Welcome to the Friday edition of The Cooler, where we’re not afraid to make quick judgments. Let’s get to it:
*The Vikings were quick to point Thursday night that quarterback Kirk Cousins set a team record for most passing yards through four games in a season. He now has 1,387 yards, topping the 1,341 that Daunte Culpepper had through four games in 2004. That’s a pace for more than 5,500, which would be a team record by a long shot and an NFL record as well.
Cousins is also just the third Vikings QB to post multiple 400-yard passing games in the same season — with Culpepper in 2004 and Warren Moon in 1994 being the others.
Cousins is clearly a dangerous passer who can put points on the board. It is certainly not his fault that the Vikings defense suddenly looks like the 2013 version instead of the 2015-17 version and can’t stop anyone through the air (a fact that has head coach Mike Zimmer flummoxed and concerned).
If Zimmer’s constant refrain is that if you give him 21 points he’s more than likely to bring home a victory, then the 31 Cousins put up Thursday against the Rams should have been enough. Alas, it wasn’t.
However: Within the context of the good things Cousins has done, we must revisit the bad — and here, again, we find a comparison to Culpepper, albeit this time in a negative light.
Mark Craig covered this extensively leading up to Thursday’s game, so I won’t belabor the point, but: the fumbles. They are a problem for Cousins. They have been a critical factor in both Vikings losses this season, with two early lost fumbles against the Bills setting the tone in that ugly loss and Thursday’s strip sack turnover denying the Vikings a chance to tie the game in the closing minutes of a 38-31 loss.
Again, Cousins had done enough to win already. So this isn’t to say Cousins was the reason the Vikings lost.
But it that third lost fumble means: He currently leads the NFL in that stat (albeit with one more game played than most players). He also leads the NFL since the start of the 2015 season with 35 fumbles (and has four total this year, one that was recovered by the Vikings).
This stands in stark contrast to last season, when primary Vikings starter Case Keenum fumbled exactly one time.
But it does not stand in contrast to Culpepper, whose fumbling is remembered about as much as his overall brilliance. That 2004 season I already referenced? Daunte threw for 4,717 yards, 39 TDs and just 11 INTs while also running for 406 yards. Similar to Cousins, it wasn’t Daunte’s fault that the Vikings seldom could stop opponents on defense.
Culpepper, though, had a bad fumbling problem. He appeared in 81 games as a Viking and had 81 fumbles in those games. That’s easy math: 1 per game, which means 16 a season. It was particularly bad in 2002, when he put the ball on the ground a league-high 23 times. If Twitter was around back then, I can only imagine the number of “small hands” takes we would have been subjected to every week.
The more-than-average number of fumbles from Daunte didn’t negate his overall body of work, but they were certainly a factor in a lot of games and a concern in general. The same can be said of Cousins.
*By the way, if you’re clamoring for the Vikings to bring in more players (like, say, Brian Robison) it’s good to remember that they are about $150,000 under the salary cap. They are pretty much what they are, unless they restructure or extend someone.
*The Undefeated has an update on Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson and her amazing offseason:
Brunson, the only player with five WNBA championship rings, has her hands full this offseason between the launch of her Twin Cities food truck business, Sweet Gypsy Waffle, and the arrival of her and wife Bobbi Jo’s first child, Graham Matteo Lamar Brunson. Their baby boy is due on Oct. 13, and the couple is relieved the date doesn’t fall on a Friday.
*Willians Watch: Astudillo drove in four runs Thursday and is now hitting .357. However: he did strike out! That gives him three strikeouts this year, matching his home run total. He can be forgiven for his first K in more than 50 at bats, though, because his scoreboard picture is glorious.