Kirk Cousins: “Good Isn’t What We’re Chasing Here”

Kirk Cousins on Release of Dalvin Cook & What He Sees In New-Look Defense During Minicamp. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center during 2023 NFL Mandatory Minicamp.

Coming off an unexpected 13-4 season in the first year under new head coach Kevin O’Connell, the Minnesota Vikings still aren’t considered a real contender. Part of that is because of the playoff exit in the wild-card round, and the departure of some franchise staples is viewed as a big deal — for good reason. But quarterback Kirk Cousins doesn’t accept ‘good’ anymore.

Kirk Cousins: “Good Isn’t What We’re Chasing Here”

Chasing Here"
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Cousins himself is always seen as an average or good but not great quarterback, and that opinion is pretty universal. Now appearing on KFAN, he was asked about the 2023 Vikings team by play-by-play announcer Paul Allen who thinks the team is good, especially on offense. “Don’t you think this is a good football team?”

Certainly. It is key to have high expectations as players – of yourself, of your unit, rather than just settling for being good but to really focus on being great. And knowing to do that, your practices, your preparation, your training camp needs to be at that level.

There are times when players may walk off the field and think they had a ‘good practice’ and they are doing a ‘good job’ and you have to reframe the expectation. Good isn’t what we’re chasing here. We’re chasing great. We’re chasing a championship level and that requires a different standard and what you did today, while you may feel was good enough, it really wasn’t because the standard is much higher.

I think challenging a standard to reach that may be even higher than they may think, is a big part of training camp and the team coming together is a big part of training camp. I think that each player has their own process to go through in camp.

The guy who is now the 75th guy on the roster is fighting for a roster spot. The guy who is 5th on the roster is not fighting for a roster spot, he is fighting for a world championship. So there’s different approaches to training camp within the locker room itself and each player needs to be a pro and do what they have to do to maximize these practices we’re given.

Kirk Cousins
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A great football team needs excellent players in every position, a skilled coaching staff, and an exceptional quarterback. Football is a team sport where every player plays a crucial role, whether it’s on offense, defense, or special teams. Even a single weak link in the team can lead to a defeat, which can be costly.

Preparation is key, and Cousins demands greatness from his team, which is a fantastic sight. Holding his team accountable is exactly what the great QBs do. Tom Brady and Joe Montana didn’t accept okay.

The offense should be hitting on all cylinders come season time, as most of the group is returning. Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook are no longer on the team, but age has been a factor for both. Alexander Mattison is ready to take over the starting role, and perhaps one of his backups can surprise folks.

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Rookie Jordan Addison is envisioned to replace Thielen. The refined prospect is foreseen to hit the ground running after having a productive college career in two different systems on two different programs.

2023 will also be the first time Cousins has worked with the same offensive coordinator in consecutive seasons since 2016. The Netflix show ‘Quarterback’ showed that he still struggled with the playbook halfway through the season, but he should be more comfortable in the second campaign with Kevin O’Connell calling the plays.

Brian Flores was hired to oversee the necessary defensive overhaul. Great teams don’t have bad defenses. That is not how the sport works. He has seen greatness up close when he was the linebacker coach in New England. Flores worked under Bill Belichick for 11 years before becoming the Miami Dolphins’ head coach.

Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores in Miami Gardens, September 15, 2019. © Allen Eyestone via Imagn Content Services, LLC.

Often seen as a tough coach, the players still love him. He must work around some personnel issues. The Vikings offense certainly has more talent and will be why the team wins games. However, he must lift his unit to be an average group if the Vikings want to have a chance to fulfill Cousins’ demanded level of greatness.

Besides a higher level of comfort in the playbook and with O’Connell, Cousins can certainly improve his on-field game in a few spots to reach his goal of greatness in himself. Continuing to try to make the big plays happen should be a big point of emphasis.

The best example was the second half of the comeback win against the Buffalo Bills, in which Cousins passed into tight windows on seemingly all throws, but he must do it while limiting the turnovers after throwing 14 interceptions in 2022. Aggressiveness and ball security must be balanced.

Bills Ed Oliver pressures Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins. © JAMIE GERMANO / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Another criticism usually aimed in his direction is the lack of creativity during broken plays. Granted, Cousins will not suddenly turn into Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers and become an elite scrambler because that is not his strength, but a slight improvement can keep the offense on the field on a couple of more occasions a game, which should lead to more points.

Having the same system and some electric weapons around him will help. T.J. Hockenson is currently spending his first offense in Minnesota. Of course, Justin Jefferson returns as the first option and Cousins’ favorite target.

Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill provide excellent protection on the edge; solely the line’s interior requires some significant improvement to provide perfect circumstances for the veteran passer. The offense seems ready for greatness. The defense is a mystery, but it has an excellent coach in charge. If the team can actually reach that level remains to be seen, but the foundation will be laid in training camp.

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