The ‘Front and Center’ Version of Vikings QB1

The 'Front and Center' Version of Vikings QB1
Kirk Cousins

They advertised it, and you’re getting it.

When the Minnesota Vikings hired new head coach Kevin O’Connell to replace Mike Zimmer, the former Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator promised quarterback Kirk Cousins would be allowed to lead — as “normal” quarterbacks do in 2022.

The process is underway.

Cousins was onboarded by the Vikings in 2018, leading the franchise to the playoffs just once in four seasons. As a result, Minnesota’s ownership cut ties with the general manager and head coach while the new regime retained Cousins, who they evidently didn’t associate with the mediocrity problem.

In fact, new boss Kwesi Adofo-Mensah extended Cousins by an extra year, keeping the passer with the franchise through the end of 2023.

Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer

O’Connell was Cousins’ quarterback coach with the Washington Commanders and, like many other members of the Shanahan Coaching Tree, subscribes to the ability of Cousins. On separate occasions, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, and O’Connell have praised Cousins as a quarterback they’d like to have run an offense.

Still, some Vikings fans are convinced Shanahan, McVay, O’Connell, and now Adofo-Mensah are all wrong, doubling-down on their personal notions that Cousins is a “.500 quarterback.” Such is life, and such is the debate with anything related to Cousins.

Strangely, in 2021, the departed Zimmer began meeting with Cousins regularly to discuss the offense, a new sitdown that dripped with first-time vibes. Fans of the team wondered out loud, “Why are the quarterback and head coach just now starting to mesh, some four years into the experiment?”

Sep 26, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Zimmer was heavily-focused on defense, leaving the offensive side of operations to various offensive coordinators who revolved in and out of the Vikings headquarters. Only during a tell-all year — one that ended in Zimmer’s termination — did the quarterback and coach begin one-on-one chats. Bizarre.

Now, though, the inverse is in motion for the Vikings. O’Connell and Cousins appear linked at the hip — as are most skippers and QB1s. It’s how the world works nowadays, especially in an offense-driven league.

The “he’s sitting front and center each meeting” quote from the Tomasson tweet is a development that should’ve occurred in the spring of 2018, not 2022.

Overall, this is why the coaching staff was refurbished this offseason — to get with the times. Cousins, with O’Connell’s blessing, can carry the front-and-center or take-the-reins torch in 2022.

After all, Cousins is the eighth highest-paid quarterback in the world per average annual salary. He should’ve been given the front-and-center greenlight four years ago.


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).