is exactly why former Vikings wide receiver/deep threat Mike Wallace said the following after spurning a deal with the Vikings:
“When this process started, I knew that I wasn’t going back to Minnesota. I was like, ‘I need a good quarterback. I need a quarterback who I know is proven and can get things done,'” Wallace said, per the Baltimore Sun.
He walked that back, but he wasn’t wrong. He had an 1,100 yard season with Flacco and was often WIDE OPEN down the field only to be overthrown by Teddy’s line drive balls. But people blamed Wallace and looked the other way when the Vikings offense was predicated on running the ball with Adrian Peterson, and 10-15 yard button hooks to guys like Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Even Teddy’s crowning come from behind win against the Bears came from one of those button hooks, Diggs just turned that into a long TD.
That’s why the team drafted Laquon Treadwell, mr. contested catch. Who knows, had Teddy been the guy perhaps Treadwell would’ve worked out as the one-trick pony WR to Teddy’s one-trick arm.
Now that Teddy has been given the keys to the kingdom in Carolina, we’ve seen all of those issues come to pass. Teddy was benched after his second end-zone interception and from the looks of things in Panthers media? Things are over for Teddy in Carolina.
Now, I don’t actually bring this up to get an apology from nameless internet stereotypes back from the Obama administration. But rather because we just had another great season from Kirk Cousins and some people in Vikingsland refuse to do anything blame him for everything this team hasn’t accomplished since his arrival while people remember Bridgewater like the one that got away.
I was roundly mocked for my post-2020 NFL Draft … Let’s call it what it was, anger. Some people called my takes so out of left field that I was alone on an island. Those same people told me in 2016 that I was overreacting to the line issues and “the Vikings have a plan”. Hmm… They don’t even have an agreed upon technique/philosophy (scroll down), but they have a multi-year plan?
Like picking ONE actual guard in the 2020 Draft? With 15 picks they used ONE on a guard, the 15th (which was the second-to-last pick in the entire draft).
I know, a player who actually played the position before? Talk about a waste! Yes, Ezra Cleveland has looked promising at the right guard spot, but my anger after the 2020 Draft ended up being correct in that yet another EXPENSIVE season for Kirk Cousins was wasted. Another season of Adam Thielen or Harrison Smith in their prime? Wasted.
All because of the interior of the offensive line and the Zimmer-lead Vikings looking at line depth like a waste of much needed money for his… Championship level defense?
Now it’s commonplace for everyone to complain about the offensive line, which is a pretty obvious take THESE DAYS. But, it was obvious well before people treated it as such.
Despite that, and the title of this article? I’m not looking for retroactive credit but rather for people to start copying this take sooner than later…
… Kirk Cousins is everything people wanted Teddy to be.
Only in Minnesota would we angrily explain away what we’ve wanted so bad we’ve forced it on guys like Bridgewater, or Matt Cassel, or Josh Freeman.
Full disclosure: I was the first in Vikings media to call for the Vikings to go “all-in on Cousins” and I stand by that, especially considering he just had the best eight game stretch in team history.
Now, I’ve really tried to figure out the through line as to why there’s this strange contingent of people who refuse to give Cousins any cre… No, strike that. A contingent of people who BLAME Cousins for EVERYTHING that goes bad for these Vikings. Take this exercise in why people hate me as an example:
Cousins had a rough start to his season, but after the bye had a 11:10 TD to INT ratio and ended the season with a 35:13 ratio. A guy that had a 3 touchdown game every other week despite being in a run first offense. Who had a 70% or greater completion percentage in one-of-three contests despite having one of the most explosive offenses ALSO considering the run-first mantra.
The best comparison I can make between Cousins and Bridgewater’s time in Minny isn’t 2020 but rather 2019. In 2019, Cousins had 444 pass attempts and 307 completions for a 69.1% completion rate, 3,603 yards, 26 touchdowns and 6 picks (he also was throwing to Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs (although Thielen was injured for half the season)).
There were points in 2019 where Cousins was as efficient as 2018 Patrick Mahomes (his MVP year).
2015 Teddy? When he emerged as a “top five” (or was it three?) QB in the league? 447 attempts and 292 completions (for a 65.3% completion rate), 3,231 yards, 14 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
Both years the teams won double digit games (10-6 in 2019, and 11-5 in 2015) and made it to the Wild Card round of the playoffs. That’s with Teddy having the 14th best pass blocking offensive line to throw behind, where as Cousins? Let’s just put it this way, the 2019 Vikings were the 27th-ranked pass blocking unit and that was an IMPROVEMENT from 2018.
There were points in 2019 where it became some commonplace for us to bemoan then OC and 2020 Coach of the Year by many sites/sources Kevin Stefanski for not rolling Cousins out on basically every (successful) pass play.
But somehow? Cousins isn’t a “winner”.
Not to mention that regardless of who the team hires to bring in as Gary Kubiak’s replacement at OC, that’ll be an average of a new OC/system every season for Cousins, with two different OCs in his first season. That year? He just had the first 4k passing yard, 30 touchdown and 10 or less interception season in team history.
But he is the problem?
I’ve been chatting with a former Vikings offensive lineman and getting a lot of feedback regarding what a former player sees and he said, after watching tape on the Vikings line.
“Anyone that blames Kirk for what is going on is out of their mind. He had an exceptional OL when they were healthy in Washington, aside from Spencer Long, and the OL there was run by a technician in Bill Callahan. When you watched the OL there things were intentional, every single guy on the Vikings OL plays with different technique. Sometimes a certain guy will do a certain thing different to suit his abilities/skill set but here it looks like the Vikings OL doesn’t even have a coach. It looks like they get handed a piece of paper and someone says, go ahead and figure it out on your own.”
Yet. In a season where Zimmer’s defense did have a ton of injury, which is obviously worthy of note. But, the only bright spot on a team plagued with awful special teams, inexperience/injury on defense, etc. was this offense despite the bumpers put on it by Zimmer.
He is the second-or-third most accurate passer in league history, he makes every throw on the field while hitting guys in stride. He handles pressure better than we thought when he came here, he’s also more mobile than people thought.
He’s also the most consistent quarterback of the past half-decade, and for a team looking for CONSISTENCY AT THE POSITION, it’s borderline infuriating that people are still upset about what they think is still the biggest contract in NFL history and not market rate for a quarterback of his ilk. Which, by the way, is as close to the consistently top-5 level people forced Teddy into in 2015.
Because they wanted a non-40-year-old quarterback to build a team around. How many of you BEGGED for a quarterback that could even get 20 TD’s a season?
Considering that Spielman has done a TERRIBLE job pre-Cousins drafting or signing a quarterback (Ponder, Freeman, Cassel, McNabb, etc.) and there’s literally no other option for this team considering how this offense is ready NOW (not maybe two years from now if we drafted the 4th “best” QB in the 2021 Draft instead of Wyatt Davis).
Then again, I could just be looking to pat myself on the back.