NFC North QB Predictions: Kirk Cousins
2. Kirk Cousins, Vikings
If you follow Vikings Twitter, you would think Kirk Cousins is either a bum or the franchise’s savior. Cousins is a polarizing player; he is very good but not elite. Almost all “expert” analysis of quarterbacks plops Cousins smack dab in the middle each season    . There is definitely an underrated element to Cousins, however.
Cousins has finished 9th in each of the last two seasons according to NFL statistics guru PFF’s algorithms, even though PFF itself projected Cousins as the league’s 14th and 15th best quarterback leading into 2021 and 2022, respectively   . Maybe it’s time they start paying attention to their own data.
Enough semantics. Kirk gets to turn over a new leaf this season (again) after the Zimmer reign of terror ended this offseason. Cousins is no stranger to change: 2022 will bring the fifth offensive coordinator in his five seasons with the Vikings and seventh in seven years overall. Either that says Kirk is hard to work with, not very good, or has just had bad luck. This season is a little different than the previous six; he’s not only getting an offensive-minded head coach who just won a Super Bowl as an OC, but he’s getting a familiar face in Kevin O’Connell, Cousins’ QB coach in 2017
The arrivals of O’Connell and new offensive coordinator Wes Phillips bring warranted hope for a Vikings fanbase desperate for sustained success. The offensive architects of the reigning Super Bowl champs will look to continue Sean McVay’s line of successful apprentices to go out on their own.
That sustained success needs to start with the quarterback position. However, many question marks await the new tandem looking to elevate number 8’s game. The offensive line, a pain point for years in the Twin Cities, looks to have improved slightly but is still shaky. If the line can hold long enough, Cousins *should* have enough weapons to distribute the ball to. A Dalvin Cook-led backfield is top-tier and deep: Alexander Mattison held his own when filling in for the Pro-Bowl tailback, and Kene Nwangwu is a big play waiting to happen. Outside of Justin Jefferson, there are many uncertainties with Cousins’ pass-catchers. Will Adam Thielen’s aging body hold up? Can K.J. Osborn build on his 2021 breakout? What can they get out of a 30-year-old Albert Wilson? How much can be expected out of Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Jalen Nailor, and a finally-healthy Irv Smith Jr.? And can we get a backup tight end, please?
Kirk has dealt with bad offensive lines before, and he’s handled new leadership just fine over the years. With health and continued growth from many of his primary weapons, a standard solid season is likely in the cards for the Vikings’ signal-caller. But the only thing that every Vikings fan cares about is whether it will be enough to lead their Skol squad deep into the postseason.
Kirk will have the same number of interceptions as the Vikings will have wins: the more aggressive he is in a passer-friendly offense, the better the club will be (remember Week 11 against the Packers?).
Will is a husband, father of two, and a lifelong Minnesotan. He earned an undergraduate degree in Economics (just like Kwesi Adofo-Mensah). He became a Vikings fan in 2009 when Brett Favre stole his heart. Will’s favorite pastimes are water skiing, Minnesota sports, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Follow him on Twitter (@willbadlose) and find his other sports content at Twins Daily and his very own Bad Loser Blog.