While all the insights into the quarterback and coach’s troubling relationship have come from secondhand reports, neither Cousins nor Zimmer had addressed numerous reports that signaled a rift between the two — until now.
Cousins, speaking publicly about his relationship with Zimmer, broke his silence on the matter.
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‘He Was an Asset to My Career’
Appearing on KFAN with Dan Barrero on August 11, Cousins spoke on his relationship with Zimmer, saying the perceived feud between his former coach and him has been “misreported” amid an offseason where the Vikings have pushed to change the identity of the franchise after players came out about a “fear-based” culture in Minnesota.
“I was fortunate enough to go to two Pro Bowls under coach Zimmer. We won a playoff game, a very difficult playoff game that nobody gave us a chance to win. I’ve gotten better every year I’ve been here. And I look back on my years with Coach Zimmer and I say he was very good to me,” Cousins said. “I wish we would have won more games, the head coach and quarterback take the brunt of that — they always have, they always will. I think it’s been a bit misreported I think he was an asset to my career very much so and I think that’s been lost in the offseason.”
The highest point of Cousins’ tenure with Zimmer was the 2019 NFC Wild Card round walk-off victory over New Orleans. Cousins completed 19 of 31 passes for 242 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions in his first career playoff win. It ultimately landed Zimmer and Rick Spielman three-year contract extensions the following offseason — which were cut short after the Vikings missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
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‘It’s Been Overblown’
Cousins credited Zimmer with emphasizing ball security as a quarterback. Cousins has thrown under a 2% interception rate in Minnesota besides the 2020 season, when he led the league with 10 interceptions through the first six games. He finished that season throwing 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions in the final 10 games.
Asked whether having a quarterback-friendly coach like Kevin O’Connell has been a better experience than a defensive guru like Zimmer, Cousins opted to not take any sides.
“What Coach Zimmer did a great job with me on was protecting the football. And making good decisions with the football,” Cousins said. “It’s been good dialogue with Kevin [O’Connell]. He’s doing a good job leading our whole team. We want o make sure the offense — myself, Dalvin, Adam [Thielen], Justin [Jefferson], Brian O’Neill, guys who have started a lot of football games — that we help a first-year head coach and we don’t put too much on him, and we as players step to the plate and play at a very high level like veterans should to help this team win football games.
Barrero, acknowledging numerous reports of Zimmer’s distaste for Cousins, prodded Cousins one final time about the relationship between Zimmer and him, however, Cousins remained tight-lipped and stood with the positives he took from his former coach.
“It’s been very overblown,” Cousins added.