Tracking Kirk Cousins
We will track quarterback Kirk Cousins all year long in his inaugural season as the Vikings’ signal caller.
Inside the numbers
Passer rating 76.5
Grade: 3 out of 10
Cousins might have played his worst game in a Vikings uniform at the most inopportune time. With the lead in the NFC North on the line in Chicago, Cousins had just 129 passing yards and two interceptions before racking up some garbage-time yardage to pad his totals in the fourth quarter. Cousins missed throws when he was protected, and he sailed other attempts when he was under pressure. Cousins’ teammates aren’t immune to the blame. He had no running game and little protection from the offensive line. And he didn’t overcoming those deficiencies.
A brief stretch: There’s little to choose from on the ‘highs’ category during a loss in which the Vikings were shut out until the third quarter. But Cousins had a brief stretch in the first half when he looked decisive and the offense was humming. He checked into a Dalvin Cook run to convert a third down, then found tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 6-yard out to convert another third down. Cook’s fumble would stall that drive in the red zone before it could produce points.
Feeling pressure: Cousins had receiver Stefon Diggs open deep on a first down in the first quarter, but he overthrew Diggs in the end zone. The disconnect proved to be an omen of things to come. It was one of the few clean pockets Cousins had against the Bears, and he wasted the opportunity. Cousins was under duress for much of the game behind an offensive line at its healthiest since early October. The pressure got to Cousins on a handful of plays, including the overthrow that turned into a Bears interception just before halftime. Cousins was protected on his second interception, an overthrow aimed at Laquon Treadwell, but the pressure was clearly affecting his decisionmaking by the fourth quarter.
“The reasons we lost are what Coach Zimmer told us were the keys to victory. We knew they would be keys to victory and we weren’t good enough in those areas.” – Cousins on the turnovers.
Cousins averaged 5.7 yards per throw against the Bears, which is his shortest average throw since joining the Vikings. His inability, and eventual discomfort, to stand in the pocket with time to throw downfield ultimately led to a toothless passing attack. Cousins missed the aforementioned deep throw to Diggs, but he otherwise kept his passes quick and short. The Vikings’ longest completion of the night was the 25-yard catch and run from Diggs that could’ve at least set up a field-goal attempt had Cousins not thrown an interception on the next play.