Time For Kirk Cousins to Silence His Haters
The time is here. For 18 weeks of NFL football, we’ve argued about the legitimacy of the 2022-23 Minnesota Vikings. Are they lucky or are they good? Contender or pretender? On Sunday afternoon, we’ll finally get some answers to the questions that surround this team.
That includes arguably the most important and controversial question: ‘How good is Kirk Cousins?’
If you ask national football pundits about the Vikings’ QB1, the answer is, ‘not very’. Because across mainstream sports media outlets, the disrespect for Cousins is palpable. For example, Dan Orlovsky (ESPN) ranked Kirk as the 12th best QB (of 14) in this year’s tournament, behind both Geno Smith and Daniel Jones.
Is Kirk Cousins A Top Ten QB? @BarstoolBigCat doesn't believe so.— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) January 14, 2023
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Kirk Cousins cannot win with national pundits
For years, Kirk Cousins has been criticized for putting up empty individual numbers, always near the front of his peers statistically but rarely winning enough to make the postseason. He struggled mightily in primetime and in late-game situations.
This year, however, Cousins flipped the script. The Vikings won 13 games and Kirk led a league-leading 8 game-winning drives. Out of nowhere, Cousins turned into the most clutch QB in football. But, his individual numbers, especially in terms of efficiency, fell across the board.
Instead of praising the 34-year-old quarterback for finally putting wins over individual stats, however, his haters took aim at everything else. They pointed to the advantage Justin Jefferson brings and ripped Cousins for throwing the 2nd most interceptions in the NFL and for his career low QBR. Just like that, individual numbers matter all of a sudden. Weird how that works.
Winning was the only thing that mattered to Kirk Cousins detractors…— TreMAINe ATTRACTION (@Mr_Objectivity) January 13, 2023
….until he started winning #SKOL
Empowered Kirk Cousins
If you surveyed his teammates and coaches, though, there’s never been more belief in Kirk Cousins. A once-fractured locker room has rallied around #8 in a way that he’s never experienced during his career and a lot of that has to do with first year head coach, Kevin O’Connell, who has taken ever feasible action possible to empower his quarterback.
That includes more say at the line of scrimmage. In an interview with the Star Tribune, Kevin O’Connell said Kirk has multiple plays at his disposal when he breaks the huddle and that he’s changed the called play, once he gets to the line, nearly 70% of the time this season. That’s a huge change from what he could do under Mike Zimmer.
How often does Cousins change something from O’Connell’s initial play call by the time the ball is snapped? “I would probably say close to 70 percent,” O’Connell said.
“We’ve scored on plays this year that either Kirk suggested, or a big third-down conversion he had ultimate ownership of,” O’Connell said. “I think the big thing for him this year is, his ownership has just grown by leaps and bounds, with his comfort and what we’re asking of him.”Ben Goessling – Star Tribune
Silence the haters
So here we are. Kirk Cousins is finally being treated like a high quality quarterback by his coach and teammates and he’s parlayed that into 13 wins and an NFC North title. Yet, respect from football fans and talking heads across the league is still lacking.
Sunday, however, marks the beginning of an opportunity for Cousins to change his narrative across the football landscape. If he plays poorly and the Vikings lose vs the Giants, doubters will seize their “I told you so” moment to flex on those who believed. ‘Kirk Cousins is who we thought he was’, will be the narrative.
Or… Kirko Chainz could come out and shut everyone up. If he comes out and plays well vs New York and the Vikings win, critics will be forced to swallow their words for one more week. Then, should he pull a shocker over the 49ers next weekend, on the road, there’s no doubt we would see a brand new appreciation start to form surrounding Kirk Cousins’ career.
The take: “Kirk Cousins can only win 1pm games!”— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) January 13, 2023
The plan: pic.twitter.com/7d9TBnDmi6
Make a Super Bowl… and hell, Hall of Fame discussions would even sprout up. Could you imagine Kirk Cousins HOF discussions? That would be a trip.
In other words, the 2023 playoffs is one of the final opportunities that Kirk Cousins has to reshape a negative narrative that’s followed him for most of his professional football life. If Cousins can lead the Minnesota Vikings on a deep playoff run, haters will have no choice but to put respect on his name.
So what’s it gonna be, Kirk? Super Bowl? Hall of Fame? A big money contract extension?
Or… “I told you so!”?
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan