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Has Vikings QB Kirk Cousins Finally Turned the Corner?

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:15 PM
Travis Pulver
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:15 PM
  • Kirk Cousins has developed a reputation over the years that no quarterback wants–he can’t beat good teams, and he can’t win in primetime.
  • But Sunday night, he did just that with a 28-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
  • While it wasn’t a big statistical night for him, can we now say that the primetime monkey is off his back? Or is it too soon to say that?

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has a history. It is pretty well known, too. When it comes to facing garbage teams, he can dominate them with ease. But when playing quality teams, especially in primetime, he struggles immensely.

However, that certainly wasn’t the case Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys—a team Cousins has had particular trouble with . Cousins didn’t light the Cowboys secondary up (23-32 for 220 yards and two touchdowns). The Cowboys helped by making some questionable play calls. But in the end, the Vikings won, 28-24.

Cousins led the team to a win in primetime.

About That Monkey on Your Back, Kirk…

As could be expected, his record against winning teams was a topic of discussion after the game. He answered NBC’s Michele Tafoya  precisely like you’d expect him to—he took no credit, giving it all to the team instead:

Well, first of all, the Vikings beat a winning team. Football’s a team game, and today I relied on my teammates. We ran the ball well, our defense stepped up big at the end, and I was just a part of this big win tonight.

It’s a nice sentiment, and something you would expect a team captain to do. But the stigma is one that has chased him around for years. While this is only one win, is it something Cousins can hang his hat on? Did he get that monkey off his back?

An Unfair Narrative

Many will make the argument that playing in primetime and knowing that every football fan in the country is watching you can cause some guys to get inside their heads too much.

That has been the explanation for the apparent struggle Kirk Cousins has had in such games. Since it makes sense, we all accept it even though the whole narrative is ridiculous.

Quarterbacks get much more credit than they deserve when a team wins, and they often get more of the blame than they deserve. Such has been the case for Kirk Cousins.

Has Cousins had some bad games in primetime? Yes, of course. But was it because of him or because the other team was good? In some cases, yes, the other team deserves the credit. But that has not always been the case—especially during his time with the Redskins.

The Real Reason Why Kirk Cousins Has a Poor Record Against Winning Teams

kirk cousins, minnesota vikings
Kirk Cousins didn’t get the monkey off his back, but only because it was never there in the first place. | Source: Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images / AFP

Therein lies the real problem–the Redskins. Cousins never had much to work with back in Washington. Should a good quarterback be able to make lesser players better? Absolutely—and he did. But there is only so much he could do with what he had to work with.

In Minnesota, that is not the case. Sunday night’s win over Dallas is a perfect example. Cousins had a good night throwing the ball–not a great one. But he didn’t need to since Dalvin Cook was able to blow up for 183 total yards and a touchdown.

So—has Kirk Cousins finally turned the corner? No, because there wasn’t a corner he needed to turn.

Cousins was struggling earlier in the year, but that does not appear to be the case anymore. The Vikings offense appears to be operating on the same page. As long as they continue to do that, they–and their quarterback–will be dangerous.