3 ways the Vikings can turn their 2021 season around.

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Mike Zimmer
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) Mike Zimmer /
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Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings /

Change #2: Kirk Cousins Needs to Look Downfield

There are very few quarterbacks that get a more split opinion on them than Kirk Cousins does. Whether you like and support him or believe Minnesota has to move on from him, one thing is pretty clear: Kirk has to be better.

In a quarterback-driven league, teams live and die by the performance of their signal-caller, and whether it is fair or not to blame Cousins for Minnesota’s struggles during the year, there is no denying that he can and needs to be better. Especially if Minnesota has any chance of reviving their season. Cousins has a lot of areas he could improve upon, as the entire team does, but one area specifically is taking more shots down the field. According to Pro Football Reference, ranks 22nd in the league in air yards per completion, and 30th in the league in intended yards per target. Long story short, Cousins is not throwing the ball down the field often, and he has not been looking to do so either.

The Vikings have never been a team that will air it out a ton like a Kansas City, Arizona, or Buffalo, but even dating to last season Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense was at least slightly above league average in both air yards and intended air yards. Seeing the dip down towards the bottom of the league shows that Cousins has to be willing to throw the ball downfield.

As a franchise QB, you have to be able to check out of certain play calls and protections when given the opportunity to do so. Cousins hasn’t shown this year that he can do that. He has one of the best, if not the best wide receiving duos in the league in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, targeting the check-downs on every play does not maximize those receiving weapons to their fullest potential.

With the NFL a pass-happy and a big play-driven league, the Vikings are going to need Kirk Cousins to start finding ways to make bigger plays more often if they want to make a playoff push.