Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback who’s capable of being more. He’s an excellent passer who can make all the throws with power and precision.
But do you trust him?
Kinda. Sorta. Who knows? He was bad. But then he was good, even great. But then he was bad again. He did help the Vikings reach the playoffs. But, then again, he also helped the Packers win the NFC North, going 0-2 against them while completing 47.6% of his passes with three picks and passer ratings of 52.9 and 58.8.
And now here we are. Week 17. The Vikings are locked into the NFC’s sixth seed and we’re all wondering how much, if at all, Cousins should play against the Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Cousins is a 31-year-old man. He’s played eight NFL seasons. He’s thrown 3,146 passes in 93 games. And yet we’re wrestling with what we think is best for what we think is his shallow confidence heading into the playoffs.
In other words, we don’t trust him.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has never said he doesn’t trust Cousins. But he spent the early part of last week wrestling with trust issues in general on the offensive side of the ball.
On the one hand, he has an offense that went into Week 16 ranked 10th in yards per game and fifth in scoring. But on the other hand, that offense posted 139 yards, seven first downs and 10 points at home in prime time in a must-win game to stay alive in the division race.
“That’s probably the biggest part of it,” Zimmer said. “Do you look at the entire season and look at how well the offense has played throughout the course of the year? Or do you look at a one-game situation? That’s kind of what I’m weighing right now.
“Do I go with the belief they’ve been really good all year long? Or do we go in and, because we didn’t play very well the other night, try to get going again?”
Yes, it’s a team game. Yes, there are 10 other players and an offensive coordinator working in concert with Cousins. And, yes, Cousins wasn’t the left tackle whiffing on Za’Darius Smith over and over.
But Cousins was the guy who looked nervous, who looked unsure of himself on the bigger stage. When the defense gave him the ball at the Packers 10-yard line 60 seconds into the game, Cousins turned it into a field goal. He gave up on a play on second-and-goal from the 5 and then overthrew C.J. Ham on a short, simple swing pass on third-and-goal.
The defense would get him the ball two more times in Packers territory before halftime. And yet the Vikings went to the locker room leading 10-9.
And that doesn’t build much trust in a quarterback who’s not known for his big-game performances and is 0-1 as a starter in the playoffs.
So how will this season end for Cousins? An Eli Manning-2007-like Super Bowl run that justifies a contract extension? An ugly one-and-done that warrants drafting a quarterback?
Well, he is, believe it or not, capable of the former. But if he plays like he did last week, the latter is, of course, a probability.
In other words, do you trust him?
Flip a coin.
Mark Craig is an NFL and Vikings Insider. Twitter: @markcraigNFL E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org