Kirk Cousins Called a Top Tier Quarterback

3 Takeaways from Vikings
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) runs onto the field before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

For some reason, the debates about Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins are getting louder every year in the off-season when no football is played. That doesn’t stop folks on social media and Vikings-themed media from arguing about the passer. Some absurd comments and opinions can be found in those debates.

There is some disrespect happening in national media. The best example was when the Vikings had their insane comeback against the Colts, where he threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns after halftime, and the narrative was that he didn’t do much. However, most objective folks would say he is a non-elite quarterback but also better than average. The statistics usually prove that year in and year out.

Kirk Cousins Called a Top Tier Quarterback

All kinds of different rankings appear in the off-season. Some are more notable than others. PFF ranked all QBs based on their level of play in 2022.

Kirk Cousins Called a Top Tier Quarterback
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

PFF takes into account multiple different statistics, and of course, their own metrics are heavily featured: “With the 2022 season finally over, it’s time to look back at some key metrics at the quarterback position, including PFF WAR (wins above replacement), EPA (expected points added) per pass, PFF grades and a consensus ranking from PFF’s lead passing-game analysts.”

In those rankings, PFF has Cousins as the seventh-best quarterback in the 2022 season. He’s only trailing Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, and Justin Herbert.

Cousins ranked fourth in PFF’s metric wins above replacement or WAR. Interestingly, that statistic never liked Cousins. On the other hand, Cousins ranked 17th in EPA/Play, which drags his ranking a little.

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Oct 16, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) shakes hands with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports.

Mahomes, Burrow, and Allen are the three passers that made the elite tier. The three are arguably the top quarterbacks in the game, and there shouldn’t be any objection unless someone wants Mahomes to get his own tier at the top of the list.

The remaining seven QBs of the top 10 made the group named the top tier. Obviously, the seventh-ranked quarterback, Cousins, made it.

Kirk Cousins will raise more eyebrows at this spot, but he consistently grades well and ranks highly in PFF WAR but suffers in EPA per pass and PFF analyst ranking. Cousins has his limitations with lack of mobility, and he shied away from targeting star wideout Justin Jefferson in the fourth quarter of the wild-card playoff game against the New York Giants, resulting in a disappointing end to the Minnesota Vikings’ season.

John Kosko, PFF

Cousins will only raise the eyebrows of those who don’t follow enough of his games. He’s playing at about a top-ten level every season and is extremely reliable and consistent. His 4,000 passing yards and about 30 touchdowns are an annual tradition.

Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) run onto the field for warmup prior to their game against the Washington Commanders at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

The limitations, especially the lack of mobility, are a well-known problem. His arm is as good as anyone’s, but he is a true pocket passer. That does bring some advantages but also costs him the opportunity to extend plays with his legs.

The criticism Cousins faced for the playoff loss has been really unfair. He arguably played his best game of the season, and other parts of the team clearly let the organization down. On the infamous fourth down, the offensive line broke down, the receivers couldn’t get open, and the play call might not have been the best. Nevertheless, Cousins could’ve thrown a jump ball to someone.

Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The thought process was evident. He wanted to give Hockenson a chance to break a tackle, something he had done a few times in that game. It didn’t work out, but the unfair part is that Cousins’ phenomenal performance has been totally forgotten, and the Vikings certainly didn’t lose the contest on that one play.

Cousins facilitated eight fourth-quarter comebacks and eight game-winning drives, exorbitant numbers throughout the season. He was a crucial part of one of the most resilient teams in NFL history, a team that never gave up, even when it was down 33 points at halftime. He finished the season with 4,547 passing yards and 29 passing touchdowns. The consequence was an invite to his fourth Pro Bowl.

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Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) gets instructions from head coach Kevin O’Connell. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings will enter their sixth season with the passer. He will turn 35 years old before the season begins, and the front office and coaching staff should start the search for a successor soon, potentially even in this off-season.

GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell claimed he would be the starter in 2023. Another extension, short or long-term, could be on the table in the next few weeks, as it would save some cap space prior to the arrival of the new league year when the teams have to be under the salary cap.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt