For all the Kirk Cousins non-believers, there are two words for you… Don’t fret.
I was iffy about the situation. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Case Keenum run the offense last season and thought after his performance he would be given another shot in Minnesota to prove that he wasn’t just a one-hit wonder. Obviously I was wrong after Keenum departed for Denver.
After decompressing, I realized that Cousins has the opportunity to thrive with his new offense and here’s why:
No knock to the Washington Redskins, but it didn’t quite have the offensive talent that Minnesota has to offer.
The leading-receiver for Washington last year was Jamison Crowder. He recorded 789 yards from 66 catches, adding three touchdowns in the regular-season.
For the Vikings, Adam Thielen was last year’s leading-wideout with a whopping 91 catches for 1,276 yards and four touchdowns.
According to Athlon Sports, Thielen is ranked 14th among other receivers in the league. Not a single Redskins’ receiver cracked the top-30.
Thielen isn’t the only Viking on that list. The trusted Maryland product, Stefon Diggs was listed just in front of Thielen at 13. Diggs seemed to be the second option for Keenum last season. Diggs recorded 64 catches for 849 yards and eight touchdowns.
Along with one of the top-wideout duos in the league Cousins will have a solid red-zone target in Kyle Rudolph. He tied Diggs with eight touchdowns last season. That put him tied for second with touchdown catches among tight ends. He managed 57 receptions for 532 yards
One aspect that Cousins didn’t really have in Washington was consistency with receivers. Cousins targeted 16 different receivers last season, Keenum had targeted 12 receivers. Now, options aren’t a bad thing to have, but how was Cousins supposed to build chemistry with certain players when he didn’t even have a clear-cut number-two receiver?
It’s safe to say that he will have a solid backfield with Latavius Murray and the return of Dalvin Cook who was averaging 88.5 yards a game before going down for the year. I would expect both backs to have more of an impact in the passing game this season.
Not only does Cousins have top-notch support on the field, but will be working with the new, well-respected offensive coordinator John DeFilippo. He is known to have a great football mind and for bringing out whatever type of potential that a quarterback has.
DeFilippo transformed Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz into a MVP-caliber quarterback in the span of one year, basically. He helped Nick Foles find success in the playoffs last year. If he can do what he did with these two, then it will be interesting to see what he can do with a consistent 4,000 yard passer.
One issue to keep an eye out for is the amount of interceptions Cousins throws this year. He’s known for getting picked-off a little more than some may like. But, that means he’s also not afraid to take chances.
Last season he threw for 13 interceptions, which was tied for seventh in the league. However, according to Pro Football Focus, his deep ball passer rating of 106.4 ranked third among his counterparts last season, only behind Alex Smith (131.4) and Matthew Stafford (111.6). He placed fifth for passes completed over 20 yards with 59 and tied for ninth for passes completed over 40 yards with nine.
Thielen and Diggs together had 34 catches that went for over 20 yards last season, which is great to see because Cousins will have two deep threat options. It will be interesting to see how Laquon Treadwell will play a factor in the deep-ball considering he doesn’t have the best route running. At 6-foot-2 Treadwell could be a good target for Cousins when looking down field.