It’s become clear that introducing a new regime within the Minnesota Vikings has been a mere changing of the guard.
First-year general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who has stated that collaboration within the Vikings organization will be his M.O., put the final stamp on a one-year contract extension for quarterback Kirk Cousins, tying himself to Cousins for half the duration of his own four-year deal contract with Minnesota.
It’s a gamble, given former general manager Rick Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer’s failure to get the Vikings closer to a Super Bowl after bringing Cousins aboard in 2018.
However, Adofo-Mensah and newly hired head coach Kevin O’Connell have brought a breath of new life in Minnesota, which is maintaining a win-now mentality.
And Cousins is driving that message home.
Former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber revealed on his “Unrestricted with Ben Leber” podcast that Cousins held a team meeting that shocked many of his teammates.
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‘Kirk Blew Everybody Away’
On the March 21 episode of his podcast, Leber shared inside information on a team meeting that Cousins called shortly after the end of the 2021 season to discuss the disappointing season.
Cousins came to the meeting with notes he’d taken throughout the year, leaving attendees impressed by Cousins’ thoroughness and his desire to win in 2022.
There was a meeting — all of the biggest names on the team at this meeting — and Kirk blew everybody away. In how he handled it the things that were said, the things that were said in that group, ’cause it wasn’t just players there. There were other people within the organization there. Apparently, a couple of guys walked out of the meeting and said, ‘Kirk’s our dog. Kirk’s our freaking dog.’
Apparently, Kirk came in very prepared for this type of meeting. Apparently, he had been taking notes all season long and laid it all out. I guess the guys were like, ‘Damn, this is a guy that we can ride with that’s going to have our backs at all times…’
Kirk’s been listening. And Kirk’s been writing stuff down. And Kirk has the team’s back.
Leber added that he “was really excited when they did announce the extension [because] I want to see what this guy does with a head coach that actually respects him.”
Listen to the full segment at 1:10:00.
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The Ball Is In Cousins’ Court
Throughout the first four years of Cousins’ tenure in Minnesota, the Vikings tried to win Zimmer’s way.
And Cousins wasn’t the fit at quarterback that Zimmer wanted.
Amid mounting tension between the coach and quarterback, they tried to make amends by holding weekly film sessions together.
Despite playing like a top 10 quarterback over the past two seasons, Cousins hasn’t led the Vikings to a winning record since 2019.
But Minnesota appears to be doubling down on Cousins by hiring an offensive-minded head coach who has a favorable opinion of him, keeping the offense intact and rebuilding the defense with key restructures and adding pivotal veterans like Za’Darius Smith.
Will it be enough to flip three or four losses to wins next season? That remains to be seen.
But it appears the Vikings are going for one last ride with Cousins before his contract expires in 2024.