Possible Potency of Kirk Cousins in a Kevin O’Connell Offense Picks Up Steam

Primetime Measuring Stick for Minnesota
Jun 8, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In March, when a decision on Kirk Cousins’ future was nearing for the Minnesota Vikings, the franchise could’ve traded the quarterback as a no-trade clause was not present in his contract.

Instead, new general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah re-signed Cousins, added an additional year to the deal, and slapped a no-trade clause onto the agreement. Cousins will now lead the Vikings through the end of the 2023 season unless Adofo-Mensah trades Cousins to a destination of his choosing next spring.

And while not all Vikings fans cherished the idea of more Cousins, onlookers have warmed up to the possible potency of Cousins inside a Kevin O’Connell offense. O’Connell was hired by Adofo-Mensah in February after the former quarterback offensively coordinated the Los Angeles Rams to a Super Bowl victory. O’Connell worked with Cousins in Washington five years ago, which figured to be one of the selling points for O’Connell as the Vikings new skipper.

Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Even folks outside of Vikings fandom and media circles are taking notice of Cousins’ potential in a new system. Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report tweeted on Tuesday, “I know it sounds off the wall because he’s criticized a ton on this app, but I think Kirk Cousins will hit another level with Kevin O’Connell’s fresh outlook for the Vikings offense.”

Moton also predicted big numbers for the Vikings 2022 offense led by Cousins, “Count me in as someone who thinks the Vikings will have a top-5 scoring offense in 2022.”

He even dedicated an entire article to the Vikings “juggernaut” capability this September.

Overall, for those optimistic about Cousins pairing with O’Connell, there is a singular ceiling — allowing O’Connell to unlock Cousins as he and Sean McVay did with Matthew Stafford in Los Angeles. Plain and simple, that is the utopian scenario.

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Kevin O’Connell and Matthew Stafford

Before Stafford trekked to Hollywood, he was a career “loser” held back by an underperforming Detroit Lions franchise. He just needed a change of scenery to flourish — was the working theory by the Rams during the Stafford trade. McVay, O’Connell, and most importantly, Stafford were vindicated within one year. The Rams outlasted the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl, and now Stafford’s legacy is immortalized.

Cousins isn’t even a “loser” like Stafford was at this time last year. The Lions were 74-90-1 (.451) with Stafford at the helm, whereas the Washington Commanders and Vikings are 59-59-2 (.500) with Cousins as QB1.

To date, Cousins has started 120 games. Here’s the statistical comparison of his first 120 starts to Stafford’s first 120:

Stafford, in First 120 Starts:
33,313 Passing Yards
61.6% Completion Pct
208 Passing TDs
114 INTs
87.7 Passer Rating

Cousins, in First 120 Starts:
32,099 Passing Yards
67.0% Completion Pct
219 Passing TDs
87 INTs
99.0 Passer Rating

Therefore, the gap isn’t vast — and even favors Cousins by the numbers.

And that’s probably why folks like Moton have no problem envisioning a Stafford-esque ascension from Cousins with a new, tailor-made offense.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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