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This is just meant as a question. It’s not meant to be acidic or nasty. Just a question…
The statistics from Cousins’ game against the Saints will look respectable in retrospect. He was 31-of-41 for 359 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The numbers were roughly in line with what his numbers looked like his last few years in Washington.
But so was the result. In what should have been a marquee game between two of the NFC’s best, the Saints, playing on the road, won fairly easily. The final score was 30-20, but that last touchdown for Cousins and the Vikings came when the game was essentially out of hand.
For most of the game, Cousins looked out of his element. And this shouldn’t be the case. He was going against the Saints defense. Swiss cheese looks at the Saints defense and says, “What’s up, Twin?”
Cousins is paid the kind of money he’s paid for moments like these. To stare down Drew Brees. To win a big game at home. To transform the season.
Instead, the best you can say is the Vikings aren’t in bad shape. They’re 4-3-1 and in a division in which no one’s running away. And like his team, Cousins hasn’t played poorly but hasn’t been great.
But you pay $84 million for great.
He’s had moments of greatness. A few, at least. But just moments. Fleeting, not transformative.
In many ways, he’s the same Cousins we saw in Washington—and frankly that’s shocking to say, because I thought we’d see a different Cousins. With all the weapons available to him in Minnesota—Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs—I thought we’d see him explode this season.
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Instead, the numbers are about the same as usual—a bit more efficient but averaging a bit less per throw. And the results are about the same as usual—right around .500. Washington, which is 5-2 this season with Alex Smith at QB, was 24-23-1 in Cousins’ last three years there. The Vikings, who were 13-3 last year with Case Keenum and others, are 4-3-1 this year with Cousins.
There’s always going to be more context for that type of comparison. There is for everything.
When Cousins was pick-sixed by the Saints on Sunday, maybe you could blame his receiver for stopping his route short. But that ball should have never been thrown. It was the kind of throw you don’t see Aaron Rodgers make, because Aaron Rodgers is careful with the football. Cousins often isn’t. He also took sacks he didn’t need to take Sunday. He panicked in the pocket. He had a weird, non-slide run in which one of the Saints players almost stole the football right out of his hands (but Cousins’ knee was down).
He made some good throws. As he always does. He made plenty of bad ones. As he always does.
Somehow it all ends up even, and that’s what the Vikings look like they have.
An average, super-duper-expensive quarterback who wasn’t worth the cash. One of the most the marvelously mediocre, stupendously average, remarkably decent quarterbacks in recent football memory. The QB who won’t blow your socks off—but they will sort of fall off, maybe. Or they might need a push or two. And then you’ll look at those socks and think: Why was I wearing them again?
Cousins is astonishingly meh. He’s Olive Garden.
And we probably should have known that. But keep something important in mind: The Vikings thought Cousins was the final piece of their juggernaut.
This roster went to the conference title game last year. Yes, they got there on one of the greatest fluke plays of all time, but they got there.
They were stacked. And are. But they’re not better. At least not so far. In fact, they don’t look as good. They’ve gotten worse.
Brees, on the other side Sunday, threw for just 120 yards. If there was ever a game for Cousins to stand out, this was it.
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Look around the league, and you’ll see remarkable quarterback play. Aaron Rodgers is playing well and keeping the Packers in the race on three-quarters of a leg. Jared Goff is already miles beyond Cousins in terms of leading a winner. So is Patrick Mahomes. Cam Newton is as well. Philip Rivers is carrying the Chargers, Russell Wilson the Seahawks. Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson are re-emerging after injuries. Tom Brady is Tom Brady.
Cousins was supposed to be a part of this group this season. Instead, he is so average he sweats margarine.
So let’s ask that question again.
Is Cousins showing he’s worth $28 million a year? That he’s worth $84 million in guaranteed cash?
The answer is obvious.