Kirk Cousins has everything on the line next season. The Minnesota Vikings ownership made that clear when they pushed Rick Spielman to draft his possible replacement, Kellen Mond, last week. But that doesn’t mean everyone is down on Kirk’s career outlook heading into the 2021 season.
In fact, there’s one author over at the very popular national football website, Pro Football Focus (PFF), who wrote over 1100 words on Cousins as THE dark horse MVP candidate in the NFL next season. Why? For the first time in his career, Kirk Cousins could finally have an average or better offensive line.
The numbers say that Kirk with protection… could very-well be dangerous.
Kirk Cousins a product of his offensive lines?
During the 2021 NFL Draft, it looked like the Vikings finally made a conscious decision to fix their offensive line. Cousins is a technician without any real mobility, and it leads to him being sacked as much as anyone in the league. He’s played behind one porous offensive line after another. The Vikings’ line has ranked 30th in cumulative pass-block grade over the past three regular seasons. That’s bad.
Last year, with a 55.7 pass-block grade, the unit put forth its worst performance among the three seasons. While pressure rate is tied to the quarterback, Minnesota has allowed a rate above 32% in each of the past three years, which seems to fall more on the offensive line’s shoulders than Cousins, even though he isn’t the quickest to get rid of the football.
Specifically, the offensive line has been abysmal through the middle. Minnesota’s guard-center-guard combinations rank among the worst we’ve ever seen. Avert your eyes, Vikings fans: Over the past three seasons, the cumulative pass-block grade between Minnesota interior linemen was 44.2, last in the league. For reference, the 31st-ranked team, the Seattle Seahawks, earned a 53.1 grade. And the top-ranked team, the Cleveland Browns, recorded an 89.8 mark.Seth Galina – PFF
MVP Kirk Cousins?
But PFF went beyond dubbing Kirk Cousins a legitimate NFL starter. Seth think that Kirk Cousins has an MVP season in him and possibly a Super Bowl run. He reminds us that the numbers (which PFF makes its money on) say that #8 is a much better QB than others who have won super bowls or made runs at them in the recent past.
In fact, the numbers say that Cousins borders on the “elite” category of quarterbacks. The only thing he is missing, however, is wins. I’ve been told that those are important.
One day, the prophecy will be fulfilled and Kirk Cousins will win NFL MVP or the Super Bowl. Considering how many average quarterbacks we’ve seen flirt with the award during the season and the recent Super Bowl signal-callers no longer starting for the teams they took to the big game, Cousins will come out on top one of these years.
We treat the Minnesota Vikings quarterback as one of these Jared Goff or Jimmy Garoppolo types, but in reality, he has been much better, consistently ranking in the top 10 in a number of traditional and advanced statistics each year.
If we look at all the quarterbacks who have taken at least 1,500 snaps over the past three seasons, Cousins ranks seventh in PFF grade, at 88.7. That’s borderline elite, if not firmly elite. The biggest difference is that the quarterbacks who rank in front of Cousins win games. A lot of them.
Meanwhile, Cousins is 25-21-1 in the regular season for the Vikings. Patrick Mahomes is 37-8, Tom Brady is 34-14, Drew Brees is 30-8, Aaron Rodgers is 32-15-1, Russell Wilson is 33-15 and Deshaun Watson is 25-22. How is it possible that those guys have such better records than Cousins when the Vikings quarterback is not far from them statistically?Seth Galina – PFF
The pieces are in place (and so is a backup option)
At the end of the day, this is a prove-it season for Kirk Cousins. Yes, he is going to make a bunch of money in 2021 and 2022 but he’s only 32 years old. He still has another mammoth contract in his future if he can really fulfill the PFF prophecy discussed above.
The Minnesota Vikings would be happy to be that team, with or without Kellen Mond waiting in the wings. If the offensive line really is fixed then this could be an opportunity for Kirk Cousins to turn his career conversation from “borderline decent QB” into a legitimate upper-echelon NFL quarterback. The type that, with a Super Bowl ring, could slip into HOF conversations.
That may seem bold but let’s remember how much time Kirk has left to rack up thousands of yards and hundreds of touchdowns in his career. But, he has to grasp the opportunity.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan