Charting Cousins: Week 14 at Seahawks

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Dec 10, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jake Martin (59) forces a fumble by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. The fumble was returned for a touchdown. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 10, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jake Martin (59) forces a fumble by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field. The fumble was returned for a touchdown. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In week 14, the Vikings fell on the road again, this time to the Seahawks. Kirk Cousins was atrocious, consistently missing open receivers and checking the ball down early. The Seahawks adopted the defensive gameplan the Patriots had, double-teaming Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen as much as possible while confusing Cousins before the snap.

Box Score Statistics

Cousins completed 20 of his 33 attempts for 208 yards and one touchdown. He threw no interceptions but took two sacks and fumbled once. Cousins was responsible for 10 first downs, and he converted two of eight third downs through the air. His completion percentage of 61 percent was solid this week, but his 6.3 yards per attempt again reflected his lack of aggressiveness.

Film Breakdown

Cousins struggled all day. He was pressured on 12 of his 37 dropbacks, for a pressure rate of 32 percent. But as last week, pressure wasn’t the main cause of his struggles. Like the Patriots, the Seahawks using defense alignments designed to muddle Cousins’ pre-snap read. He was forced to diagnose coverages after the snap. With his weakness relentlessly exploited last week, the Seahawks coaches likely looked at the film of that game and chose to similarly attack it in this game with schemes like this one. 

On this play, the Seahawks double-team Thielen and triple-team Diggs. Cousins eventually comes off his read to take a shot down the field to Aldrick Robinson, but leads him inside giving Robinson no chance to make a play. 

With the Seahawks attempting to take Thielen and Diggs out of the game, the Vikings try to find creative ways to get them the ball in space. On this play, Diggs is wide open initially. Inexplicably, Cousins doesn’t throw him the ball for an easy first down and potential big play. Instead, he forces the ball to his covered tight end, resulting in a third down. 

Cousins struggles continued on this play, but when you have an elite wide receiver only covered by one guy, instead of three, big plays can still happen. 

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Cousins recognizes that Diggs will be one-on-one. With good protection from the offensive line and Dalvin Cook, he has plenty of time to take a shot. Unfortunately, Cousins underthrows Diggs, turning a potential touchdown into a contested catch. Despite the underthrow, and the blatant, uncalled pass interference by the defensive back, Diggs pulls it down for a huge gain. 

Despite Diggs’ heroics, the Vikings were unable to get points on this drive, and with the help of an illegally blocked field goal, the Vikings fell to 6-6-1. 

Overall

On the day, Cousins was accurate on 18 of his 34 qualifying attempts for an accuracy percentage of 53 percent. His accuracy was off, he underthrew open receivers, and the offensive line was again a problem, albeit to a lesser extent than usual. With the Seahawks adopting the Patriots gameplan, the Vikings should expect to see it again until they have an answer for it. Mike Zimmer believes the answer is to run the ball more and fired his offensive coordinator for not doing it. 

There doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support running the ball more, as noted by Warren Sharp here, but expect to see more running plays going forward. The good news is the Vikings are still sixth in the NFC, and with the quarterback injuries for the Eagles, Redskins, and Panthers, the Vikings should make the playoffs. For them to make a run in the postseason, Cousins will need to regain the form of his best games this season. 

Week 14 – Film Breakdown Statistics

Accurate18Elite Throws0
Inaccurate16Sacks2
Accuracy %53%Pressure %32%
Touchdowns1Play Action %24%
Interceptions0Drops2
Turnover-Worthy Throws2Scrambles0
Completed Air Yards98First Downs10
Yards After Catch106Target LeaderThielen – 7
Yards After Catch %52%3rd Down Conversion %25%

Year-to-Date Film Breakdown Statistics

Accurate341Elite Throws19
Inaccurate172Sacks31
Accuracy %66%Pressure %38%
Touchdowns24Play Action %20%
Interceptions9Drops22
Turnover-Worthy Throws28Scrambles16
Completed Air Yards1991First Downs176
Yards After Catch1722Target LeaderThielen – 149
Yards After Catch %46%3rd Down %42%

For more information on the “Charting Cousins” series, please check out Charting Cousins in his week one game against the 49ers.

– Madison Parkhill writes for Full Press Coverage and covers the Vikings and Fantasy Football. Follow him @MadPark44 and follow @FPC_Vikings.

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