Tracking Kirk Cousins

We will track Kirk Cousins in his second season as the Vikings quarterback.

Inside the numbers

Attempts 27

Completions 22

Yards 306

Touchdowns 2

Interceptions 0

Passer rating 138.6

Turnovers 0

Performance

Grade: 8 out of 10

Cousins spoke of comfort in the Vikings’ new playbook throughout this summer, and it appeared to finally manifest during Sunday’s 28-10 win in New York. Cousins thrived off play-action passes while dismantling a hapless Giants defense that didn’t force a Vikings punt until the fourth quarter. Cousins was particularly efficient on third downs, where he found Adam Thielen for four of his five conversions. Cousins completed five of seven passes for 69 yards, including the 15-yard TD to Thielen on third downs against the Giants. Cousins’ 306 passing yards were his most since Nov. 25 last season.

The Good

Decisive: From the opening third down, Cousins was decisive and effective against the Giants. On the third-and-5 play, Cousins recognized the interior blitz and fled before pressure could stop the 13-yard throw to Thielen for a first down. Cousins appeared to see the field well throughout the game. He didn’t have a targeted incompletion until his 16th pass, when he tried a deep ball to Stefon Diggs on third and long. Cousins operated the offense with patience, which was necessary as the Vikings’ screen game was a focal point against a banged-up Giants linebacker corps.

The Bad

Red zone sacks: Once again, Cousins dominated a poor defense without many obvious errors. He took two red-zone sacks, which could be viewed as a good thing in lieu of a costly interception. He also threw two red-zone touchdowns, his first of the season. There was a botched exchange with rookie center Garrett Bradbury, who is still getting his feet under him. Cousins’ first incompletion was a throwaway that left Thielen standing in place, 10 yards downfield, looking around him without a defender close.

Quotable

“Kirk seemed to play well with a clean pocket, seemed like he was comfortable — and we talked [Sunday] about having a firm pocket. That’s important in the passing game as well. It’s not just about throwing and catching. It’s being in the right place in protection and the backs helping out, so I thought that part was pretty good.” — Mike Zimmer on Cousins’ pass protection.

Analysis

Play-action success: Cousins had 278 passing yards at halftime, 145 of which came off play-action passes that were supposed to be the bread and butter of the Vikings’ passing game. Cousins’ longest completion — a 44-yard catch and run by Thielen — was a play-action bootleg that could’ve been an 85-yard touchdown to Diggs, who was wide open beyond Thielen. The Vikings’ blocking scheme kept Cousins clean on many play-action passes, which allowed him time to find the deep receiver or open option underneath.

ANDREW KRAMMER