It’s now, in the slowest part of the calendar for a NFL player, that Kirk Cousins can allow himself the mental space to revisit the things that flashed by him at breakneck speed this spring.
In the span of a month, Cousins went from being the NFL’s most sought-after free agent to one of three veteran QBs on the Vikings’ roster, all trying to learn a new offense from recently-hired coordinator John DeFilippo while meshing with receivers who’d never caught a pass from any of them in a game.
“It’s a bit like drinking through a firehose right now,” Cousins said at the end of the Vikings’ minicamp. “I need to use the five or six weeks of the summer to go back. All the stuff I didn’t catch, go back through and see that I had starred this, I had check-marked this as something to go back to when we had time, rather than take time when we were so busy. I’ll make a list, probably get on the phone with Coach DeFilippo or give Coach Stefanski an email and just go through it all to get each question answered over the summer.”
Cousins is headed into his seventh season, meaning he’s one of the older quarterbacks in the league who’s spent his entire career trying to learn offenses within the constraints of the offseason rules that came with the NFL’s 2011 collective bargaining agreement. Those rules instituted a shorter offseason program, meaning players have to spend more time learning on their own and have fewer points of contact with coaches.
The system means quarterbacks, especially, have to stay on top of their own schedules. But Cousins has found he needs to guard against burnout, too.
“It’s a balance for me, and I’ve had to learn this after playing the last few years,” Cousins said. “Last year we got to like Week Two, and because of how much I was grinding all camp and even in the summer, I felt like we were in Week 12. I couldn’t believe that we were only in Week Two because I had treated July and August like it was game day. You have to pace yourself a little bit. Because I feel a little behind the eight ball and am learning the offense, I do need to be in it every day, but there also needs to be a healthy balance of getting away, catching your breath, and getting a change of scenery, knowing that when we come back at the end of July we still have six more weeks before Week One. I’ll definitely get away, relax, and also just stay in it every day for a few minutes so I don’t lose what I’ve gained.”