Written by Austen Reed
In the 2018 off-season, there was a lot of excitement within the Minnesota Vikings organization. They were coming off a 13-3 record and an NFC Championship appearance. The signing of one of the most sought-after free agents in Kirk Cousins seemed to be the key piece to getting the Vikings to the Super Bowl. As we sit here in the middle of the NFL playoff push without the Vikings participating in January football, many consider the Vikings as one of the most disappointing teams in the 2018 season. There were many factors into why this was a down season for the Minnesota Vikings, but the $84 million dollar investment in Cousins is one of the main factors people are quick to point out.
When you watched the 2018 Minnesota Vikings, this team felt a little bit off. Maybe it was the departure of Pat Shurmur, the play calling of new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo (who would eventually get fired), or the defense taking a step back from the 2017 season. When you take a look at Kirk Cousins stats from the 2018 season, he actually had one of the best statistical seasons of his career. He threw for 4298 yards, 30 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, completed 70% of his passes, and had a QB rating of 99.7. Those are pretty solid stats for a quarterback in his first season with a new team, but we have to look at more than his stats. Cousins would put together a few outstanding games in a row that would warrant his $84 million dollar contract, but there were games where he would play like an average QB, which would cost the Vikings a few games they would normally win. You could imagine that’s not going over well with Vikings fans who were still holding onto their playoff run the year before.
With year 1 of the Kirk Cousins experience in the books, the Vikings will approach the offseason with a lot of questions pertaining to this signing. As I stated before, this down season shouldn’t be all on Kirk Cousins. His running back Dalvin Cook started the first half of the season dealing with injuries, play caller and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo did the offense no favors with questionable play calling that would eventually lead to his firing, the defense took a step back, and their offensive line did not hold up for most of the season.
Going from 13-3 to 8-7-1, the first season with Kirk Cousins could be considered a bust for the Vikings. Heading into December, the Vikings were firmly in playoff contention and trending in the right direction with a 24-17 win over the Green Bay Packers. Unfortunately, three losses to the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, and the week 17 24-10 loss to the Chicago Bears would bounce the Vikings out of the playoffs. This would further prove the notion that Kirk Cousins does not play well in big moments, the one thing the Vikings hoped would change this season. With limited cap space, this is a very important off-season for the Vikings. They must improve their offensive line for their franchise QB and hope the defense returns to the 2017 form even with the potential loss of pro-bowl linebacker Anthony Barr. With the recent news that Kevin Stefanski will remain the Vikings offensive coordinator for next season, let’s see if Kirk Cousins can prove that he is worth the $84 million dollar price tag and lead the Vikings back to the postseason and beyond.