The Forgotten Quality of Kirk Cousins

These Vikings Are Designed
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates after throwing a touchdown to wide receiver Adam Thielen (not pictured) during the fourth against the Indianapolis Colts quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Kirk Cousins is entering the final year of his Vikings contract. It will be his sixth season and could be his last, barring a contract extension next offseason. The player and the organization could sign a new deal at any point, but the QB implied that he doesn’t foresee any talks to be held until next year. If the two parties indeed part ways, the Vikings will surely miss one overlooked aspect of his game.

The Forgotten Quality of Kirk Cousins

Forgotten Quality of Kirk Cousins
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) celebrates the win after the game against the New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The opinions about the passer vary drastically. Many think he is just some goofy garbage time stat padder who can’t lead teams to victory. Others believe he is a great player with statistics to back it up. Narratives and numbers have always contradicted each other when it comes to Cousins. His playoff record with only one win certainly doesn’t help, but that is at least as much the fault of the teams he has been on.

The talking heads disrespecting him on a regular basis also doesn’t help clear up some of the narratives, and social media is just waiting to make fun of him when it comes to games on Mondays.

That said, he is still a decent player entering his age-35 season. His birthday is in August. Four trips to the Pro Bowl and preparing for the ninth time to enter a campaign as the starting quarterback of a franchise aren’t accidents. The annual 25-30 passing touchdowns and roughly 4,000 yards are fantastic numbers, no matter the narratives.

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Feb 5, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; NFC quarterback Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings (8) throws the balls against AFC defensive end Maxx Crosby of the Las Vegas Raiders (98) during game three of the 2023 Pro Bowl at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The qualities of the veteran are well-documented. He is a great passer and a decent decision-maker. His signature skill is that he can run a good offense to perfection, which is why great play-callers like Kyle Shanahan love him. Whatever they draw up, he is running it as well as possible. On the flip side, Cousins doesn’t create much outside of that structure — his biggest point of criticism. He doesn’t run and rarely scrambles to make a play when the pocket breaks down or the receivers are covered.

However, one part of his game that is often forgotten is his durability and reliability. The quarterback has never missed a game due to an injury. The only slight exception was when he was placed on the COVID list in 2021 and couldn’t participate in the crucial game at Lambeau Field.

In that same season, Cousins played multiple weeks with cracked ribs. The emphasis should be put on played. Others may have sat out some contests, but he did not. He is available, and that is one of his biggest strengths.

Aug 27, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings went through musical chairs in the years prior to his arrival in 2018. It was Case Keenum’s heroics in 2017 who took over as backup from Sam Bradford because of his knee injury. Bradford took the reigns from Teddy Bridgewater after he was acquired via trade when Bridgewater went down with his knee injury in 2016.

Before the first-round selection of Bridgewater, Matt Cassell started games after the demotion of Christian Ponder. We will not go further down the road of the Tavaris Jackson and Josh Freeman experiments.

Cousins brought stability to the organization after years of chaos. His backups combined for two starts, and one of them was in Week 17 of the 2019 season when the Vikes had already clinched a postseason spot.

Oct 24, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum (8) throws during the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Interestingly, the Commanders have had that chaos ever since he left. Between 2015 and 2017, the Vikings started four different QBs, Washington only one. Since 2018, Minnesota had two starting QBs, Washington 12. Twelve different starting QBs in a five-year span is an insane number.

No other quarterback has managed to play as many games as Cousins since he became the starter in 2015. He played 128 games in that span. Derek Carr and Tom Brady trail him with 126. Another season of normal Cousins production would put him in the top 20 in both all-time passing yards and touchdowns, and he did it by providing solid play and durability.

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