Before Stefon Diggs stole the show as the biggest offensive subplot with the Vikings last week by missing time with a (cough) cold, declaring “there’s truth to all rumors” when addressing whether he wants to be traded and getting fined $200K by the team … deep breath … the big story was instead fellow receiver Adam Thielen calling out the Vikings’ passing game for its ineffectiveness, followed by Kirk Cousins apologizing to Thielen on his podcast for not getting him the ball enough.
It’s unclear what Mike Zimmer likes least — the Cousins apology or his media entanglements — but his quip “maybe he should get off the podcast” was one for the ages.
But at the risk of ticking off his head coach — the QB has more guaranteed money but Zimmer has more power and doesn’t mind showing his irritation — I think Cousins should actually do the exact opposite and double-down on what worked last week.
He should definitely keep his podcast going. And he should invite someone on every week for a heartfelt apology.
After all, in his first post-apology game Sunday, Cousins posted a 138.6 passer rating — second-best in his 21 games as Vikings starter (the only one higher was 140.6 in the opener this year, when Cousins only threw 10 passes). Thielen went for 130 and a pair of scores in what was easily the Vikings best-looking game of the year in terms of balance from all phases.
And the Vikings have been stuck in a pattern so far this season of easy win (bad team), bad loss (good team), etc. If they want to break the pattern with a good win over a good team Sunday against the Eagles, it’s incumbent upon Cousins to bare his soul again and make amends for whatever ills — real or imaginary — he has inflicted upon others.
Here are some candidates for apologies on this week’s radio show/podcast, which airs at 6 p.m. Tuesday on KFAN:
*Thielen (again): Why would Cousins apologize to Thielen after their big Sunday together? Well, if he’s superstitious (or even a little stitious) he won’t want to mess with a good thing. Keep this going until Thielen has a 1,000-yard game.
*Kyle Rudolph: If anyone should be mad about his role in the offense, it’s the Vikings’ veteran tight end. Rudolph has exactly six catches (for just 36 yards) in five games this year. That’s a huge drop-off for someone who averaged 68 catches over the last three seasons (including a healthy 64 last year with Cousins).
*Diggs: The disgruntled wide receiver had another quiet day Sunday, with three catches for 44 yards. He’s only been targeted 23 times in five games — after getting a whopping 149 targets in 15 games last season. There’s basically no way Diggs is going to hit his contract incentives at this pace. Cousins isn’t solely responsible, but maybe an apology and some Pizza Ranch gift cards would be nice?
*Vikings’ offensive line: Of the 29 NFL QBs with at least 100 dropbacks this season (per Pro Football Focus), Cousins has had the most time to throw, on average, at 2.9 seconds per dropback. And he’s had the fourth-highest percentage of dropbacks of at least 2.5 seconds among those same 29 QBs. Yet Cousins is being pressured on 43.7% of his dropbacks (second-most of those QBs, per PFF). Sounds like Cousins might want to say I’m sorry to five guys at once.
*Jay Gruden: Cousins and Gruden had a decent thing going in Washington. It’s not Cousins’ fault that they parted ways, but Gruden was clearly lost without Kirk — and was fired Monday after an 0-5 start this season. Sometimes you say sorry even when something isn’t your fault just to take the sting off things.