Kirk Cousins Needs to Trust Himself and His Weapons
Through the back-half of his career in Washington (2012-17), and 3+ seasons into his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings, Kirk Cousins has been considered by most to be a top-half NFL quarterback. He’s almost always been seen as a legitimate starting QB who’s struggled to find success in big moments, the few times he’s found himself in them. But really, there’s only one thing holding Kirk back from finally taking that step up and into the next tier of QB’s.
In a lot of ways, Kirk Cousins and Mike Zimmer are perfect for each other. The head coach has always preferred a risk-averse signal-caller who values the football more than his own ability to make plays. That was until the last week or two, when suddenly Zim was calling for more offensive aggressiveness too. At 3-5, the conservative “play not to lose” mentality clearly wasn’t working and I guess we should give Mike some credit for actually seeing it.
Mike Zimmer said he told Justin Jefferson earlier in the week to prepare for a lot of targets today.— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) November 15, 2021
“I know that he was very frustrated last week,” Zimmer said after Jefferson wasn’t a focal point of the offense in Baltimore.
On 4th down, Zimmer could've had MIN kick a 54-yard FG to go up 30-20. But if Greg Joseph would've missed it would've allowed LAC to tie with a TD and PAT (or win with a 2pt).— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) November 15, 2021
Zimmer didn't want to give LAC the ball back w/2+ min remaining. And that was the right call.
Breaking Nature + Nurture Habits
Nobody really doubts that Kirk Cousins has the arm, the talent or the downfield vision to be a top QB. What he lacks is trust. He lacks trust in himself to deliver throws that other quarterbacks may not be able to make and he lacks trust that his wide receivers will make contested catches.
This isn’t an attack on #8’s confidence. I have no doubt he believes in himself and his offensive weapons. Taking chances in the passing game just conflicts with his risk-averse nature. Something that’s been compounded by years of nurturing in Mike Zimmer’s style of football.
But on Sunday in Los Angeles, with the help of attack-mode Klint Kubiak, Cousins looked like a newly freed man. Even in the riskiest moments, Kirk trusted his own accuracy, instincts and the talent that oozes out of his wide receivers. It didn’t matter the situation, Cousins was focused on pushing the ball downfield.
And guess what? He and the Minnesota Vikings were rewarded with a huge win that ended with a Kirk Cousins kneel-down. No nail-biting defensive possession to sweat through. No Justin Herbert come back. Just a stress-free victory formation with two minutes still left on the clock.
So if Zimmer, Kubiak and Kirk Cousins learned anything from last week, we should see continued aggressiveness going forward. Adam Thielen called for as much in Wednesday’s media availability.
Attack, attack, attack.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan