When it comes to Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, there is definitely a groundswell of detractors. They all say that Cousins can’t get it done when the lights shine the brightest.
They say that Minnesota can’t win the big one with him under center. And the heavy defeat against the Eagles on Monday night left Vikings fans triggered on criticizing the QB.
The simple fact of the matter is that those detractors aren’t exactly short on examples of why he may not be “the guy” in Minnesota. With the team considered to be a Super Bowl dark horse, the question begs to ask again: can they win with Kirk Cousins?
The Elephant in the Room
It isn’t just a matter of whether or not the Vikings can win with Cousins under center. The question is whether they should pay him as one of the top quarterbacks in the league. He signed a one-year extension worth $35 million fully guaranteed prior to this season, making him a Viking through 2023.
That said, is he worth the large extension that comes with the territory of being an upper-echelon NFL quarterback? That likely means more than $40 million annually, a hefty contribution to say the least.
Cousins is considered to be a quarterback that needs pieces in place to be effective. If he is eating up a large portion of the salary cap, can he be good enough to compensate when other players of quality cannot be retained?
How Cousins plays this season could be a big indicator of whether or not he sticks around. The Vikings, if they fail to go deep into the playoffs, could decide that he isn’t it and cut bait. It would be difficult to move on from his solid numbers, but solid numbers only go so far.
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) September 12, 2022
Can They Win?
Despite their pre-season expectations, there are real questions about whether or not the Vikings can win with Cousins under center. Considering he has been with the team for four years and has only seen the playoffs once, that is a genuine concern.
The team is coming off of an 8-9 performance last year; not exactly something that would set expectations through the roof. But there is a lot of talent on the team that can’t be ignored.
On the offensive side in particular, there are few teams not only in the NFC but the league at large that have the kind of talent Minnesota does. Dalvin Cook is believed to be a top-5 back in the league, capable of breaking off huge runs or catching passes out of the backfield.
Adam Thielen has managed to fly under the radar despite being one of the most productive receivers in the league the last five years. He has become a safety valve of sorts for Cousins and an excellent second option.
Justin Jefferson became a breakout star last year and may be arguably the best wideout in the league heading into this year. He has explosive run-after-the-catch potential and will likely be among the statistical leaders at the position when the season is out.
Kirk Cousins couldn't have thrown a better ball here 😬 pic.twitter.com/Y9fqwccRoV
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) September 20, 2022
The Eye Test
On paper, Cousins is one of, if not the best quarterback in the history of the franchise. He puts up the numbers every year and is consistently among the top quarterbacks in the league in yards and touchdowns.
Still, both fans of the franchise and those who have watched Cousins from afar know that “on paper” only goes so far. There is the eye test that all great quarterbacks must pass, and it is uncertain if Cousins fits that bill.
Sometimes he looks elite. He puts up great numbers and can make all the throws. Other times, he gets happy feet and makes a bone-headed throw that you can’t believe. He hasn’t exactly managed to thrive in pressure situations, either.
Again, the Vikings have made the playoffs just once in their career. He sports a very average 122-117 career record as well, indicating that he has yet to be so special that he can elevate the teams he plays for.
There are times in big-pressure situations when he makes puzzling decisions and throws. All it takes is a big interception to send the Vikings home from a big playoff matchup. The question becomes whether Cousins can work through those criticisms because they have so far proven to be more than fair.
Kirk Cousins now owns the worst record in the NFL on Monday nights pic.twitter.com/r7koKnkDDd
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) September 20, 2022
What the Future Holds
This is a make-or-break season for both Cousins and the Vikings. They have more talent than they have had in years and all the pieces seem to be in place for them to make a run towards a division title and a lot more.
A lot of that rides on the arm of Cousins. On paper, he appears to be all that they could ask for and more. But “on paper” doesn’t always translate to results on the field.
Kirk Cousins had a poor overall night, but he had a couple great throws to Irv Smith Jr. — the dropped deep ball and this one in the fourth quarter: pic.twitter.com/JHlljDQUHP
— Will Ragatz (@WillRagatz) September 20, 2022
Credits on Featured Image: All-Pro Reels