For the fifth consecutive season, there will be a new starting quarterback in Minnesota. If the Vikings got this one right, they finally have the franchise signal caller they’ve been searching for.
Free agent Kirk Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million contract Thursday after weeks of rumors. With the addition of Cousins, the Vikings get a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback who, in theory, can produce on a greater level than their last few.
Full Press Coverage Vikings weighs in on what the Vikings new starting quarterback brings to the table. We will take a look at his strengths, weaknesses and how he can bring Minnesota to the Super Bowl.
Since becoming a full time starter in 2015, Cousins has been among the most productive quarterbacks in the NFL. Over the past three seasons, he’s ranked among the top-10 in passing yards, yards per attempt, touchdown passes, completion percentage and quarterback rating.
Cousins has had to carry Washington’s offense for the past three years, but the entire team. He has yet to play with a defense that has finished better than 21st in the NFL.
Despite analysts viewing his 2017 as his worst season to date, he still produced 4,093 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 64.3 percent of his passes. Given the circumstances around him (losing top receivers, a banged up line and a poor defense), it is not such a bad season.
Interceptions. It’s not so much the number of picks he’s thrown that’s been the problem so much as it’s been the timing. Those ill-timed mistakes have led to critics questioning whether he can ever reach elite status. The 2016 finale against the Giants put this flaw on full display. He threw multiple interceptions in a game that ultimately bumped Washington from postseason contention.
Another possible cause for concern is that since his first year as a starter, he’s seen a steady decline in rating. This is not likely to continue, given the team around him. But it is worth noting.
Cousins joins Minnesota with a 26-30-1 record as a starter, something that only exacerbates the criticism against him. He has never won more than nine games and has only one postseason appearance, as well.
Cousins provides a clear upgrade over any of the past three quarterbacks the Vikings on most levels. With the Vikings within their championship window, the time was right to solidify the most important position. Given Bradford’s and Bridgewater’s recent injuries and questions still surrounding the legitimacy of Keenum’s 2017 breakout performance, Cousins provided the Vikings with the safest option.
For Cousins, the Vikings provide him with by far the most talented roster he’s had. It is conceivable that he could have made another playoff run had he simply had even a top-16 defense the last couple of years.
The Vikings also return a top-10 rushing attack that will get Dalvin Cook back in the fold. He tore his ACL in October but appears to be progressing. Paired with the team’s leading rusher, Latavius Murray, Cousins could have a top-5 running game, something he never had in Washington.
Cousins also gets an upgrade at his receiver positions. He will now be throwing to perhaps the league’s best receiving duo in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Tight end Kyle Rudolph provides a target similar to Cousins’ former teammate, Jordan Reed. Add in Cook’s receiving ability and the untapped potential of Laquon Treadwell, and this offense could be poised to take a huge step forward in 2017.
– Clayton R. Brooks II writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Minnesota Vikings. Like and follow @ClaytonRBrooks2 on Twitter. Like and follow @fpc_vikings on Twitter and Full Press Vikings on Facebook.
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