Last week, NFL Network’s Good Morning Football hosts discussed whether the Minnesota Vikings’ success in 2020 will be “completely reliant” on quarterback Kirk Cousins, given the losses on defense this year.
Nate Burleson, a former Vikings wide receiver and 2003 third-round pick, took stock of the Vikings offense and asserted it has all the weapons to remain one of the league’s leading offenses, and its success will be on the coaches to scheme and players to perform.
“I do feel like they have all the pieces… We all saw some plays last year where Dalvin Cook — at certain points, he looked like the best running back in football,” Burleson said. “You have a really good QB, you have one of the best running backs, you have wide receivers and tight ends, it’s on the coaching staff more than it is on Kirk Cousins. I feel like the pressure is something that should be spread around amongst everybody.”
Co-host Kyle Brandt added that with the coaching staff left to re-tool the defense, Cousins and the offense could be leaned on more this season.
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Cousins Receives High Grades in 2019
While 2019 was the first season Cousins has thrown for under 4,000 yards as a full-time starter, it was his most efficient year by far. He threw a career-low 6 interceptions and was fourth in completion percentage (69.1) as a starter. And don’t forget the intangibles that come with helping beat future Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees in one of the loudest stadiums in the country during the NFC Divisional Wild Card round — his first playoff win in his career.
Cousins finished the season with the league’s top play-action passer rating — a culmination of many things he’s done well. ProFootball Focus evaluated every NFL throw in the first 11 weeks of last season and found Cousins had the highest passer ratings on designed roll outs and finding receivers out wide and on crossing routes. When the run game is rolling, Cousins has shown he’s capable of taking advantage.
Despite former offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski leaving to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Gary Kubiak stepping into the role should give the offense continuity after working with the team as an advisor a season ago.
Continuing to Fit the Scheme
While the Vikings have committed to a defensive overhaul this season, Minnesota spent two of its first three drafts picks on offensive talent in LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland.
Jefferson is a big-bodied slot receiver who posted the highest catch-rate in the NCAA last year is poised to be a safety net across the middle for Cousins. Cleveland, standing 6-foot-6, ran the third-fastest 40-yard dash among offensive linemen in the 2020 draft class and played in a zone running scheme in college.
Both rookies are expected to contribute this season as those early-round draft picks were evident reinvestments in the offense and Cousins’ future.
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