by Patrick P. Marek
Kirk Cousins is obviously a pretty clever guy. He managed to parlay two franchise tags with the Washington Redskins into an $84-million, fully guaranteed deal with the Vikings. Cousins also is in the process of trademarking “You Vike that!” so he can cash in on the inevitable huge T-shirt and tattoo deals. However, this columnist is smart enough to use Cousins’ catch phrase before the trademark goes into effect … thus saving myself at least $2. I also would like to give him some advice that has been gleaned from graduating with a Master’s degree from the Vikings’ correspondent school of misery and shattered dreams. Don’t dive headfirst!
In today’s NFL a team is only as good as the man under center. Cousins’ performance during Minnesota’s 24-16 victory over a feisty 49ers team gave us a glimpse of a future that could include a trip to Atlanta, and the Vikings’ first Super Bowl trophy. For most of the game, Cousins looked like a new, improved version of Case Keenum. Cousins has the size to be able to look over the line and survey the field, has a cannon for an arm so that he can deliver precision passes into tight coverages, and is elusive enough to buy time in the pocket. His 22-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs was a thing of beauty, and Cousins continually made the kind of prudent decisions that seemed to justify his historic salary and anointment as franchise quarterback.
Then, in the fourth quarter, on a third and five with under three minutes left in the game, something short circuited in Cousins’ brain, and he switched into toughguy mode. He shot through a gap in the middle of the line, lowered his head and shoulder, and blasted into two defenders. Cousins landed on his head, unhurt, short of the first down. He lived to fight another day, and then drew the 49ers’ defenders offside with a hard count. There were a lot of quotes from the Vikings players admiring their quarterback’s guts and willingness to take one for the team. I wonder what those same players would be saying if Cousins sustained a serious injury.
Those of us who endured watching the pre-season know that there is a huge gap between Kirk Cousins and Trevor Siemian. Think about all of the times an NFL quarterback’s season or career was ruined when they stepped out of their comfort zone and tried to do too much. Joe Namath mangled his knee trying to tackle a defender after an interception. Tommy Kramer fought the law (Lee Roy Selmon), and the law won. Most recently Carson Wentz tried to play running back, and he is still sidelined.
As I am sure that coach Zimmer has made crystal clear to his quarterback, if you see an opening where you get a chance for easy yardage, go ahead and take it … but do a baseball slide to avoid contact. The rule was designed to protect the quarterback. Take advantage of it. Like throwing the ball away when everyone is covered, it doesn’t win superhero points, or headbutts from your defense, but avoiding contact is the smart thing to do. It keeps the quarterback upright, to win games and lead the team to the promised land.
Stay purple my friends … and “You Vike that!”