Former TE Reignites ‘Cousins Debate’

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins did a curious thing in 2022; he traded his typical impressive stats for team wins — and most of them by a one-score margin.

When the Vikings were cruising last November, with an 8-1 record after toppling the Buffalo Bills at home, Cousins began seriously winning over a divided fanbase. The 34-year-old was frequently called a quarterback “who couldn’t get it done in close games,” and all he was doing was getting it done in close games.

Former TE Reignites ‘Cousins Debate’

Then, the good favor collapsed two months later. The Vikings were bounced in a home playoff game by the underwhelming New York Giants, Minnesota’s defense was shredded like an electric guitar, and Cousins infamously didn’t convert a 4th and 8 play.

Former TE Reignites
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Fast forward three months after the Vikings playoff discomfiture, and Cousins is failing to rank in former NFLers’ Top 10 quarterback rankings. What a world. The 33rd Team‘s Clay Harbor unveiled his NFC QB Top 10 pecking for 2023, and Cousins was blatantly omitted:

  1. Jalen Hurts
  2. Justin Fields
  3. Daniel Jones
  4. Brock Purdy
  5. Matthew Stafford
  6. Jared Goff
  7. Dak Prescott
  8. Geno Smith
  9. Kyler Murray
  10. Jordan Love

Nowhere to be found for Cousins — couldn’t even oust Jordan Love, whose toolkit includes one career start [where he played horribly].

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-OTA
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports.

Thankfully, like rankings for teams or quarterbacks in April, they’re rather meaningless. Most non-Eagles and non-Jaguars fans didn’t know who Harbor was until his QB tweet. Cousins, Love, or any of the combatants could show up in September and blow Harbor’s list to smithereens — with great play or dastardly performance.

If the rankings used last year’s statistics as a barometer, Cousins would rank close to the middle. The list also omitted Derek Carr, who’s now in charge of the New Orleans Saints. These are Harbor’s rankings per 2022 quarterback metrics, including Pro Football Focus grade, EPA+CPOE, DVOA, and Passer Rating.

Clay Harbor’s NFC QBs,
PFF | EPA+CPOE | DVOA | PRating,
2022 Rankings,

with Carr, Cousins:

Hurts: 4 | 3 | 10 | 5
Purdy: 13 | 5 | 5 | 1
Smith: 9 | 7 | 12 | 6
Goff: 20 | 9 | 4 | 7
Prescott: 21 | 8 | 11 | 13
Cousins: 9 | 17 | 17 | 12
Jones: 17 | 12 | 20 | 16
Carr: 27 | 21 | 19 | 25
Murray: 25 | 23 | 22 | 24
Stafford: 26 | 25 | 24 | 23
Fields: 23 | 24 | 34 | 26
Love: n/a

Playoff Loss Still Stings
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

All 2023 predictive rankings, especially regarding NFC quarterbacks, will be zany. Will Cousins improve with playcaller continuity for the first time in ages? Can Matthew Stafford bounce back? Does Justin Fields mature into a passer more so than a runner? How long is Kyler Murray out? Is Brock Purdy a one-hit wonder? How long is Jared Goff sustainable? Will Dak Prescott ever get off the schneid?

Mr. Harbor believes Cousins won’t even be in the discourse — and he’s probably wrong.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by