In week nine, the Vikings earned an easy win vs the Lions behind a dominant defensive performance. Kirk Cousins was solid throughout the game, but his overall numbers were lower due to the commanding lead the Vikings had. Adam Thielen’s streak of 100-yard receiving games ended, but he still delivered a touchdown.
Box Score Statistics
Cousins completed 18 of his 22 attempts for 164 yards and one touchdown. He threw one interception and took one sack. Cousins was responsible for 11 first downs, and he converted four of eight third downs through the air. His completion percentage of 82 percent was stellar again this week, and his 7.5 yards per attempt was good.
The film reveals that Cousins played again well for the majority of the day. He consistently made the right read and performed well against pressure. He faced pressure at a lesser rate this week, facing pressure on only 28 percent of his dropbacks. The one turnover-worthy pass he through did result in an interception, though it was more of a great play by the Lions defender than an error by Cousins. Cousins also delivered two elite throws, though one was dropped by Aldrick Robinson.
Cousins and the Vikings started the game well, continuing the season long trend. He was accurate on three of his first five passes, though all were completions. Chad Beebe ran a great route and caught an inaccurate pass on a fourth and two to pick up the first down. Latavius Murray plunged in a one-yard touchdown a few plays later, and the Vikings took the lead.
Cousins next moment of relevance came early in the second quarter, as Darius Slay made a great play to intercept Cousins. On the play below, Slay is responsible for the outside receiver running the vertical route. Both he and the underneath defender come off their man to break towards Thielen. Cousins does bear some of the blame here. That said, the late movement by the defenders and the pressure in his face means it would be difficult for Cousins to adjust. With Stefon Diggs out, the Lions made stopping Thielen their number one priority, and this play is a prime example of that.
Just an awful decision pic.twitter.com/Cki5ZXOn45
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) November 4, 2018
After the Lions converted a field goal off the interception, a 70-yard run by Dalvin Cook set the Vikings up on the goal line. After seeing how heavy the Lions played Thielen on the interception, John Defilippo called a play designed specifically to attack a double team. With one defender having inside leverage and the other having outside leverage, Defilippo has Thielen run a quick out and up. Thielen’s elite route running capability creates easy separation and the Vikings earn their second touchdown of the day.
Thielen touchdown — great touch and placement by Cousins pic.twitter.com/qwetohkErp
— Arif Hasan (@ArifHasanNFL) November 4, 2018
Cousins was solid the rest of the game, accurate on eight of 11 attempts with two elite throws. But after the half, the Vikings again shifted to more of a conservative offense. They relied more on their defense to suffocate the opposing offense. This week, the defense did that, as Danielle Hunter and the defensive line consistently pressured Matthew Stafford and sacked him ten times.
On the day, Cousins was accurate on 14 of his 22 qualifying attempts for an accuracy percentage of 64 percent. That accuracy percentage is slightly below his season average, but Cousins was efficient in his limited role this week. In games like this where defense dominates, Cousins can afford to be conservative.
Thus far, Kirk Cousins has been worth the expensive investment. He has been among the league’s best at performing against pressure. His 16 elite throws are something the Vikings lacked last season with Case Keenum. His 66 percent accuracy rate is solid. Cousins’ biggest fault has been the high number of turnover-worthy passes. While those are concerning, he provides playmaking ability from the pocket. That is something the Vikings seriously lacked a season ago. With the running game and the defense rounding in to form, the Vikings will be a tough out.
Now at 5-3-1 and coming off the bye week, the Vikings travel to Chicago to face the division-leading-Chicago. Against the Bears fearsome defense, Cousins will likely face pressure on a high percentage of his dropbacks. He’ll need to continue to perform well against that pressure if the Vikings are to compete against top teams.
Week 9 – Film Breakdown Statistics
|Accuracy %||64%||Pressure %||28%|
|Touchdowns||1||Play Action %||20%|
|Completed Air Yards||63||First Downs||11|
|Yards After Catch||101||Target Leader||Thielen – 8|
|Yards After Catch %||62%||3rd Down Conversion %||50%|
Year-to-Date Film Breakdown Statistics
|Accuracy %||66%||Pressure %||39%|
|Touchdowns||17||Play Action %||21%|
|Completed Air Yards||1446||First Downs||126|
|Yards After Catch||1258||Target Leader||Thielen – 110|
|Yards After Catch %||47%||3rd Down Conversion %||41%|
For more information on the “Charting Cousins” series, please check out Charting Cousins in his week one game against the 49ers.