The first year of the Kirk Cousins experiment didn’t go well, with the Vikings regressing from a final four team to one of the 20 franchises that watch the playoffs from home. In a recent visit to the PFT Live set at the Super Bowl, Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs was asked to make the case for patience to Vikings fans.
“First year,” Diggs said. “New system, new quarterback, new receivers. Everybody’s new. Still got to adjust, and you know there’s a lot of room for improvement. We’ve had a lot of sparks. We had some good games. Some things that you saw that we could be really special. And doing it on a consistent basis is something that’s going to come with time. You can’t look forward to time. It’s not working against us, it’s working with us.”
Time is the key word, in multiple respects. The Vikings need to improve their offensive line, in order to give Cousins more time to find open receivers. While Case Keenum had the ability to scramble away from pressure, buying time until a receiver popped open, Cousins never got far from the pocket because he can’t.
Then there’s the issue of Cousins’ performances in prime time and other big spots. The narrative has taken on a life of it own, and the best hope for the Vikings, frankly, will be to have as few night games as possible in 2019, something that is far more likely given the fact that the Vikings lost much of their luster in 2018.
At some point, however, Cousins will have to win a game that starts at night or otherwise carries with it some significant consequence. Last year, Cousins and the Vikings lost on a Thursday night to the Rams, a Sunday night to the Saints, a Sunday night to the Bears, and a Monday night to the Seahawks. Cousins and the Vikings also lost high-profile 4:25 p.m. ET games to the Patriots and Bears.
In fairness to quarterback and team, Minnesota won a Sunday night game against the Packers, and a 4:25 p.m. ET game at Philly. (In fairness to fairness, both of those teams were struggling at the time the Vikings played them.)
So that’s a record of 2-6 in games that mattered the most, and that’s not the kind of performance that will get the Vikings to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1976, or even remotely close to it.