First off, kudos to Vikings QB Kirk Cousins for his work ethic and also his willingness to do what would make a lot of us cringe: Go back and look at mistakes he made as a younger professional in an attempt to unpack how he became the player he is now.
I, for one, would not have the stomach to read everything I have ever written — first and foremost a novel completed about 20 years ago that I am terrified to (likely) discover is not just unpublished but unpublishable.
But Cousins has made this sort of self-assessment the centerpiece of his career. And he has upped the ante this offseason, revealing Wednesday in a session with reporters that he has a setup in his Michigan home that is allowing him this offseason to watch every game of his NFL career — a body of work that includes 104 starts.
I talked on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast about how this commitment — in addition to Cousins' willing participation in offseason practices and his seemingly smooth relationship with rookie third-round draft pick Kellen Mond — stands in contrast to what is happening in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love.
For good measure, we dove into the subject on Thursday's Access Vikings podcast as well, evaluating what Cousins hopes to accomplish with his film mission.
Any attempt to better ourselves, whether it's personal or professional, is commendable. It's hard work, and it strips off the temptation to look at the past with mere nostalgia.
"I've watched myself in '12 and '13-14 and think, 'Man, I'm such a better quarterback now. I can't believe that the coaches didn't just cut me when I did that and made that mistake. I can't believe they were patient with me,'" Cousins told reporters. "Because nowadays looking back, it would just be unacceptable to myself, allowing myself to play that way or make that read or make that throw or that decision."
The question I do have, though, is this: Is the kind of work Cousins is doing really going to make him better?
Here we have a quarterback who, as mentioned, is known for being cerebral. He trains his brain in hopes of finding a sweet spot during chaotic situations that help him thrive — something he did find, for instance, in a playoff win over the Saints a couple years ago.
But the criticism of Cousins has never been lack of preparation. Rather, sometimes he has been accused of overthinking things instead of just playing loose.
His game breaks down not during scripted situations when he has time to throw and where film study will tell him what read to make, but rather in tighter moments when he has to go off-script and just make a play — the types of moments that the veteran QB in Green Bay has a knack for making when he is happy and on the field instead of unhappy and/or hosting a game show.
Maybe watching 104 starts worth of film can give Cousins some information about what works for him in those clutch, unscripted moments. Or maybe that's not something he can study his way out of, no matter how much film there is to consume.
Regardless, watching the divergent timelines of the Vikings and Packers, of Cousins and Rodgers, is making for a fascinating offseason.
How it will all play out is, as they say, a beautiful mystery.