'Panic in the air' around Kirk Cousins' Vikings

Brian Tinsman
December 13, 2018 - 10:51 pm
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Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

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Maybe the Minnesota Vikings finally understand why the Washington Redskins' brass, for better or for worse, never quite believed in Kirk Cousins.

The Vikings made it to the cusp of the Super Bowl with Case Keenum last season and thought Cousins was the upgrade needed to take it all the way.

So far, he has led the team to a 6-6-1 record, winners of the games they should win and losers when it matters most.

Now, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press Vikings beat reporter Brian Murphy, the Vikings are freaking out.

"Even if they run the table, they’re still going to be stuck in that No. 6 seed," Murphy told CBS Sports personality Ferrall on the Bench. "They’re going to be going on the road. They’re not going to be getting the bye.

"If they’re going to get anywhere, they’d have to travel probably through New Orleans or L.A. That’s not going to look too pretty, either."

This is a rare opportunity for Redskins fans to shrug and say, "Yeah, we know."

"This was a season with Super Bowls expectations," Murphy continued. "Kirk Cousins, they signed him – everybody knows – to $84 million guaranteed. They basically have one of the best defenses in the league, but it’s on the field too often."

Cousins brought a lot of excitement to the Twin Cities. That excitement caused the NFL to put Cousins in primetime games, which Redskins fans will remember is bad for Cousins. So far this season, he has run his career record to 0-7 on Monday Night Football, which is the worst record in NFL history.

Along the way, he has reverted back to throwing interceptions and fumbling the football at the worst possible moments in games. Four of those have been returned for touchdowns. Even with receivers like Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph, the Vikings just aren't built to overcome that.

That's why the Vikings made the move to fire offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Tuesday. That's how bad things have gotten, under the weight of huge expectations.

"This was a 13-3 team a year ago that made it to the NFC Championship Game, and they’re hanging by their fingernails on the No. 6 seed," Murphy said. "And you’ve got a coach (Mike Zimmer) who's just made his seat even hotter by firing his offensive coordinator. It’s dysfunction and dissatisfaction in the Twin Cities."

So what, you might ask. Cousins is there for three years and this is year one. Teams don't always adjust right away and maybe he'll be better in years two and three. Fellow CBS Radio host Bill Reiter is betting against it, saying that he now know the real Kirk Cousins.

"Can Kirk Cousins win big games? The answer is a resounding, and I think it's going to be long-term, no," Reiter said on his Tuesday show. "He wasn't just bad last night, he disappeared. In that first half when it was ugly and the Seahawks had trouble scoring, the Vikings got shut out in large part because Kirk Cousins threw for 27 yards.

"I know the Seahawks defense is good, I just got done talking about it. You just got paid $87 million. You're supposed to be the missing ingredient that came in to join the team that made it to the NFC Championship last year, to get them over the hump, or at least make them competitive. They're barely still in the playoff picture.

"They're there, but not because of Kirk Cousins."

Reiter went on to discuss a lot of familiar talking points against Cousins, including his record in primetime games, his record against winning teams, etc. But he also gave the Redskins some credit for seeing this situation coming with Cousins. The Vikings, however, did not.

"It turned out that Washington, for all its ineptitude, knew exactly what it was doing," he said. "On the day that the Chiefs traded Alex Smith from Kansas City to Washington, the biggest loser was the Vikings. Because they, inevitably, were going to sign a quarterback who was going to make them worse.

"The Vikings are good enough, which is why they brought Cousins in, that a lot of their games are going to matter. And Cousins can't win them. He shuts down. The Vikings are in big trouble."

 

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