Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The Cooler, where sometimes you have to say things more than once before someone believes you. Let’s get to it:
*Right before Vikings training camp started, I noted that a ranking of NFL QBs had placed the newly acquired Kirk Cousins at No. 15 in the league — not bad, but hardly the place you would expect for someone who signed an $84 million guaranteed contract.
That list of QBs was also broken into “tiers,” and Cousins was placed in the top of Tier 3. My thought then was that if Cousins played like a Tier 3 quarterback, the Vikings would be fine but wouldn’t be anything special. If he played more like a Tier 2 quarterback — someone who can elevate his team and make special plays but is also admittedly below the very best of the best — the Vikings would have a chance to be Super Bowl contenders.
Five games into the season is not the biggest sample size, but so far it is clear the Cousins is at least meeting — and perhaps exceeding — expectations as a Tier 2 quarterback. His fumbles have been a source of concern, but everything else about his game has been on point.
Pro Football Focus has him as a top-10 quarterback overall, with sterling numbers on deep ball accuracy and passing under pressure — two things that were combined in one critical play Sunday when Cousins found Adam Thielen on a 68-yard connection. Cousins also ranks No. 7 in ESPN’s Total QBR metric.
Aside from numbers, Cousins has made a handful of seemingly impossible throws every game.
It’s unfair to say exactly what the Vikings would look like had they stayed with Case Keenum or another in-house option at quarterback since that decision would have left them with more cap space to potentially sign other players, but I think this is fair to say: Substitute any other available quarterback in a 1-for-1 swap with Cousins, and the Vikings — given how the defense struggled early this season — would not even be 2-2-1 at this point.
*The Wolves are eight days from the start of the regular season, and things are as confusing as ever with the Jimmy Butler situation. Chip Scoggins correctly asserts that this whole thing is not only a big mess but a marketing nightmare.
As my friend and former colleague Jeff Shelman tweeted this morning: “I’ve stuck with the # for too long. Been part of a season tix group for yrs. Believed Kahn when he took JFlynn. Thought Rambis was a great hire. Really thought Adelman was a home run. Yet a week out from the opener, I basically don’t care. I’ve hit my breaking point.”
That sense of apathy from a big hoops fan should be even more alarming than anger.
*Adrian Peterson was off to a hot start this season, but he dislocated his shoulder in Washington’s loss to New Orleans on Monday.