Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay knows quite a bit about the signal-caller lining up against him on Thursday night. As a matter of fact, Kirk Cousins is on record saying that he “owes his career” to McVay. When Cousins was drafted by the Washington Redskins McVay was working as the tight ends coach. In the first season where Cousins saw the starting job (two years later, in 2014), McVay had been promoted to quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. The young coach was by Cousins’ side, backing him to the coaching staff every step of the way until he headed to Los Angeles before the 2017-2018 season to become the youngest head coach in NFL history.
Cousins And McVay By The Numbers
Cousins played in 38 career games in Washington with McVay operating as offensive coordinator. His numbers are impressive, as it was arguably the best stretch of his career. Throughout that time, Cousins threw for nearly two touchdowns per game and just under 300 passing yards per game. These numbers (touchdowns per game and yards per game) are both above Cousins’ career average in the respective areas.
Last season was McVay and Cousins’ first game on opposing sidelines. The young head coach, in just his second career game, was able to shut down his former player. In that game, Cousins threw for less than 200 yards but was still able to find the endzone once.
Admittedly, a factor in Cousins’ poor performance by the numbers was the ability of Washington to run the ball on the Rams defense. The Redskins used three running backs to scamper all over the field for over 200 yards on the then new-look L.A. defense.
Cousins and the Vikings are coming off an awful performance last Sunday against the Bills. While the high-powered Viking offense was able to throw for just under 300 yards, that is made less impressive by the fact that Cousins threw the ball 55 times. Only finding the endzone once, the Vikings were only able to get six points on the board against, what some would call, the worst team in the NFL.
So Cousins and the Vikings are certainly looking to change course, and quickly. After all, Minnesota did not pay Cousins a fully guaranteed, $30 million per year contract expecting anything less than a Super Bowl.
A big step towards proving their Super Bowl aspirations to be rational is facing the Rams. Assumed by many to be the most complete team in the NFL right now, they are the type of team Cousins and Co. will need to beat in order to prove they are legit.
A Hobbled Rams Secondary
The Vikings threw the ball 55 times out of 59 snaps last week. With Dalvin Cook’s status in question once again, I would not be surprised to see a similar gameplan out of Minnesota. Couple that with the injuries to the Rams secondary and players like Sam Shields and Troy Hill could be forced to step up in a big way.
Even if Marcus Peters is able to go on Thursday, I would not be surprised to see him on a snap count. The Rams are playing the long game thanks to a weak division and Super Bowl aspirations, so taking care of their star cornerback is crucial this early on in the season.
L.A. faces it’s toughest test for the first eight weeks of the season on Thursday night. In a matchup of two of the strongest teams in the NFC, the Rams can send a message that they are for real. Meanwhile, the Vikings are looking to bounce back from their horrendous loss to Buffalo.