Tracking Kirk Cousins
We will track Kirk Cousins all year long in his second season as the Vikings’ quarterback.
Inside the numbers
Passer rating 140.8
Grade: 9 out of 10
The Vikings’ playbook pivot was in full effect throughout Sunday’s 28-12 win against the Falcons, during which Cousins attempted the fewest passes (10) of his NFL career as a starter. This came a year after he averaged 38 throws per game. Against the Falcons, Cousins did not throw a pass in the fourth quarter; his final attempt found receiver Stefon Diggs for a 31-yard gain with 1:15 left in the third quarter. That can happen when the offense churns out 174 rushing yards and takes a 28-0 lead after halftime.
“I don’t think it was unique to the Falcons. We’re going to want to run the ball effectively, stay patient with the run game and believe that, if you keep at it, you’ll break a few later in the game. I think that will be a philosophy regardless of the opponent or scheme.”
Poise: Cousins was at his best Sunday when withstanding a collapsing pocket and finding his receiver. That was the case when Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett barreled down in the first quarter, drilling Cousins as he threw a 23-yard touchdown to receiver Adam Thielen. Cousins had another shining moment in limited action when the Falcons showed blitz to his right in the second quarter. Cousins seemingly checked into a receiver screen toward the blitz, converting a third-and-9 play with a 9-yard completion to Chad Beebe. Cousins capped that drive with a 1-yard touchdown leap.
Losing the grip: Cousins was nearly errorless on Sunday, if not for a couple of plays when the ball popped out of his hands once again. In the second quarter, Cousins dropped an exchange with rookie center Garrett Bradbury that forced a third-and-26 play and eventual punt. Bradbury recovered another loose ball when Cousins was sacked by Jarrett in the third quarter. Cousins has put the ball on the ground nine times in each of the past four seasons, including a career-high seven lost fumbles last year.
A key to the Vikings’ offensive success was staying on schedule and maximizing an enviable average starting field position of their own 34-yard line. Cousins didn’t even face a third down until the Vikings’ third series, and it was a third-and-1 run converted by Dalvin Cook. On only three third downs did Cousins drop back to pass, throwing for two first downs and 21 combined yards; a Falcons defensive holding penalty gave the Vikings a third first down on those plays.