Report: Mike Zimmer openly complained about Kirk Cousins late in the 2021 season

Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer left and  quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) went over a play during Minnesota Vikings training camp at TCO Performance center Saturday July 28, 2018 in Eagan, MN. ]  JERRY HOLT •
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The Vikings have a new G.M. and coach but, for now, the same quarterback. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the former coach and the current quarterback had reached the limit of their relationship.

Via Chad Graff of, Mike Zimmer “complained openly in coaching meetings about [Kirk] Cousins” last season. Graff adds that “some of Zimmer’s top lieutenants echoed the sentiment.”

The problem, per Graff, was that Zimmer didn’t believe Cousins made enough “winning plays,” that he didn’t elevate teammates, and he didn’t take the chances that were necessary to secure victories.

Some of that bubbled up in late November, with Zimmer publicly saying he wanted Cousins to keep being aggressive, after Cousins said he was perhaps too aggressive in a win over the Packers. Cousins responded by saying he’ll be as aggressive as coaches tell him to be.

Zimmer’s assessments, as listed by Graff, are all accurate. Cousins performs well much of the time. At certain key moments, however, he doesn’t get it done. Specifically, when the play that has been called goes to pot, Cousins can’t effectively improvise into an unscripted opportunity to salvage the situation.

Cousins, for all the money he has earned since entering the league a decade ago, has one career playoff win. In four years with the Vikings, he has led the team to the postseason only once.

With the Vikings hiring a coach who has worked with Cousins, the thinking is that the Kevin O’Connell regime will retain Cousins. However, he’s under contract only through the coming season, and he has shown no inclination to sign an extension that would reduce a $45 million cap number for 2022.

Time will tell whether Cousins completes a clean sweep in Minnesota, whether the two sides renew their vows, or whether Cousins plays 2022 with no deal for 2023 or beyond.

22 responses to “Report: Mike Zimmer openly complained about Kirk Cousins late in the 2021 season

  1. Cousins is great at padding stats and looking great on paper but he doesn’t just disappear in big moments he shrinks and gets panicked and misses the play. He’s very frustrating because you know you’ll never win anything meaningful with him but going into QB purgatory without him could make for some painful years ahead for the offense.

  2. But but but . . . those Packers have it much worse with a quarterback who only has one ring with the club.

  3. I agree that Cousins doesn’t improvise well when a play breaks down (as compared to Russ Wilson, who is great at that).

    But, Cousins is a good QB — top 25% IMHO — and he can take a club to the promised land, provided that he has (1) a good supporting cast, and (2) an innovative coach who can optimize his talents and minimize the things he’s not good at.

    To date, his supporting cast of skilled players (incl. Jefferson, Thielen and Cook) has been very good, but the IOL has been very bad, putting Cousins under pressure to get rid of the ball quickly. Then there was Zimmer, who implemented a conservative offense. All of that limited Cousins’s effectiveness.

    If the Vikings can fix the IOL and implement a modern, innovative offense, Cousins will excel. After all, it was no coincidence that Shanahan wanted to sign Cousins with the 49ers.

    Lastly, to those Vikings fans who want to dump Cousins, who will replace him and what production do you expect the new QB to have? Be careful who you wish for.

  4. The Vikings play the season out with Cousins, and draft a QB with the idea of replacing cousins in 2023. They are locked into that contract with Cousins – no reason to extend him, and it is doubtful at that salary he is tradable. Make the best of a situation.

  5. I openly complained about Cousins from my couch. I also openly complained about the O-Line and the defense.

  6. Poor Cousins….he gets all the blame…but when you score 35 points and lose..or are winning with 2 minutes lefts…and your D gives up 15 yards a play in those 2 minutes…or as in the Detroit game…you play prevent on the goal line…Dang cousins sucks…

  7. If I am not mistaken, Mathew Stafford never won a playoff game with the Lions.
    Traded to a different team, he won them all. Chances are if Cousins was the Rams quarterback, they would still have won the super bowl.

  8. Kirk Cousins threw an INT against the Pack in the game that the Vikes won. Only the obvious INT didnt hold up under review because the Dback didnt hold the interception all the way to the ground. So instead of a W – it should really have been an L. If you call that being aggressive – tend to disagree – call that not showing ball security. But that is why they play the games – but Cousins seems not to get it done – bottom line

  9. Im still trying to find out Cousins number on defense….because that is why the Vikings lose..not because of the QB…back in the day if you could hold a team to 17…you had a good chance of should not score over 30 points and lose..but its Cousins fault that the D cant get off the field…got it..

  10. Typical Zimmer, blame everybody else. I’ve said it many times here…the guy was in WAY over his head as a head coach. He was only a decent defensive coordinator when there was a head coach with a defensive background. I wish the Vikings had been their usual inept selves and kept him around.

  11. No wonder Cousins and Zimmer were engaging in fisticuffs on the sidelines.
    This explains a lot.
    Who would of thought there was trouble in paradise. 🤔

  12. Cousins is one of the best game-managers in the NFL. He’ll never be a game-changer.

  13. Mike Zimmer’s only offensive suggestions ever amounted to “let’s run the ball with RB$1” and he was blaming the QB for not being aggressive enough?

  14. It seems like there is plenty of blame to go around for the last 2 seasons. While it’s true Cousins can shrink in the big moments, Zimmer and Spielman knew that. They signed him thinking he was the upgrade over Case Keenum that would get them into the Super Bowl with a team that was on the doorstep. That doorstep disintegrated quickly and Zimmer could never field a team as good as that 2019 squad. That’s on Zim (and Spielman). Kirk didn’t stop being who he was, Zimmer stopped being who he was in terms of putting together a top-notch defense. Openly complaining as the head coach is just a bad look and shows a lack of leadership and responsibility.

  15. It was a weird scenario when often times the QB wasn’t aggressive because of the play calls and the play calls weren’t aggressive because of the QB. All I know is an elite QB converts more than 35% of their third downs. Kirk and Zimmer were both far too comfortable playing for the punt.

  16. Zimmer interference with each of his 6 different O coordinators to run more , his nepotism & his defense that was exposed by Phi in 2017 is just as big a factor as Kirk Cousins sucking, but that’s also the case.

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