In their Monday Night Football loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Minnesota Vikings allowed 444 yards of total offense. The Seahawks rushed for 218 yards, averaged five yards per carry on the ground, and held the football for nearly 40 minutes. They gave up a 60-yard touchdown pass to a player that was open by five yards and got ripped by a fake punt in the fourth quarter.
And what was the narrative in the immediate aftermath of the loss?
Kirk Cousins is now 0-8 on MNF.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 3, 2019
The worst record in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/m9A5trVGXu
Yes, Kirk Cousins is 0-8 on Monday Night Football in his NFL career. I’m not sure how many of the other seven losses were his fault, but I can damn sure tell you that the eighth one was not. My favorite response to this came from former St. Paul Pioneer Press sportswriter Brian Murphy.
Kirk Cousins simply cannot allow 400-plus yards on defense and expect to be considered an elite quarterback. #Vikings— Brian Murphy (@murphmedia_) December 3, 2019
But this is the narrative that has been chosen, and though it’s a stupid and lazy narrative, it’s also the most common one. After all, as they say, the low-hanging fruit is the easiest to reach.
I’m honestly not sure what the hell else Kirk Cousins has to do to impress people. On the season, he’s now completed 69.3% of his passes and thrown for 23 touchdowns against just four interceptions. And you can’t chalk it up to “garbage time” statistics, as we heard so often last year, because the Vikings haven’t been in a lot of those situations this season.
In the last ten games, he has thrown two interceptions, both of which went off of the hands of Stefon Diggs and into the hands of a defensive player. He played most of the last six weeks without (arguably) his best wide receiver, and played basically the entire second half on Monday night without his starting left tackle.
Oh, and Dalvin Cook missed the second half with an injury, too. He’s been alright this season, if nobody had noticed.
But, after getting down 34-17, it was Cousins that got this team back into a position to potentially win, despite his team having a 2-to-1 disadvantage in time of possession. Yes, the last offensive drive came up short, and if people want to get angry about that, that’s fine. But without Cousins, they’re not in that position in the first place.
When the Vikings signed Kirk Cousins, it was with the belief that he was the “missing piece” to the Vikings having a shot at winning a Super Bowl. However, when you label someone as the “missing piece,” it brings the implication that all. . .not some, but all. . .of the other pieces are in place.
And, with that in mind, I would like to turn your attention to the Minnesota Vikings’ defense.
The Vikings have six players on the defensive side of the ball that have trips to the Pro Bowl on their resume: Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr, Xavier Rhodes, and Harrison Smith. Eric Kendricks doesn’t have a Pro Bowl under his belt yet, but that should change this year, so there are basically seven Pro Bowlers on that side of the ball for Minnesota.
With that in mind, here’s what we’ve seen from the Minnesota defense the past four games:
- Losing to a Matt Moore-led Kansas City Chiefs team thanks to an inability to cover Tyreek Hill and giving up a 91-yard touchdown run straight down Broadway.
- Giving up nearly 400 passing yards to Dak Prescott on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys, including over 100 yards to the fossilized husk of what used to be Randall Cobb.
- Getting down 20-0 at halftime at home to the Denver Broncos, led by a rookie quarterback making his first-ever NFL road start. (Yes, they turned it around in the second half, but it shouldn’t have taken that.)
- Allowing over 200 rush yards and nearly 40 minutes in time of possession to Seattle on Monday Night Football when they were coming off of a bye.
At this point, Kirk Cousins is nowhere near the Minnesota Vikings’ biggest problem. The Minnesota Vikings’ offense is nowhere near the Minnesota Vikings’ biggest problem, and that will become even more apparent when Adam Thielen finally gets back. If any of the self-styled football experts out there wanted to take a second and look around, it would be relatively easy for them to see that.
But that’s not what gets “the clicks” or “the views” or what have you, so we’re going to continue hearing the garbage about Kirk Cousins and his “failures.” Even when it’s abundantly clear that the Vikings’ failures are not necessarily on him.
Anybody that’s still going on about this kind of thing when they’re talking about Cousins is never, ever going to be impressed by Cousins or give him anything even remotely resembling a fair shake. There will always be a reason for them to disparage Cousins, or to move the goalposts to their liking at a particular moment. If that’s the tack that people want to take, that’s fine, they can do that.
But, if we’re being completely honest, there’s no reason to take Kirk Cousins haters seriously at this point. I certainly don’t see any, at any rate.