The passing game of the Minnesota Vikings has been inconsistent at best, but don’t place all of the blame on quarterback Kirk Cousins.
The Minnesota Vikings are only four games into the 2019 NFL season and judging by a lot of the reaction on Twitter, the season is over and it is quarterback Kirk Cousins’ fault—but don’t fall for the easy scapegoat because of his position or his contract.
The fault is not his.
Never mind that the team sits at 2-2, a better start than last year and the same result after four games in 2017, a season they finished 13-3. Since Mike Zimmer took over as head coach in 2014, the Vikings have started the season better than 2-2 only once. That came in 2016 when they stated 4-0, but finished at 8-8.
This is only the second time Zimmer has had the same starting quarterback in consecutive seasons. In his first two years as head coach with Teddy Bridgewater leading the offense, the Minnesota Vikings improved by four games from 7-9 in 2014 to 11-5 in 2015. During those two seasons, the Vikings offense also had consistency at the coordinator position with Norv Turner calling the plays. Current offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski has only held the position for a total of eight games – that’s just half of a season.
As inconsistent as the Vikings’ offense has been, the fault does not lie at the feet of Cousins, nor in his hands. With more than 21,000 career passing yards and 132 touchdowns in 82 games over eight seasons, Cousins has not suddenly forgotten how to throw a football.
Significant changes were made this offseason to the offensive coaching staff. Along with the addition of Gary Kubiak as Assistant head Coach and Offensive Adviser, other positional coaching changes made this season include at wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, and quarterbacks—the only consistency from last year is at running backs. Without a doubt, this has impacted the efficiency and consistency of the offense. That makes it impossible to have any consistency carry over from last season when Cousins threw for more 4,000 yards and wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs both have career highs in receiving yards. With all these changes there is no way the offense is where Stefanski wants it.
But the offense is much more like Zimmer wants it. Zimmer is looking for a run-first approach—something that he and former offensive coordinator John DeFilippo did not appear to agree on.
With a new quarterback coach working with Cousins during the week, and a different coordinator speaking to him in his helmet on Sundays, along with a new assistant head coach brought on board to improve the running game—which he has done very well, perhaps at the expense of the passing game, it is easy to see why the Vikings’ passing game has become dysfunctional and our high-priced wide receivers disgruntled.
It would seem that Zimmer has moved on from breaking kickers to messing up quarterbacks. If Cousins were allowed to be the quarterback he was last season, Diggs and Thielen might have 400 more receiving yards and at least two more touchdowns. That alone is the difference between being 2-2 and perhaps 3-1, And Kirk Cousins would not be in everyone’s doghouse.
My point exactly.