For the First Time Ever, Kirk Cousins Is Finally Titled ‘Winner.’

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Always a controversial figure, Kirk Cousins is the reason for endless debates and arguments on social media and in real life. The quarterback joined the Vikings in 2018 and was viewed as the missing piece, but it turned out 2017 was not repeatable despite the improved QB play.

For the First Time Ever, Kirk Cousins Is Finally Titled ‘Winner.’

Cousins has been the constant subject of narratives over the years. He doesn’t win in primetime, he doesn’t win big games, and he doesn’t win in general. Of course, he hasn’t had much success in the postseason to end those talks, although his performance in the wild-card round against the Giants was arguably one of his best games of the season.

 Is Finally Titled 'Winner'
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The argument of quarterback wins is always a strange one as it doesn’t include any nuance in the discussion and is only used against some players. In theory, better QBs win more than worse ones, and that is correct in a vacuum. Patrick Mahomes will win more games on the same team than Desmond Ridder. However, no quarterback is playing in a vacuum. Matthew Stafford won nothing in Detroit, was traded to the Rams, and suddenly was a Super Bowl champion. And why was that? Not because he improved to double his win total but because the surroundings changed.

When Cousins can’t put a team with a horrendous defense over the top (of course, that doesn’t include 2018, and to some extent 2019), that is not on him if his level of play is solid. On the flip side, if a defense is playing light out and leads a team to the Super Bowl despite subpar QB play, that QB shouldn’t get the full credit for that either. Football is a team sport, and a quarterback, although the most important player, should get some credit and blame, but far from all of it.

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The way the NFL works gave Cousins credit for 2022 and the 13-4 record because, well, it’s much easier to look at the record instead of really diving into the subject. ESPN provides the latest evidence of that. Jeremy Fowler released the NFL position rankings based on surveying players, executives, coaches, and scouts in the NFL. He collects their opinions and rankings and puts them into one big ranking for each position.

Cousins missed out on the ten best quarterbacks but made an appearance as the second of five honorable mentions. More meaningful than his positioning is his description:

In recent years, Cousins has steadily climbed up the ranking as more of a top-10 threat than middle-of-the-road passer.

His 13,033 passing yards over the past three seasons rank fourth among active NFL quarterbacks, and he’s coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl campaigns.

“You can poke holes in his game, and many do, but he’s talented, he’s accurate, and he wins,” an AFC exec said.

“If you look at his production at the end of the day, he’s really good.”

Cousins has developed tremendous chemistry with receiver Justin Jefferson. The elite duo works because Cousins doesn’t overthink it. He feeds him. Nearly 30% of the Vikings’ passing targets the past two season (351 of 1,219) have gone to Jefferson.

Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
Why Has the Vikings Pass Defense Faltered Lately?
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You can indeed poke holes in his game, and many do. Cousins is not a perfect player by any means. He lacks the mobility many offensive minds desire in the game, leading to limited plays made outside of the play’s structure. But the executive is right. Cousins is talented. He is one of the best pure passers in the game and is extremely durable, an underrated quality.

The winning part is fascinating because that is always held against him. His quarterback record is 46-33-1 since he signed with the Vikings in 2018. Only Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson collected more wins in those five years. The Vikings have won 58.1% of the games with him under center, ranking him 11th among active quarterbacks with at least 40 games. As previously explained, a record should not be a quarterback statistic. The best example is Mitchell Trubisky, who ranks higher than Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, Cousins, Jalen Hurts, and Russell Wilson.

Cousins enters the 2023 season in the final year of the contract. Talks about an extension are paused and will not resume until next offseason. Another successful season in personal play and team record will be crucial for Cousins to earn another deal.

Vikings Face Need for Kirk
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A potential improvement on the offensive side of the ball is possible. The Vikings replaced Adam Thielen by selecting his successor Jordan Addison in the first round of the draft. His development will be meaningful.

It will also be the first time since 2016 for Cousins to have the same offensive coordinator in consecutive years. The second season in Kevin O’Connell’s scheme should also lead to some improvements, as the QB struggled with it last season, as the Netflix documentary ‘Quarterbacks’ revealed.

Cousins will turn 35 in August, and it will be another season for the QB trying to prove folks wrong.

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