The Minnesota Vikings acquired Kirk Cousins in the spring of 2018 to be the cake topper for a team that owned a ruthlessly-good defense. In 2017, the Vikings were the NFL’s top defense via points allowed and yards allowed. Cousins would be the panacea.
Instead, the Vikings have regressed. The franchise has won just one playoff game since Cousins’ arrival.
As it plagued him in Washington, a feverish debate surrounds Cousins on whether he is the proper signal-caller to lead an organization. Some examine the numbers and determine, “Yes, a man that tossed 4,265 passing yards and 35 touchdowns in a season will do the trick.” Others pivot to Cousins’ personal win-loss record, which hovers around the .500 pendulum.
Last week, the author of this piece unscientifically polled VikingsTwitter on a draft wishlist. 841 different folks responded. While it is fair to critique the legitimacy of the poll, it is unlikely that 841 souls lied in totality. Ergo, the results should be perceived as “in the ballpark” for fan sentiment.
Just 6.9% of respondents desire a 2017 Kansas City Chiefs-like strategy to draft a rookie quarterback. Often, the utopian scenario is shouted that the Vikings only need to “draft their Mahomes.” Well, here is the mode by which to do it. When the rubber hits the road on social media, less than one-tenth actually endorse the philosophy.
No Appetite to Draft Imminent Replacement
The Vikings have pressing needs. A defensive end to pair with Danielle Hunter. A starting guard that is not a career-long reservist personality. A 3-technique defensive tackle that is more than a serviceable body. A free safety to [probably] replace Anthony Harris. A third linebacker to complement Eric Kendricks and Antony Barr.
That list is concise, but it has far-reaching implications. Skimping on the checklist in just one spot may be to the detriment of the 2021 Vikings.
Although a young, fireballer quarterback would be fun – and probably will join the team within the next 10 years – it is not a crucial need. Minnesota already has a quarterback that it pays lavishly. His name rhymes with “smirk.”
In their heart of hearts, fans evidently realize that Cousins is a reasonable and talented passer that, given an at-least-average defense, can likely make a deep playoff run that the team so craves.
Otherwise, respondents would have pounded the ‘Trade Up for QB’ button on the poll. The Chiefs did it three years ago. Has to work, right?
Trade-for-Veteran Fervor Undetermined
Now, the 6.9% desire in trading up for quarterback does not entirely afford Cousins a mandate. Some Vikings loyalists would love to be rid of him in a trade package to the Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, or Los Angeles Rams. Then, the Vikings would theoretically have ample draft capital and maybe a quarterback like Deshaun Watson, Jimmy Garoppolo, or Jared Goff to rally behind. But this strategy is predicated on the notion that general manager Rick Spielman wants to be done with Cousins – the guy he personally plucked to be a solution. It could happen, but it is unlikely.
The takeaway here is that 93% so-called approval rating is indeed a bit high. Some folks would rather trade Cousins for a new future via veteran quarterback. Truth be told – if Watson was available to the Vikings, the front office would be astoundingly foolish not to listen. Watson is the fourth-best quarterback in the business statistically, is 25 years old, and the league is his oyster. Most rational football minds would surrender oodles of assets to land a franchise quarterback such as Watson for the next 10-15 years.
Maybe the Minority Simply Screams the Loudest
Why is that 6.9% so low? Probably because those that despise Cousins squeal from mountain tops. That is how it works when ordinary people have a platform that largely holds them unaccountable. Typing resentments onto a keyboard pales in comparison to presenting grievances in-person or in a constructive manner. Anybody with a Twitter account can decry Cousins’ shortfalls due to anonymity. Kirk will not come to your home and confront you.
Choosing to trade draft capital in hopes that the Vikings hit gold on a rookie quarterback is undoubtedly exciting – but it is risky. The Chicago Bears did it with Mitchell Trubisky – now look at the Bears. Each offseason, the Bears vacillate on “is Trubisky good or is he not?” And that is a fair conversation. Trubisky’s statistics affirm that he is not very skilled. Yet, the allure of anticipative maturation keeps Bears faithful coming back for more.
In Cousins, the fanbase is assured they are getting about 4,000 passing yards and 30 touchdowns per season – like clockwork. Trubisky doesn’t do that. Most quarterbacks do not consistently do that no matter what the eye-test implies.
The Cousins naysayers will continue to howl. It’s First Amendment stuff. Just know, though, that the negative sentiment that surrounds him is overblown.