Their miscommunication on the game’s final play where Cousins did not clock the ball and threw a game-ending interception will be the A-topic in the aftermath of a 28-24 loss. A moment earlier at the beginning of the second half has equal intrigue.
Star Tribune columnist Michael Rand noted an exchange between O’Connell and Cousins after the veteran quarterback did not convert on third down and posted the footage to X (formerly Twitter).
Kevin O’Connell Frustrated With Kirk Cousins in Vikings’ Loss to Chargers
Facing third-and-3 on the Vikings’ opening drive of the second half, Cousins had several short and intermediate receiving options while taking a snap in shotgun. Under duress, Cousins heaved the ball deep incomplete to Justin Jefferson in a play that resulted in an incompletion.
The Fox broadcast captured O’Connell’s frustration by the sequence of events, followed by him talking to Cousins on the sidelines. Cousins seems to balk at the conversation before unsnapping his helmet and walking away. The broadcast showed the two reconvening moments later.
Broadcaster Mark Sanchez, a former NFL quarterback, deciphered O’Connell’s possible frustration with the play.
“He’s got two routes underneath, one by (Alexander) Mattison and then you’re going to see the under route on the outside by (K.J.) Osborn,” Sanchez said. “He’s throwing the deep route, but here you see the route underneath. … I think Kevin thought he was going to (throw) back underneath. Uncharacteristic of Cousins.”
We can’t be certain of the conversation had after the play, but that would be a logical source of frustration.
The exchange was still far from the heated exchange Cousins had with his former coach Mike Zimmer in 2021, but does reveal the disconnect that emerges between what O’Connell sees and what he wants Cousins to see.
And with an 0-3 start to the season, their relationship will be one to keep an eye on as Cousins is playing on an expiring contract this fall.
Kevin O’Connell Addresses Miscommunication With Kirk Cousins on Game’s Final Play
In a postgame press conference., O’Connell addressed the final play of the game where the Vikings drained 25 seconds on the play clock before running a hurry-up call. Cousins threw the ball to T.J. Hockenson, who couldn’t secure the ball, and led to a tipped interception to end the game.
The crowd noise affected Cousins’ ability to hear the play call, which led to the setup taking more time.
“Looking back, I wish I would’ve clocked it and not tried to steal one there,” O’Connell said. “He (Cousins) was having trouble hearing me at first. By the time he pieced it together, enough clock had gone off. We should have just clocked it at that point.”
Cousins said he didn’t hear the play call at all and happened to call the play that O’Connell wanted. He also stood by his decision to throw the ball away from Hockenson’s frame.
“I think with the clock winding to where it was I felt like I’m going to put this off of T.J.’s frame in ours or nobody’s spot, and it’s like a clock. And it’s either ours for a touchdown to win the game or it’s incomplete. I’m going to put it off away from his frame and to a safe spot. You don’t expect the ball to bounce up twice in the air and get intercepted, but my thought was the quicker I can get this thing out, put it to a safe spot, we give ourselves another chance, if, in fact, it is incomplete,” Cousins said.