PFT 2019 storyline No. 14: Will Kirk Cousins be something more than a .500 quarterback?

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Kirk Cousins, despite periodic bouts of Michael Scottishness on social media, has found true self-awareness when it comes to assessing his football fortunes.

“I’m pretty much a .500 quarterback in my career so far and I don’t think that’s where you want to be and that’s not why you are brought in or people are excited about you,” Cousins admitted last month.

He’s actually just below .500 for his career, with 34 wins, 37 losses, and a pair of ties. During Cousins’ first season with the Vikings, a Week Two tie against the Packers kept him barely above .500, finishing 8-7-1. For the second time in his career, however, Cousins had a Week 17 home game against a division rival that already had clinched a playoff berth, and yet he couldn’t deliver.

Yes, quarterbacks get too much credit when things go well and too much blame when things go poorly. But when a quarterback gets two years of franchise-player salary and then a three-year, fully-guaranteed $84 million deal, the bar moves considerably higher. Cousins failed to get over it in 2018.

Will he in 2019? Reasons exist for optimism, based on the retention of offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, a recommitment to the running game fueled by the arrival of Gary Kubiak as an offensive consultant, the drafting of center Garrett Bradbury, the full health of running back Dalvin Cook, the decision to devote a second-round pick on tight Irv Smith, and the ability to retain veteran tight end Kyle Rudolph. The defense still has plenty of potency, and an improved offense will make the defense even better.

But it all comes down to Cousins. He needs to not just generate big statistics, but to make big throws in big moments to deliver big wins, especially in prime time, when the Vikings are scheduled to play five of their 16 games.

Winning at night — and against the likes of the Bears and the Packers — will go a long way toward determining whether Cousins can lift himself, and his team, above .500 and into the postseason.

109 responses to “PFT 2019 storyline No. 14: Will Kirk Cousins be something more than a .500 quarterback?

  1. “Reasons exist for optimism”

    Says the Vikings fan😄

    Good Luck Kirk. See ya in Lambeau on Sept. 15th.

    #GoPackGo!🏈

  2. Meh! As NFL starters go, he’s pretty much median, average, mediocre. Kinda like an Andy Dalton. Just okay, nothing special.

  3. No, which is why Mr. Snyder and Mr. Allen went year to year with him. And when you’re GM gets out-smarted by those two, you’re in trouble.

  4. Perhaps a better question would be: will Kirk Cousins still be teaching Adam Thielen how to run routes on the sideline as late as week 17?
    skoLOL!!!

  5. I’m looking for big things from the Vikes in a “bounce back” year. Easily 10/11 wins and a division title. For all the carping about Cousin’s money, it’s not too far from many other QBs. And remember, the Vikes weren’t paying dead money for any other QBs last year. The stars are lining up. SKOL!!

  6. To date he beats bad and mediocre teams but not the better ones. That trend is more likely to continue than not.

  7. It depends on his surrounding cast. Despite what the “experts” write about, football is a “team”sport..

  8. Considering he had a patchwork offensive line that had their coach die right before training I thought he did well under those circumstances. It will be better in year two with an instant stud at Center and improved Guard play. Running the ball is the team identity and it will be back this year.

  9. Winning at night — and against the likes of the Bears and the Packers
    I understand the first part of the Bears, but beating the rebuilding Packers makes for little to brag about.

    He’s basically Fitzmagic minus the beard and cool nickname.
    28-35 380yds 4 tds one game, 8-22 118yrds 3 Ints the next.

    Unless Kubiak does his own magic, nothing will change.

  10. Hey the guy was OK in college and was never going to be a lights out QB. He is what he is. Maybe 500 is over achieving for him, who knows. He has a lot of great targets on a ball control team so he will survive.
    Besides the Vikes forte has always been get ahead and play D to stay ahead. They win 10-3 games.

  11. If I could bet the over/under line of a 9-7 record on the Vikings, I would bet the under. BIG. I would be happy to lose my money if Kirk “8-8” Cousins gets the Vikings to 10-6 or better.

    I don’t think it will happen.

  12. It depends oh how much influence Kubiak has. If he has enough, he could help Cousins earn every penny of his salary. He’s done that throughout his coaching career. Just look at Schaub.

  13. I would have to say no. There isn’t a real good supporting cast around him.

    I guess that’s why they play the games to find out.

    I’m leaning towards 8-8, possibly 9-7.

  14. Maybe things are easier for us arm chair talent evaluators, but it was obvious to me before he signed with the Vikes that this would be the outcome. Very, very obvious.

  15. The simple answer is to blame the QB but the term team is used for a reason. Outcomes are a result of the combination of players and coaches; yes, the few great QBs can elevate teams but the majority cannot.

  16. Being humbled by a loss at home against Buffalo is one thing. But calling their first loss in the season to the Bears at Chicago was insulting and left some Vikings fans raging – and rightfully so. I will continue saying this until I’m purple in the face: with his salary and the expectations with that, he needs to spend more time preparing and winning than praying and being humbled by losses. My hope is that he figures it out this year.

  17. You can claim he’s not earning that salary if you want, but there’s a lot of teams that would love 4300 yards, 70%, 30/10 for a 99.7 rating.

    Seems to happen when a contender adds a key piece the following year. “Swap Keenum for Cousins? Super Bowl bound!” Doesn’t usually work out that way in the NFL.

  18. Kirk Cousins is 4-25 against teams with a winning record.
    Nearly NINETY MILLION DOLLARS FOR THAT?!?!?

  19. Still not a fan of this teams 3rd round pick and how they kept trading back to get 7th round picks. There was a really good guard available from penn state and they passed on him. i think they are going to regret that. Conver McGovern. keep an eye out for that name.

  20. Who cares? As a career .500 qb, he got a 3 year, $84M contract fully guaranteed! That is awesome! He is set and will likely continue to play at .500. Enjoy.

  21. If Matt Schaub, the elderly Payton Manning and John Elway, Joe Flacco, and Jake Plummer can be better than .500 QBs in Gary Kubiak’s offense, so can Kirk Cousins.

    Cousins strengths match very well with Kubiak’s offense, while his weaknesses as an improvisational play-maker are not as important in this offense, nor will he be in a lot of high pitch-count games, which isn’t ideal for him either.

  22. Re the Redskins, Daniel Snyder was never able to separate Kirk Cousins from the QBIII fiasco. A better offensive line, healthy running back, 2017 defense – knock me over with a feather – a much better Vikings team in 2019.

  23. The Vikings issues go far beyond Cousins. Haters are going to keep on him because it trolls the Purples so much, but that team has a horrible OL and a defense that is middle of the pack on its best days. That isn’t something a QB alone can overcome. I’m not sold on their coaching, either. Now that Kubiak is there, they have a chance to improve. We’ll see.

  24. Daniel Snyder was never able to separate Kirk Cousins from the QBIII fiasco. If the Vikings offensive line is better than last year’s, if the running backs are healthy, and if the defense plays like in 2017 – knock me over with a feather- a much better record.

  25. “Cousins is the most overrated/overhyped player in the NFL”
    ————————————————————–
    Not true. Kyler Murray is….and he hasn’t played a down yet.

  26. “He’s quite possibly the most overpaid athlete of all time.”
    ————————————————————-
    I think you’ve forgotten about Albert Haynesworth.

  27. As a Redskins fan, I was glad to see him leave. He pads his stats when he’s already lost the game. But he is smart. He knows what he wants out of life. When this contract is done, hell have made close to $150 million, before age 30. I don’t think he’ll care if he gets another contract. E doesn’t live beyond his means. He’s set for life.

  28. a defense that is middle of the pack on its best days.

    Top 5 three years in a row. #1 on 3rd down over the same span.
    The defense has their lapses at times for sure, but give this defense to an actual franchise QB and they should at least make the playoffs every year.

  29. He is what he is which is a solid game manager but not elite QB. They should have simply kept Keenum who is a very similar QB but seemed to be a better fit in their system.

  30. Cousins has all the resources now to succeed! If this isn’t the season he performs, I don’t expect him to be back after his last year of his contract. Unless he takes a huge pay cut! That I don’t see and the Vikings will probably or eventually will draft a quarterback to fill the void once his contract is done.

  31. Matt Flynn 3 years $19 million and sat on the bench. Javon Wakler 6 years $55 million.JaMarcus Russell $68 million for 6 years. These 3 were way more overpaid than Cousins.

  32. vavikingfan says:
    July 10, 2019 at 12:58 pm
    The simple answer is to blame the QB but the term team is used for a reason. Outcomes are a result of the combination of players and coaches; yes, the few great QBs can elevate teams but the majority cannot.

    ———————-

    If he is not elevating the team the Vikings really screwed up giving him the first fully guaranteed QB contract. Regardless they screwed everyone else who is now having to give out larger guarantees.

  33. Wondering about the story on Matthew Staffford delivring some wins is. After all, isn’t he getting paid more than Cousins. He’s been in the league 3 more years than Cousins and has earned $100 million more. Why is he not the subject of such stories? After all, big money for sub .500 QB has to be news, right?

  34. Cousins has played 1 year with the Vikings, not 5-10 years. So this huge stat people are repeating of .142 winning percentage against winning teams isn’t relevant. That is more of a reflection on Washington as a team than Cousins.

  35. He had ample opportunities to surge beyond 500 with the Redskins and he proved he can’t.

  36. fmc651 says:
    July 10, 2019 at 8:50 pm
    Cousins has played 1 year with the Vikings, not 5-10 years. So this huge stat people are repeating of .142 winning percentage against winning teams isn’t relevant. That is more of a reflection on Washington as a team than Cousins.

    ———

    So what you’re saying is when he went 1-6 vs winning teams last year, it’s more a reflection on the Vikings as a team than Cousins?

    Oh. Ok. I can agree with that.

  37. Florio – thumbs up. Cousins is a sticking point for me, but so is Jimmy Garoppolo and dating myself a little, Scott Mitchell, Matt Cassell, Matt Flynn….

    I know everyone thinks the QB is the most important position on the field, and sometimes it is. I still think that disses a now emasculated defense but not my point here. Cousins gets thrown all this money by the Vikings when they went to the NFCCG the previous season with a perfectly good QB in their scheme. Why? Because they like being mired in mediocrity (SKOL!!)

    All of the things you mention about reasons for optimism? OK sure. But this isn’t a one year stat. The guy is mediocre, yet MN decided to reset how QBs are paid with a mediocre QB (SKOL!!)

    The whole thing is a mess. I don’t root for anyone to fail – especially a guy who apparently has self-awareness. But we have GOT to stop putting guys on pedestals who have proven zero (looking at you Jimmy G). Prove it or lose it contracts, only way to go.

  38. Cousins is what he is. If you give him a clean pocket he’ll usually find an open guy and there are times where he will make ridiculous throws that make him look like a HOFer. The problems start when he gets pressured and panics. He doesn’t have that “6th sense” pocket presence that the all-time greats have, and I don’t think that’s something that can be learned. He’s not the kind of QB that’s going to find a way to win games against all odds. It’s going to take a complete team effort to have a shot at a ship for the Vikings.

  39. Kirk Cousins is going to be 31 in August. Any clueless individuals thinking that Kirk is all the sudden going to be something different and be great this season are fooling themselves. It’s over. Kirk is what he is and that is a below average QB that will never win the big one.

  40. amaf21 says:
    July 10, 2019 at 11:55 am
    No, which is why Mr. Snyder and Mr. Allen went year to year with him. And when you’re GM gets out-smarted by those two, you’re in trouble.

    Sorry best comment of my day. Well played. Well played.

  41. Keenum, now on his third team in two years, simply had a career season with the Vikings. He was bailed out time after time by Thielen when he just tossed up the ball under pressure. It was a nice change to see the Vikings actually go after a FA QB “in his prime”. They already tried to draft one or go after the 40 year old. Sure, Cousins is probably only a .500 QB. Either way, they need to get lucky and draft QBs until they find one that can be a franchise player.

  42. If you are going to describe Cousins with a label that is a number, I suggest .500 is not what first comes to mind, its $84 million guaranteed. And that’s on Spielman, 100%.

    This has all the makings of a rolling disaster, I will get my popcorn ready, sit back, and watch.

  43. whatjusthapped says:
    July 11, 2019 at 9:31 am

    This has all the makings of a rolling disaster, I will get my popcorn ready, sit back, and watch.
    __________

    Especially when you factor in the potential for a Kubiak/Zimmer schism when things begin to go South.
    This is shaping up to be a very fun and exciting season.

  44. fmc651 says:
    July 10, 2019 at 8:50 pm
    Cousins has played 1 year with the Vikings, not 5-10 years. So this huge stat people are repeating of .142 winning percentage against winning teams isn’t relevant. That is more of a reflection on Washington as a team than Cousins.

    ——–

    So why was he 1-6 last season with the Vikings?

    That’s also a.142 winning percentage!

  45. Cousins was in demand at a time a few years ago where decent QBs were few and far between. Now there have been many good to very good young QBs that have entered the league and Cousins is a bottom 5 guy. The world changed.

  46. Cousins isn’t the frustration in Minnesota. It’s their overrated fail-in-the-clutch defense. I know, I know……”we beat the Packers, we beat the Packers!,” but that really isn’t enough. Is it?

  47. Cousin Cousins should reach .600% with hard work. If he ever stops counting money from heaven that is.

  48. SWFLPC.INC says:
    July 11, 2019 at 9:41 am

    That’s also ONE season, you don’t have a great point from ONE season.

  49. I hate people who do this, but I can’t find a place to ask this question. So I’m going to slip it here under the guise of the Vikings doing better. Their defense had an off year. It was more than just Rhodes. They looked lost against top quality teams and couldn’t adjust to some formations ( Barr covering WRs) Was it the fact the offense couldn’t generate a first down that forced a defense to play until failure? And will Kubiak be any help to the defense in terms of understanding what other teams are doing when they have the ball? For us to have a big year the offense has to get more first downs, fewer three and outs, and the defense can’t get torched for big plays.

  50. You’re sure making a lot of excuses. Um…IT WAS WASHINGTON, NOT COUSINS! Um…WHO CARES IF WE WENT 13-3 WITH CASE KEENUM AND ONLY WON 8 GAMES WITH COUSINS THAT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING!!

    The truth is: Cousins is not even a .500 QB. Versus winning teams he is terrible. TERRIBLE. I’m not that sorry if the truth hurts.

  51. Raider Bob says:
    July 10, 2019 at 12:37 pm
    Maybe the Vikings will be gifted another tie this season to push them over the .500 hump once again.

    waffle I know Packer fans see 500 as a hump because of the Packer’s below 500 last two seasons but rest assured that is your goal and not the gaol of Viking fans.

  52. I’m wondering if Aaron Rodgers will ever be a .500 quarterback again.

  53. Aaron Rodgers was 1-5-1 against teams over .500 last year. Everything packer fans are saying about Cousins they need to apply to Rodgers x 2 since at least Cousins also beat the teams they should beat while the Packers lost to the likes of the cardinals (3-13), the redskins (7-9), and the lions…twice! (6-10). That’s 4 losses against teams with a combine 22-42 record.

  54. The Vikings should have concerns about Cousins beating good teams this year. They should, and have, no concerns about Cousins beating the Packers this year….as history has shown. FACT

  55. “Perhaps a better question would be: will Kirk Cousins still be teaching Adam Thielen how to run routes on the sidelines as late as week 17?”

    ===========

    Judging from this very recent Kirk Cousins quote the answer is yes:

    “I’m going to do all I can, control what I can control and I think one thing I can do beyond just playing the best I can is to really start coaching so that I can never walk off the field saying, Hey, I did my part but so-and-so didn’t. That can’t happen again.”

    My God, what a mess!😉

    I hate to laugh at the situation, but how can you not?😄😂🤣

  56. People have started figuring out Zimmer’s defense. It happens to every defensive coordinator. They know that Rhodes will hold and it’ll either be a completion or a PI penalty (especially this year). They know that Barr can’t cover running backs or shifty slot receivers. They know that the safeties aren’t what they used to be.

    All of this, plus an obvious rift between Cousins and Theilen, means that this will continue.

    Vikings fans should look forward to next year and the upcoming rebuild, as this year will be in the 5 win range at best.

  57. Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    July 11, 2019 at 1:55 pm
    I’m wondering if Aaron Rodgers will ever be a .500 quarterback again.
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    What do you mean “again?” Rodgers would have to lose fifty-seven (57) games IN A ROW to be on-par with Cousins’ lifetime winning percentage of .473.

    Are you sure you don’t want to rephrase your stupid question?

  58. the packers haven’t figured out Zimmer’s defense yet. And what will the diva QB do if they get off to a rough start? Start throwing his rookie head coach under the bus? Probably. I hope the Bears defense doesn’t rough AR up too much so there are no excuses this season.

  59. cheeseisfattening says:
    July 11, 2019 at 2:34 pm
    The Vikings should have concerns about Cousins beating good teams this year. They should, and have, no concerns about Cousins beating the Packers this year….as history has shown. FACT
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Already celebrating a Viking “SuperBowl” victory? Good for you! That’s the spirit. Don’t let anybody tell you it doesn’t feel just as good as the real thing.

  60. If it makes you feel better to think that me stating the FACT that Kirk Cousins has a 66.67 lifetime winning percentage against the Packers equates to the Vikings winning the Super Bowl please feel free. Its just one of those fantasies cheese eaters tell themselves to make themselves feel better about themselves. Just like their classic ‘we are special because we cheer for the Green Bay Packers’

  61. Ohhh…and the Packers will be running an offense similar to the Rams. How did Jared Goff do against that Vikings defense?

    Oh…465 yards and 5 TDs.

    And you think that Jared Goff is better than Aaron Rodgers?

    Neat!

  62. Ohhh…and the Packers will be running an offense similar to the Rams. How did Jared Goff do against that Vikings defense?

    Oh…465 yards and 5 TDs.

    —–
    Oh waffle
    1. that was after LaFleur had left the rams. How did Jared Goff do with LaFleur as the ram’s OC against the vikings? 23/37 for 225.
    2. a declining Aaron Rodgers is no Jared Goff

  63. Hmm. I haven’t seen any evidence that Aaron Rodgers is declining. Neither have you. But you keep saying things over and over in the hopes that it will just become true.

    You’ll also ignore facts to cater to your argument (because you’re stupid).

    Regardless, it all comes down to this:

    Aaron Rodgers is better than Jared Goff.
    Jared Goff is better than Kirk Cousins.
    The Packers are better than the Vikings.

    Enjoy your day.

  64. cheeseisfattening says:
    July 11, 2019 at 5:03 pm
    If it makes you feel better to think that me stating the FACT that Kirk Cousins has a 750 lifetime winning percentage against the Packers equates to the Vikings winning the Super Bowl please feel free. Its just one of those fantasies cheese eaters tell themselves to make themselves feel better about themselves. Just like their classic ‘we are special because we cheer for the Green Bay Packers’
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    If it makes you feel better to fantasize Cousins is better than Rodgers, please feel free. Plus, as Packer fans we don’t need to feel better about ourselves. We’re Packer fans. It doesn’t get any better!

  65. If the packers are so much better then the Vikings why have they beaten them only once in the last SEVEN attempts? Asking for a friend.

  66. O for 59 says:
    July 11, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Ohhh…and the Packers will be running an offense similar to the Rams.////

    The packers do not have Todd Gurley though. Or the Rams defense.

  67. Kubiak had manning throwing 50 TD’s with a dead arm. If Cook can stay healthy & that is a huge if, the Vikings are going to tear up the league. Like the Rams & Chiefs did last year. The league isn’t going to be prepared for it. The Vikings will make the playoffs. It’s the Vikings defense that’s the Achilles heel. They gave up nearly 75 yards rushing per game more last year than the previous season. They have trouble stopping teams on 3rd downs, especially good passing teams & teams with RB’s who can catch. That still gets them due to mismatches. Since the LB’s cover RB’s & TE’s in Zim’s scheme. He needs to fix that. They need to be less fancy with trying to trick other teams hiding their base defense. Just line them up & play. Like Edwards did vs the Cowboys. Best the D ever played in the Zim era & Zim wasn’t even coaching that day. Zim needs to keep away from the D this year & let Edwards handle it & stick to being HC. They should also trade for Gold of the Niners.

  68. fmc651 says:
    July 12, 2019 at 1:08 am
    O for 59 says:
    July 11, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    Ohhh…and the Packers will be running an offense similar to the Rams.////

    The packers do not have Todd Gurley though. Or the Rams defense.
    ——————————————————————-

    We don’t know how much the Packers defense will improve.

    We DO know that the Vikings defense will regress yet again.

  69. stellarperformance says:
    July 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm
    Rob Brzezinski is a Magician says:
    July 11, 2019 at 1:55 pm
    I’m wondering if Aaron Rodgers will ever be a .500 quarterback again.
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    What do you mean “again?” Rodgers would have to lose fifty-seven (57) games IN A ROW to be on-par with Cousins’ lifetime winning percentage of .473.

    Are you sure you don’t want to rephrase your stupid question?
    —————————————————————-
    Meaning he’s been under .500 the last two years and he’s wondering if he will end the “streak” and get to over .500 again before his career ends. Take off the cheese-head and eat it with your whine… Packer fans are so thin skinned and so pretentious… bring on the Kizer era! HA!

  70. Some of you Vikings fans really don’t know how football is played, I guess.

    See, there are 11 starters on offense, and 11 on defense.

    It’s a “team” effort.

    Last year, the starters for the Green Bay Packers weren’t that great, but Aaron Rodgers was not to blame for being under .500. It was the culmination of everyone’s efforts, combined with lackluster playcalling that led to one of the Packers’ more frustrating efforts.

    The Packers have since (hopefully) rectified some of the issues that plagued them last season. They signed a consistent safety, a consistent offensive lineman, and two pass rushers that are good at getting pressure. Oh, and signed a coach with a system designed to attack multiple parts of a defense.

  71. In 2017, the Vikings starters went 13-3.

    They replaced just one starter, the QB, in 2018, and went 8-7-1.

    You’re going to be excited, though. This year, to improve their record, the Vikings…

    **checks notes**

    Did nothing.

  72. tokyosandblaster says:
    July 12, 2019 at 3:32 pm
    In 2017, the Vikings starters went 13-3.

    They replaced just one starter, the QB, in 2018, and went 8-7-1.

    You’re going to be excited, though. This year, to improve their record, the Vikings…

    **checks notes**

    Did nothing.
    ————————————

    If you’re implying the Packers did do something then hold on.

    **checks notes**

    Overpaid two mediocre pass rushers that have never had a ten sack season, a backup safety and a journeyman Olineman.
    Yep that’s something.

  73. stella is getting blasted with thumbs down so he brings out the old tokyosandblaster username. Same results.

  74. As you’ll see, I said “hopefully,” ariani.

    No guarantees here.

    What I will guarantee is that hopes and prayers aren’t going to make the Vikings get better. And that’s literally all you have.

  75. tokyosandblaster says:
    July 12, 2019 at 3:32 pm
    In 2017, the Vikings starters went 13-3.
    They replaced just one starter, the QB, in 2018, and went 8-7-1.
    You’re going to be excited, though. This year, to improve their record, the Vikings…
    **checks notes**
    ———–
    Note taking must not be a strength at the green bay remidial high school. Off the top of my head S Richardson, Brian O’Neil, Tom Compton, D Bailey, M Wile were all new starters. Don’t let the facts screw up your trolling.

    Don’t worry you can always go and watch baseball in the airplane hanger that is called a baseball stadium in wisco.

  76. It’s “remedial.” When trying to call someone stupid you should ensure you’re not a moron.

    You downgraded from Sheldon Richardson to Shamar “3 sacks in 5 seasons” Stephen. You’re starting a rookie on what was already the worst offensive line in NFL history.

    Hopes and prayers are all you have.

  77. As a lifelong Vikings fan – going back to the Vikings/Chiefs Super Bowl – I’ve learned to make no predictions. Whatever happens, happens. And I’m sure as hell not waiting on Cousins to make it happen.

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