Kirk Cousins is getting more comfortable throwing to Kyle Rudolph when he’s covered

AP

Last May, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins compared Kyle Rudolph to a mattress. Come September, the connection was, relatively speaking, comatose.

This year, things could be different.

“I’ve done a better job this camp . . . of just trusting him more and throwing it to him even when he’s covered,” Cousins told reporters on Wednesday. “I think today there were probably two or three examples of him catching the ball with the defender draped over him or pretty close to him. He is just such a trustworthy target, so little things like that, building a chemistry with him, you would’ve loved to say I did that last year, but I don’t think I did enough.”

So what has changed?

“He just continues to show that when you throw it to him in those moments, he makes you right,” Cousins said. “He catches it. The play he made in the back of the end zone today was just really impressive. He kind of ran out of real estate and stopped, and just had to kind of post-up, just did a great job of walling the defender without committing a pass interference and then making a strong catch. He did a similar thing in a corner route in the front corner of the end zone at the end of practice and he had a couple others through 7-on-7s and other periods in previous days, so the more you do it the more you see it, the more you realize that’s a strength of his. I guess look back and regret a little bit not doing that more with him last year and then look forward to this year and giving him more opportunities to make it right. When really everything in you is telling you, ‘Hey, he’s really not open, but let’s give him a shot.'”

Cousins attributed the different not to trust but to reps.

“When you really think about it, it was, I think, 13 practices last spring and then you have training camp and then from there you really go back to scout team,” Cousins said. “It is hard to build that because the scout team guys aren’t really covering you, they are just kind of shadowing you. The number of full-speed practices you have to build that repertoire of understanding your players is not as much as you’d like to have. I think the more years together tends to develop that.”

That’s what the Vikings are hoping will happen this year, but it’s another example of why the expectations for the Vikings got out of whack in 2018. This year, the Vikings seem to be in far better position to contend for the playoffs; last year, they got close. This year, maybe they’ll pull it off.

24 responses to “Kirk Cousins is getting more comfortable throwing to Kyle Rudolph when he’s covered

  1. These things would not be encouraging to me as a Vikings fan… He’s just figuring out that you have to trust your receivers now? He genuinely seems like he’s never considered this before. I can’t wait until he says he has finally realized that he is allowed to step away from defenders when he’s in the pocket instead of just hoping that they don’t knock the ball out of his hand.

  2. It’s shocking there is no mention of rookie TE Irv Smith Jr. in the article.

    We were all told this is going to be a huge year for Smith and Rudolph playing together. Viking fan said both will be starting at TE and on the field together the majority of the time. Viking fan said it will be rare for the Vikings to have 3 WR’s on the field this season because this amazing rookie will be playing TE and WR.

  3. I think it’s starting to jell for Cousins because Viking fans have been wishing, hoping, and praying extra hard this off-season.

  4. “He kind of ran out of real estate and stopped, and just had to kind of post-up, just did a great job of walling the defender without committing a pass interference and then making a strong catch.“

    This says 3 things to me:

    1. Cousins isn’t getting the ball out on time. If your receiver has to stop and “post up” that means the ball should have already been delivered.

    2. The defense has lost at least 2 or 7 steps. If they can’t get home or defend a pass in the time that it takes one of the slower TEs in the game today as he runs his route, stops, and then posts up, it says more about the defense than it does Rudolph.

    3. Rudolph doesn’t know what to do when plays break down. “Um…I guess I’ll just stand here.”

    Wins are going to be hard to come by this year for the Vikes.

  5. tokyosandblaster says:
    August 1, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Wins are going to be hard to come by this year for the Vikes.

    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    Not looking at the schedule, I can safely say two easy wins against the pack. poor, poor green and yellows.

  6. freefromwhatyouare, the Barneys say a lot of things that don’t make a whole lot of sense.
    Sometimes it’s just better to just shrug your shoulders and smile, pat them on their pointy, little heads and send them on their way.

  7. I think its tragic that Bud Grant didn’t live long enough to finally witness the Vikings win a Superbowl. Perhaps Cousins and Rudolph could salvage his legacy by honoring him with a championship posthumously.

  8. I really wondered about this dynamic last season. It seemed really untapped – mostly due to Kirk leaning on Diggs and Thielen so hard in big moments. Rudy has lost a step, no doubt, but he still has that big frame and the ability to get up over and/or use his size against smaller defenders.

    Rudy has the hands and the ability to make plays. Unfortunately Kirk didn’t discover that last year. The usage of Rudy more often would help to cover up the hole at WR3, and hopefully allow Irv Smith Jr. to come in with less pressure, despite the high expectations.

  9. Cousins was hesitant to throw it to Diggs and Thielen when they were covered, too. Keenum had success because he just threw the ball out there and let them go get it. Diggs led the league in contested catches in 2017, and I think Thielen was in the top 5 too. If he can bring himself to take a few more chances, we might see more big plays this year.

  10. I have always wondered why the Vikes haven’t targeted him more through the years? He just needs to learn how to fight through the first hit and not go down like a bag of laundry down the shut….

  11. August 1, 2019 at 10:43 am
    The traditionally horrific packer defense will make him happy!
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    ……the traditionally horrific Viking offense won’t.

  12. stellarperformance says:
    August 1, 2019 at 8:10 am
    I think it’s starting to jell for Cousins because Viking fans have been wishing, hoping, and praying extra hard this off-season

    I know you are trying to use this as a put down but I am not too proud to admit it is true in my case. I look forward to each season with renewed optimism and hope. I believe this will be our year and I cross my fingers and hope I am right. I believe every positive article and try to convince myself the columnists who place them in the middle of the pack are wrong. I don’t pray for this but after last years uninspired season I am hoping extra hard that this year they play up to their talent level and potential. So what’s wrong with that?

  13. Cousins was 2nd in completion %. 10th in yards. 10th in QB rating. Cousins 30TD-10INT was actually better then my guy (Tom Brady) 29TD – 11INT.

    And people are acting like he had a bad year?

  14. tokyosandblaster says:
    August 1, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Wins are going to be hard to come by this year for the Vikes
    ____
    Waffle, what’s going to be hard for the Packers is not being shut out at home for a third year in a row.

  15. ragnarthegreat says:
    August 1, 2019 at 11:44 am

    “I believe every positive article and try to convince myself the columnists who place them in the middle of the pack are wrong…..So what’s wrong with that?”

    +++++

    In and of itself, nothing. But when half your fanbase does the same thing while simultaneously insisting every move Green Bay makes is the wrong one…..tiresome.
    And hypocritical.

  16. If Viking fans are wishing, hoping, and praying for success this year, what are Packer fans doing? Do they have some kind of guarantee?

    I know Aaron Rodgers has $98.7 million guaranteed, but that didn’t do much for them last year.

  17. cheeseisfattening says:
    August 1, 2019 at 12:18 pm
    tokyosandblaster says:
    August 1, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Wins are going to be hard to come by this year for the Vikes
    ____
    Waffle, what’s going to be hard for the Packers is not being shut out at home for a third year in a row.
    ____________

    Wrong again, ariana.

  18. Cousins also needs to get comfortable throwing to Diggs and Thielen when they’re covered, because they are two of the best in the league at contested catches, something to which Case Keenum can attest.

  19. After watching Rudy for a few years he often looks covered, but has made some AMAZING contested catches in big situations. Think of all the QBs he’s played with: Ponder, Teddy, Bradford, Keenum, now Cousins and I’m probably missing a couple. II’s amazing Minnesota has had any success. It isn’t a stretch to think this second year together could be very productive.

    Still, if Kyle isn’t past the sticks he probably won’t get past them, as he’s way slow and doesn’t break tackles. Free’s favorite new Viking (Swervin’ Irvin’) might prove a handy target too.

    Enough talk. Play some games!

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