NFL Analyst Deems Kirk Cousins the Scapegoat for Vikings’ Dynasty of Mediocrity

Kirk Cousins

Getty Kirk Cousins came under fire by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, who connected some shade from former Vikings executive and Broncos GM George Paton.

Believe it or not, the Minnesota Vikings fans are living through a dynasty.

However, it feels like the same old story: a dynasty of mediocrity.

Pro Football Outsiders recently compiled a list of the most average eras in NFL history. Among several criteria, the list simplified looks at the longest spans where teams have hovered around a .500 record.

Minnesota had four eras land on the list — tied for the most of any NFL franchise since 1961. The ’80s, early-’90s and mid-2000s era Vikings all made the list.

However, the latest iteration in Minnesota, known for its star power and Pro Bowler-laden roster, has been deemed the same as its predecessors. The 2014 to 2021 Vikings landed on the list, with Kirk Cousins being the main culprit of their mediocrity. Cousins landed as the featured image of an article titled: “Kirk Cousins, the Vikings, and the Dynasties of Mediocrity.”

But who’s really to blame?

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Cousins or Zimmer?

If there needs to be a sacrificial lamb to justify the latest dynasty of mediocrity, it comes down to Cousins and Mike Zimmer.

Cousins has become the fall guy for the Zimmer dynasty that was 40-27 in its first four years. Minnesota was coming off a run to the NFC title game, going 13-3 in the 2017 regular season with Case Keenum and also won 11 games with Teddy Bridgewater in 2015.

Zimmer emphasized the importance of making a wise decision at quarterback at the 2018 combine. He didn’t want the quarterback to take away from their ability to keep building the roster.

“You just have to pick out the right one [quarterback] that’s going to help your football team the best,” Zimmer said, per the Star Tribune “And where you can still do things at other positions. You don’t want to go crazy here.”

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Then, the Vikings did just that, signing Cousins to a three-year, $84 million deal — the first fully guaranteed contract in NFL history. The Vikings heavily invested in a quarterback as the capstone to a roster building toward greatness.

But after watching a Super Bowl window close to a toiling outside the playoffs the past two seasons, the Cousins-Zimmer combination the past four years washed away the climb Minnesota made through the first half of Zimmer’s tenure.

Which only realized Zimmer’s self-fulfilling prophecy.

“It’s important for myself and Rick and the organization to pick the right guy that is going to help us continue to move forward,” Zimmer said, per the Star Tribune. “If we don’t do that, then I’ll probably be fired.”

However, Zimmer didn’t seem willing to make do with Cousins at quarterback. His decision-making became erratic.

Zimmer cut rookie kicker Daniel Carlson two weeks into the 2018 season after a meltdown against the Green Bay Packers. Carlson has since emerged as one of the NFL’s best kickers with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Zimmer fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo that same season, maintaining the momentum of the offensive coordinator carousel in Minnesota — seven different Vikings offensive coordinators since 2015.

Zimmer continued his abrasive coaching style that wore the team down, evolving into a what Eric Kendricks called a “fear-based” organization in its final days. Zimmer and Spielman didn’t speak for months in their last days in Minnesota in the middle of the 2021 season. The team had lost faith in its leadership just as much as the leadership had lost faith in the roster it built.

Zimmer grew cantankerous throughout the Cousins era as his grip on the Vikings began to slip away from his hands once Cousins arrived. The Vikings have gone 34-32-1 since then.

Whether Zimmer was right about Cousins will be determined in the next two seasons with the new regime signing Cousins to a contract extension through 2023.

New Regime Doubles Down on Cousins

Cousins becoming the figurehead of Football Outsiders’ mediocrity piece is another symbol of the veteran quarterback’s reputation in the NFL.

Football Outsiders credited Cousins with leading two different franchises to mediocrity in his career in Minnesota and Washington. He’ll look to change course with newly hired head coach Kevin O’Connell.

O’Connell is coming off a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams where, as offensive coordinator, he helped Matthew Stafford buck his old reputation as an empty-calorie stat padder into Super Bowl champion.

But the Rams had one of the NFL’s best defenses to complement Stafford and the cap space to make blockbuster moves like trading for Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr.

In Minnesota, O’Connell will have to make do with antiquated pieces of Zimmer’s once-vaunted defense that saw some veteran reinforcements like Za’Darius Smith and Harrison Phillips.

It won’t be the same defense that carried the Vikings to two NFC North championships and a deep playoff run in the first half of Zimmer’s tenure, which leaves the rest to Cousins and O’Connell.

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JR & The Boys
JR & The Boys
4 days ago

Next 2yrs will answer all questions…..

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