Kirk Cousins plans to look for more “off schedule” run opportunities

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Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins may be adding something to his game this year: Scrambling.

Coach Mike Zimmer recently explained that the team wants to see Cousins take advantage of the opportunities that may present themselves to tuck the ball and run, especially when the team’s offensive weapons are blanketed down the field by man-to-man coverage. On Friday, Cousins explained that, when it happens, it won’t be planned.

“I think it’s more off schedule,” Cousins told reporters. “I always felt like that’s a missing element in my game. The ability to not only run for yards but run around and then make throws. I was talking with Fran Tarkenton this winter and Fran said, ‘Kirk, I only ran a 4.90 40[-yard dash]. I wasn’t fast, but I ran around to then be able to throw.’ I play with rhythm and timing, so I’m not trying to play off schedule all the time, but I think I have the ability to run around a little bit and I think I have the arm to make those throws. So, it’s just a matter of doing it. It’s so important that it’s instinctual. When the ball is snapped, you can’t say on this play, ‘I’m going to give up on my read and just run around.’ It has to be when the play breaks down. That’s the hard part, training your body and mind to do that, so it was good in the game [against the Saints] to have that moment where it did break down, the protection was loose, and my instinct was to take off and run. The fact that it was man coverage is what made it a conversion, if it’s zone coverage I probably get tackled and we punt. It has more to do with the defensive look combined with the run attempt than it does just the run attempt.”

Last year, Cousins routinely could be gobbled up by pressure when flushed out of the pocket, unlike Case Keenum in 2017. So it’s really not about mobility for Cousins but opportunity, and he’ll apparently be looking for those opportunities in a given game.

“It’s really hard with a red jersey,” Cousins said regarding developing the ability to run while practicing. “That’s why you say you don’t really know a lot about yourself until you get into live bullets, because with a red jersey, we’re going to argue back and forth all day long that, ‘Oh he was sacked’ and, ‘No I wasn’t, and I would have slipped out of that and I spun away.’ That’s kind of the ongoing banter between the offense and the defense all training camp long and OTAs. It’s been hard to train, because you aren’t really getting hit so you don’t know when you can realistically escape pressure and when you have to say, ‘Hey I was sacked there, and I can’t get away with that.’ You kind of just have to learn it in live bullets, and time will tell if I’m going to do that or not. Again, there are a lot of guys that are going to be in the Hall of Fame who didn’t have that element to their game. You don’t necessarily need it, I just think it’s an added bonus. Our coaches have said, ‘There’s probably more there in your game than you have let on.'”

Even though Tarkenton may not have had the straight-line speed, he had the agility to buy time with his feet. Cousins hasn’t shown that yet. And the fact that he hasn’t may give him chances to do that which he previously hasn’t done, since defenses won’t be expecting it.

Of course, there’s a risk to running. Former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper wasn’t shy about tucking the ball and running with it, but it eventually caught up with him in 2005, when a hit from the side in Carolina resulted in a serious knee injury. Culpepper was never really the same after that.

For Cousins, periodically taking advantage of the opportunities to run will eventually force defenses to account for it, which could make it easier for him to find open receivers. Before defenses react, however, Cousins has to show that he can do it, and that he can do it smartly. He’ll apparently test it out in the preseason; whether he can pull it off in the regular season remains to be seen.

36 responses to “Kirk Cousins plans to look for more “off schedule” run opportunities

  1. The best time to try it out is against the Packers, in the second game, because they don’t have a defense. They’ve always depended on Aaron to bail them out, but he’s getting too old to do that anymore so that makes it a perfect time to try out the off schedule running.

  2. He doesn’t have that ability, and when he tries to run more, it will mean more fumbles. Sometimes you have to accept just being average.

  3. He has the athletic ability to scramble and run, and as a player who has improved every year, this could add to his repertoire. A caution – Cousins plays at around 200 pounds – be careful out there!

  4. Minnesota doesn’t do well in drafting QB’s, only a few of them turned out, Culpepper was decent, Tark.. Tommy Kramer, he was decent but didn’t have the surrounding cast.
    On the other hand, nearly every established QB that has come to Minnesota have had career best stats while with the club.
    Cousin most likely added 1-2 more wins a season with the scrambling aspect. Captain Kirk has just taken a huge step forward. I remember screaming at him during games when he had 1st downs wasted by not running for them!

  5. Fran was pretty fast… especially in his 20’s. There were times he just looked much faster than anyone on the field.

  6. Our coaches have said, “There’s probably more there in your game than you have let on.”

    More proof that even the Vikings coaches can’t believe how much Kirk Cousins sucks and are hoping/praying for any sign of real talent.

  7. Tarkinton was so elusive it was a thing of beauty to watch. He ducked under pressure, slipped left or right, spun and kept the play alive. No disrespect to Cousins, but that is a rare quality that not everybody has and can’t be taught. I am sure Cousins can improve but this may never be an significant element of his game. Kirk had no pocket presence whatsoever. He couldn’t feel the pressure until he was sacked. And this was in small spot on the field. I don’t see him doing any better in the open field.

  8. It sure sounds like they have a lot of faith in the new O-line. They’re already planning around it.

  9. Kirk needs pocket awareness. I don’t think that can be taught. You either have it or you don’t. Yes, the line wasn’t good last year. But, he still had a good year statistically speaking. The line will be better with the new additions and more important stable coaching. We need to see if this guys worth it going forward. He has to improve the fumble issues.

  10. I’m pretty sure Steve Largent ran like a 4.8 40 but lead all major receiving categories until Jerry Rice came a long.

    Point is, theres other aspects of the game that cant be taught.Instincts, intuition,toughness, grit, tenacity and the absolute will to win.

    Kirk has none of those things.

  11. In two days Cousins celebrates his 31st birthday. He has 502 yards rushing in 78 games.

    He doesn’t scramble because he doesn’t recognize when he has the opportunity to. Not his skill set, and poor instincts.

  12. People say he could get hurt and fumble more if he’s running with the ball. I disagree. You’re much more likely to fumble or take a big hit if you’re standing in the pocket like a statue, which is basically what Cousins does. If you have a wide open running lane in front of you and can slide as soon as a defender gets within five yards of you, you’re very unlikely to get hit. Cousins will never be a scrambler, running around behind the line of scrimmage until a receiver gets open. But he can certainly be a runner when the opportunity presents itself. When he shows his willingness to run when everyone has their back turned, the defense will have to account for him and that helps everyone else get open.

  13. So we’re talking about the 90 million dollar fully guaranteed man having to try to learn a new skill to be successful.

    Great freaking signing guys. I wouldn’t care except you screwed up QB contracts for the rest of the league in your quest to make dumb signings.

  14. He should really focus on beating a team that’s ya know decent, above average. I know Vikings fans are proud of their 2 year win streak over a struggling Packers team, but I swore aspirations were higher. I guess when you realize you aren’t gonna win it all, or maybe even just make the playoffs, ya take what you can get.

  15. Kirk Cousins is 31 yrs old(in 2 days) and the fact that the Vikings coaches are still talking about what he maybe can become is not a good sign at all.

    At 31 yrs old for a QB there is no more “potential” talk. If there is that talk it is trying to gloss over and hide the deficiencies that actually are a part of who Kirk Cousins as a QB. Trying to hide those deficiencies by saying things like maybe he can bring out more of a run game now is laughable.

  16. djvh2 says:
    August 17, 2019 at 1:22 am
    He doesn’t have that ability, and when he tries to run more, it will mean more fumbles. Sometimes you have to accept just being average.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Then I guess I didn’t see him running for how many yards was it 10 or 20, against the starting line of one of the best teams in the League. The haters will hats, Trollers will TROLL, Flamers will Flame, and the Doubters will Doubt! Last year was the perfect storm for a season like that. A team with an ego a bit inflated, a new QB in a new system, The NEW OC who thought he didn’t need to listen to the head coach and GM, the sudden death of their Offensive line coach, but he wasn’t just a line coach. He was the calming factor and middleman between factions of the team that tended to butt heads with one another. Does anybody remember a frustrated Defensive coach Buddy Ryan, punching the Offensive Coach on a televised game? There is structure now. A new assistant Coach in Gary Kubiak with Super Bowl experience, an improved Offensive line, a number of starters not worrying about a contract year.. I for one feel this team is going to be much improved this year.. The Bears arent going to have the NFCN Division handed to them!!

  17. LIKEtheVIKE says:
    August 17, 2019 at 2:19 am

    Minnesota doesn’t do well in drafting QB’s, only a few of them turned out, Culpepper was decent, Tark.. Tommy Kramer, he was decent but didn’t have the surrounding cast.
    On the other hand, nearly every established QB that has come to Minnesota have had career best stats while with the club.

    ——————————————

    They really haven’t drafted too many. From their inception in 1962 until the 1990s they always had a quality QB that they drafted. Tarkenton, Kramer, and then Wade Wilson- who made a Pro bowl and almost took the team to a Super Bowl. Even Dils wasn’t too bad. That’s a good stretch. After Gannon played for a couple years, that’s where they went into the rent a QB, until Culpepper, who should have been their QB for the next 15 years, but that ended with his injury in 2004. That’s when the rent a QB began again and that stretch was bad. Mixed in with that, they drafted some turkeys like TJack, John David Booty, Webb and Ponder until Teddy. And just like Culpepper it could have been something great.

  18. cheeseisfattening says:
    August 17, 2019 at 6:25 pm
    It’s 5-1-1 since 2015 but you’re correct sir, cousins and the Vikings should focus on beating good teams.
    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    5-1-1 in 3.5 seasons, not four. In the past four seasons it’s 5-2-1. You forgot to point out your preference for picking and choosing whatever timeframe suits you best.

    Normally, it would be five seasons (5-4-1,) or ten (8-10-2.) You go ahead and stick with your selective and self-serving deduction at 3.5 years. It’s odd…..but it’s understandable knowing you’re reaching for anything you can get.

  19. What ticked me off was the sideline shot of “Captain Kirk” chewing out Diggs and Thielan because he didn’t have enough time in the pocket for them to complete their routes.Bridgewater could scramble, Keenum adlibbed and got us to a championship game. Anything this $84,000,000 wonder can learn is welcomed at this point in time.

  20. 5-1-1 in 3.5 seasons, not four. In the past four seasons it’s 5-2-1. You forgot to point out your preference for picking and choosing whatever timeframe suits you best.
    ____
    It’s every game played since 2016 began. Since Rodgers decline began. Not random.

  21. So since Rodgers began his decline in 2016 (your words) Rodgers has two playoff victories.
    And yet a Viking team supposedly “loaded with talent” and enjoying multiple quarterbacks having their best season has just one playoff victory. Why the lack of success, do you think?

  22. Multiple QB’s. That’s the answer. And with multiple Qb’s the Vikings still have the best record in the conference over the last 4 years.

  23. And yet a Viking team supposedly “loaded with talent” and enjoying multiple quarterbacks having their best season has just one playoff victory. Why the lack of success, do you think?
    ———–
    OL, QB play

  24. LIKEtheVIKE says:
    August 17, 2019 at 2:19 am
    Minnesota doesn’t do well in drafting QB’s, only a few of them turned out, Culpepper was decent,
    ________

    I agree they have stunk at developing QBs which is why they find themselves in FA getting a ever 3-5 years, after they give up on the QB they drafted, Culpepper was closest to be a franchise QB, but I believe any QB with two HOF WRs will end up looking like a potential franchise QB.

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