If Play-Caller Chemistry Matters, Kirk Cousins is Sitting on a Big Season
Kirk Cousins may not be the best player on the Minnesota Vikings, but he is the most important. The best quarterbacks, however, have a stable of good players around them, along with the right play-caller in their helmet, who knows how to set the offense up for success.
Chemistry between QB and play-caller is essential.
The 2023-24 season will be the first in which Kirk has entered a new season, in Minnesota, with the same offensive play-caller as the year prior. Constant change is very hard on a quarterback because they are forced to spend much of their time learning a new system, as opposed to perfecting one they’re already used to.
That’s a relatively new concept for Cousins, who has experienced a revolving door of offensive play-callers throughout the entirety of his 11-year NFL career. He had four different play-callers while in Washington (6 seasons) and Kevin O’Connell is his 5th, since signing with the Vikings (5 seasons).
Despite playing with a variety of offensive play-callers, Cousins has maintained a high level of play, which is why Vikings fans should be excited as Kirk enters his second year under his new head coach and offensive play-caller. Just look at what happened the last time he had the same voice in his helmet for more than one season.
Kirk Cousins + Sean McVay (circa 2016)
2023 will be the first time since 2016 that Cousins enters a season with the same play-caller as the year prior. He thrived in Washington that season, throwing for a career high 4,917 yards and earning his 1st trip to the Pro Bowl. He looked the most comfortable he ever had, to that point in his career.
For the first time since 2016, Kirk Cousins has the same offensive play caller for more than 1 season.— Dominique Clare (@DomClare) August 6, 2023
During that 2016 season, Cousins threw for 4,917 yards (career high) and earned his 1st trip to the pro bowl.
Coaching consistency matters. #Vikings pic.twitter.com/ubDMbGHHIo
Cousins play-caller that season was current LA Rams Coach, Sean McVay. McVay was entering his 3rd season as Washington’s offensive coordinator and second season calling the plays. Head Coach Jay Gruden called the plays in 2014, during his first season as head coach, before handing responsibilities off to McVay.
2023 Offensive Weapons > 2016 Offensive Weapons
The 2016 Washington offense that Cousins put up career numbers in had no where near the weapons he has this season with the Vikings, either. Back then, Kirk’s offensive line was below average and he threw a pair of 30-year-old receivers, in Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, to 1,000-yard seasons. His running backs — Robert Kelley, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson — most football fans have never even heard of
With the 2023 Vikings, Kirk Cousins will throw to talented wide receivers in Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and KJ Osborn. All three are in their twenties and Jefferson is arguably the best receiver in the NFL. Actually, I will just say it. Justin Jefferson is the best receiver in the NFL.
Kirk has a very talented tight end to throw to as well, in TJ Hockenson, who recently became the highest paid tight end in the NFL. Hockenson is a top target for Cousins, which is why the Vikings paid him, and he takes a lot of pressure off of Justin Jefferson.
The running back room is solid, despite Dalvin Cook’s departure to New York. And there’s no doubt the Vikings’ 2023 backfield is better than what Washington had in 2016. In fact, Minnesota’s new RB1, Alexander Mattison, has already gained more career rushing yards (1,670) — as a backup to Cook — than Robert Kelley (906), Matt Jones (964) or Chris Thompson (1,214) accumulated through their entire careers.
Mattison has proven himself more than capable on numerous opportunities over the last few years, when called upon to fill in as a starter for the oft-injured Cook. Additionally, the Vikings have a mix of depth that is eager to step in and prove themselves.
In summary: The talent this 2023 Vikings team has on offense, combined with QB/coach continuity Kirk Cousins hasn’t seen since his days in DC, will equate to a career year for him and big numbers from the Minnesota offense. I’m talking career highs in multiple passing categories. Buckle up.
Dom Clare | Minnesota Sports Fan