The Vikings can formally begin their transition to the Kirk Cousins era on April 16, when the team can start offseason workouts at its new facility in Eagan. The process of indoctrinating Cousins into the offense will happen later in the spring, however, thanks to the NFL’s offseason rules that curtail much on-field work until organized team activities begin in late May.
Coach Mike Zimmer told reporters who were at the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando on Tuesday, though, that he expects Cousins’ transition in the offense to be fairly smooth. The Vikings plan to keep much of their terminology and offensive concepts consistent between Pat Shurmur and new coordinator John DeFilippo, to ensure continuity and minimize the adjustment period for the returning members of an offense that finished 10th in the league last season. There will be plenty of room within that structure, Zimmer said, to mold the offense to what Cousins likes.
“We’re going to do what Cousins does best,” Zimmer said. “He’s the most important player, really, on the offense, so we have to figure out what he does best, what he feels comfortable with and kind of go from there. I don’t anticipate it being a lot different, but there’s going to be some differences, partly because of him and partly because of the things DeFilippo likes to do.”
Zimmer said he talked to 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and Rams coach Sean McVay, who both coached Cousins in Washington, about the quarterback, and “these guys just rave about him.
“He’s a really smart kid. He’s very, very detailed. I don’t think the learning curve will be big, but it’s important for us as coaches to do what he does best. I’ve always said your offense should be what the quarterback does best. It’s not, ‘OK, whatever the playbook says.’ You don’t pay a guy that much money to try and put him in a square hole, you know?”
After the Vikings start their work in Eagan, Zimmer said he plans to visit Cousins in the offseason, either at his home in Michigan or “where he’s at and what he’s comfortable with.”
Said Zimmer: “[I’ll] go see him, sit down, have dinner with him and just talk about different things. But I figure it’s better to get the football part going first, and then start to get to know him better.”