It was a bold move after watching his predecessor Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer lose their jobs after a decline in the franchise’s success since Cousins came to Minnesota in 2018.
But Adofo-Mensah believes with a new head coach and culture, Cousins can elevate and break through his reputation as a middling quarterback.
The Vikings general manager spoke to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio about his expectations of Cousins for the next two seasons he’s under contract.
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Cousins a ‘Partner’ in New Regime
Speaking on Pro Football Talk’s #PFTPM podcast with Florio, Adofo-Mensah addressed that the decision the commit himself to Cousins came down to unlocking the best version of Cousins by surrounding him with the best offense at the franchise’s disposal.
It will be vital for Cousins to take full ownership of the team, now that he has a new regime in his court.
“What we try to do is first and foremost get Kirk in the fold. I had a presentation with him. ‘Hey, you’re our partner in this. We’re trying to build this thing to have you be the best version of yourself, Kevin and I.’ Once we do that, then we can maybe go back and reassess where we are, but we think the best version of him and surrounding him with other things give us a really good chance,” Adofo-Mensah said.
Cousins’ play hasn’t translated to team success yet in his career, which Adofo-Mensah hopes to change by bringing in a coach in Kevin O’Connell that complement Cousins’ best attributes in a new system.
“Kirk’s a really good quarterback,” Adofo-Mensah said. “Things are binary. Either you’re a champion or you’re not. Either you’re the GOAT or you’re not. I don’t think that’s really how you successfully build teams. When you study historically what wins the NFL, special quarterback play does matter, but there are other ways to win.”
By getting Cousins a coach who is sold on him, Adofo-Mensah is hoping Cousins’ career can change course and lead to a deeper playoff resume than his 1-2 postseason record so far.
“Ultimately, I can’t sit here and tell you I know for certain what that’s gonna be, but we think that [resigning Cousins] gives us a great chance to be there at the end with a chance to do it. Obviously extending him gives us more time, right? A lot of that is just these things don’t take off in one day, in one month. These are that take a little — they’ve had exposure together before. I think the last time Kevin coached him [in Washington] I think it was all under the same situation where it was a one-year deal and Kevin was like, ‘Look, I want to pour into this guy. I think he’s one of the best quarterback guys I’ve ever been around, so I want to pour into this guy, see what the best he can be and we’ll see what happens in the end.’ We thought that was the best path going forward.”
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Cousins an Anamoly Among Elite QBs
Cousins’ 58-54-2 record and .508 winning percentage in his eight seasons are mediocre, yet he boasts the seventh-best career passer rating (98.6) in league history.
However, quarterbacks with passer ratings on par with Cousins have shown to have more winning careers.
|Passer rating (rank all-time)
Steve Young and Peyton Manning posted slightly lower passer ratings than Cousins in their careers but pieced together more wins, Super Bowl victories and earned berths in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for their play.
While Cousins has yet to establish himself in the wins category, he is on the right trajectory. He’s posted increasing passer ratings since 2019 and has improved his Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade every year since 2018.
Last year, he finished as PFF’s fifth-highest graded quarterback with an 88.2 PFF grade. He led eight potential game-winning or game-tying scoring drives last season, four of which led to losses due to either a missed kick or the defense failing to make a stop.
Cousins earned another extension with his play in 2021. The new regime has given Cousins one final chance to prove he’s a winner under better circumstances than his first four years in Minnesota.
And Adofo-Mensah has laid out his expectations loud and clear.