Kirk Cousins Embraces the Leadership Role

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.

Leadership is an essential quality of successful teams in the NFL. A player like Tom Brady can go to any franchise and win because of his on-field contributions but also because of his leadership skills in the locker room. His teams always rallied around him. The Vikings lost some key figures in the offseason in terms of leadership, but they still have some left.

Kirk Cousins Embraces the Leadership Role

Kirk Cousins Embraces the Leadership Role
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.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins is always in the focus of media and fans, often as a punching bag, blamed for the team’s shortcomings. For some reason, his leadership has often been questioned without evidence suggesting a lack of those qualities. Teammates have always praised him in that regard.

Nevertheless, Cousins now reportedly took charge of the team during a 30-minute speech. Steve Wyche reported on NFL Network:

Thursday after practice, Kirk Cousins for the first time this offseason addressed the team. And I had a coach and I had a player who told me it was 30 minutes of riveting conversation where Cousins kind of bared his soul much like he did in the quarterback documentary. He talked about his journey coming into the league as a backup and how he stayed the course and then he got into a routine, lift weights a certain day, drink a certain amount of water every day. Just certain things he did so he would keep his sanity and know he would get better.

He talked about ‘guys you can lead up.’ And as we saw in the quarterback documentary, there’s a scene where he was having trouble getting the plays out, there were lengthy play calls and backup Nick Mullens said: ‘Record the play call into your phone and when you’re riding in your car, play back your play-call.’ Kirk Cousins retold last night for his teammates who haven’t watched the documentary and some of them haven’t. And that’s an example of leading up because Nick Mullens didn’t have to share that. He is the backup. He could’ve been envious or whatever and said, I’m not going to help the starter.

What Cousins said is these are the types of things that this team needs to succeed. You can be a kick returner, you can do whatever. Help the next man succeed and as a whole team, they’ll grow together. And again, I can not emphasize enough that people who told me about this said it was absolutely riveting. The fact that Kirk Cousins, one of the oldest guys on the team, was touching guys who just came into the league with this message so they were like ‘This is our leader. This is a righteous guy that we wanna get behind, no matter what.

Steve Wyche
Dec 13, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) greet after the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Besides the obvious on-field talent, leadership is the most crucial quality of a quarterback. Cousins shows that he totally embraces that role. With the departure of captains Eric Kendricks, Patrick Peterson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook, that is a necessary thing.

Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn each spoke about their approach of helping the young guys in the room, replacing Thielen. Josh Metellus is stepping up as a leader despite not having a starting job, but even Harrison Smith raved about the 25-year-old and his football IQ.

Cousins will be an important figure within the organization in 2023 as his offense is the driving force of the team, a team with a struggling defense. It will be his passes to Jefferson and the other weapons leading the team in the effort to repeat the NFC Championship.

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.

However, the NFC North title is not the goal for the Vikings, as Cousins recently stated. He doesn’t think good is good enough anymore.

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.

Kirk Cousins

The Detroit Lions are favored to win the NFC North despite the Vikings’ strong record in 2023. If the team rallies behind Cousins and his mindset while the offense keeps improving in the second year in the system with Brian Flores igniting the defense, they won’t make life easy for the Lions.

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