Kirk Cousins Is Surprisingly Different in 2022

Kirk Cousins is in his fifth year as the Vikings quarterback. Over that time, he has been under extreme scrutiny from the media and fans for his inability to come up big when the moment calls for it. So much so that many fans were and maybe still are ready to boot him to the curb.

However, Cousins is surprisingly different in 2022. Little tweaks in how he has played have allowed him to produce in the biggest. He is more willing to improvise and use his feet. He has also been forcing the ball down the field more than in previous years.

His newfound aggressiveness has led to fewer touchdowns and more interceptions. In fact, this is the worst statistical year since becoming a Viking.

  • Yards per game – 261.78
  • TD/INT ratio – 1.75
  • Completion % – 64.1%

However, his aggressiveness has also helped the Vikings come out with wins. This was noticeable in the Bills game. A few specific plays exemplify what he is doing this year that has been missing since he came to Minnesota. Let’s take a look at them.

Cousins’ Ability to Navigate Pocket is a God Send for Vikings

Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is hit by Washington Commanders defensive end Montez Sweat. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

The number one best improvement for Kirk Cousins in 2022 has been his ability to navigate the pocket. The other is his ability to improvise when things are not going right. These are probably the two most criticized portions of Cousins’ game.

The other criticism is his collapsing nature in prime-time games, like against the Eagles. However, we are going to focus on the positives. Besides, the Eagles game can be chalked up as “still learning the new scheme.”

In the video above, provided by Nick Olson, there are a few plays that I want to highlight. The first one comes at the 40-second mark. There is a screen to the left that gets annihilated. Instead of panicking and bailing on the play, Cousins rolls to his right and finds Thielen for a big gain and first down.

The very next play is a thing of beauty. Honestly, it is something we have come to expect from the likes of Mahomes and Allen but not so much from Cousins. Von Miller beats O’Neill with an inside pass rush. Cousins has some nifty footwork to escape the pressure, then avoid more pressure from Ed Oliver. After all that, he throws a rope to Osborn on the sideline while getting hit.

Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports.

The last play might be my favorite throw from him the entire game. It was in OT, and Jefferson ran a corner route while being double-covered. There is absolutely no reason for Cousins to throw this ball, but he does. He drops it right over the top of the underneath defender, where only Jefferson can catch the ball. Absolutely masterful.

These three plays would likely never have occurred over the previous four years. However, KOC has freed Cousins’ mind from worrying about making mistakes. KOC continues to tell Cousins to push the ball down the field and to go win games.

These plays from Cousins are not a fluke either. He can sustain this type of play, and we, as fans, should expect him to do so.

Mitch Massman is a lifelong Vikings fan. His first heartbreak was the 1998 NFC championship game. His full-time job is as an economic development professional in rural Minnesota. He fantasizes about the Vikings winning a Super Bowl one day, but until then he will write about the Vikings. Follow him on Twitter @skol_vikings3