Mike Zimmer paused a few seconds when asked whether he feels Kirk Cousins, his highly paid and even more highly scrutinized quarterback, is losing confidence.
“No, I don’t think that,” the Vikings coach said Wednesday. “I don’t see that. He just needs to go play. Just play the game. That’s usually what I tell him. Just play the game. Don’t worry about consequences. Do what you do.”
After his media scrum Wednesday, Cousins was asked the same question. The reason for the question being that in a span of three weeks and two losses, Cousins essentially apologized for making too risky of a throw in Green Bay and outright apologized to Adam Thielen for not taking enough shots in Chicago.
“My confidence is strong,” Cousins said. “I think I’m trying to be self-aware … and be honest and say, ‘Hey, when I mess up, I’m going to own it and point to it.’
“On the flip side, I’m not going to go up there and say, ‘I’m awesome!’ So when we have a good play, I’m not going to tell you about it. Sometimes, it can be one-sided. I’ve played a lot of football in this league, and I think you take confidence from the fact that I’ve been through this before. It’s not my first rodeo being in a tough game, a tough loss. You just move forward with confidence.”
Next up for the Vikings (2-2) is a trip to New Jersey to face the Giants (2-2). New York ranks 25th in pass defense (279.5), 31st in yards per pass (8.8) and 22nd in opponent passer rating (99.3). But the Giants also are tied for second in interceptions with five.
That game comes Sunday. Wednesday’s show at TCO featured what Thielen said Sunday, what he clarified Monday, how Cousins apologized to him on his Tuesday radio show/podcast, and — deep breath — how Zimmer dislikes apologies, podcasts and pretty much all the chatter going on outside the Purple fortress.
After Sunday’s loss in Chicago, Thielen lamented the inability to throw the ball, saying, “you have to be able to hit deep balls.” On Monday, Thielen told reporters he wasn’t calling anybody out. Earlier in the day, Zimmer said there were times when Cousins needed “to pull the trigger.”
On his weekly “Under Center” radio show and podcast that aired Tuesday, Cousins said, “I really want to apologize to [Thielen],” who was sitting next to him at the time.
Wednesday, Zimmer said he’s “not a fan” of players apologizing to each other publicly. When he found out Thielen was sitting next to him during the show, Zimmer shrugged and said Cousins “was probably just being nice. I mean, seriously, I’m not worried about it. Maybe he should get off the podcast.”
Meanwhile, if the Vikings are frustrated with the media, they might want to avoid social media because Kirk’s approval rating in Purple Nation is a tad sluggish at the moment. Not that Cousins pays it much attention, he says.
“I’m pretty naive to it,” he said. “You know ignorance is bliss. The only time I’m aware of it is when I have friends or family text me. And the texts they send me you would think somebody died. ‘Hey man, I’m thinking of you.’ Boy, it must not be good out there if that’s what they’re texting me. So I honestly don’t see it so I think that helps.”
As for Zimmer’s directive to “just go play,” Cousins was asked if sometimes he tries too hard for perfection at the expense of pulling the trigger.
“If I said I’m just going to go play, it’s slightly more complicated than that,” he said. “I don’t think you can just go wing it. You have to go out there, read coverages, study film, be prepared, know your motions, your snap counts, your progressions, your footwork, your hots, the blitzes they’re bringing.
“I think if anything, if I were to say, ‘What has not been good enough so far in the first four weeks?’ I would just say some missed opportunities down the field in the play-action game. I would say that’s not trying too hard. Just missed a few throws by a foot or two and a couple other guys I missed in terms of the progression and went to someone else. That’s not catastrophic. That’s not needing a psychology meeting to talk through it. Let’s just try to hit those play passes this week.”