What ‘Quarterback’ tells us about Kirk Cousins’ future with the Vikings

EAGAN, Minn. — Early in Episode 3 of the Netflix collection “Quarterback,” Kirk Cousins regarded into the digital camera and defined what it actually feels wish to play that place within the NFL.

“There are video games,” he stated, “the place you assume, ‘This must be the worst job alive.’ You are simply standing in there and you’ll’t even brace your self for these hits.”

Amongst different takeaways, “Quarterback” added visceral context to the Minnesota Vikings‘ resolution to not signal Cousins, who’s within the last yr of his contract, to an extension this spring. Watching Cousins get pummeled within the pocket (most notably by hits in Weeks 9 and 10 that precipitated rib ache and bruising) was a reminder of the outsized punishment he has already taken in his skilled profession.

Cousins absorbed an NFL-high 136 hits on passing performs final season on account of a mixture of inconsistent go safety and his intuition to stay within the pocket moderately than scramble. It was hardly an anomaly. Since he grew to become a full-time starter for Washington in 2015, Cousins has taken 781 hits on such performs, greater than any quarterback over that span aside from Russell Wilson and Matt Ryanin keeping with ESPN Stats & Info analysis.

Cousins has been remarkably sturdy throughout that stretch, thanks partly to a body-work routine he detailed throughout “Quarterback,” however he’s neither bionic nor invincible.

The Vikings’ resolution to not prolong Cousins was based mostly on a number of components, together with wage cap issues and the state of the roster as coaching camp opens subsequent week. But, as Cousins approaches his thirty fifth birthday subsequent month, any sober-minded evaluation would think about how the cumulative results of these hits may have an effect on his efficiency and availability over the subsequent few years.

“The important thing for me is not only having the ability to survive a recreation or the hits from a recreation,” Cousins stated in Episode 3. “The problem is [whether] you may come again six days from now and do it once more, and might you do it time and again and once more for a whole season.”

Cousins has missed solely two begins since his 2015 debut as a full-time starter, one because the Vikings rested him for the 2019 playoffs and one other following a COVID-19 analysis in 2021. By all accounts, he’s extremely powerful and well-versed in methods for remaining in a recreation whereas enduring ache.

However one other revelation from “Quarterback” is that Cousins’ efficiency and decision-making typically suffers — fairly understandably — in these conditions.

Within the massive image, Cousins led the Vikings to come-from-behind wins on the highway within the two video games featured in Episode 3, on the Washington Commanders (Week 9) and Buffalo Bills (Week 10). These stirring outcomes, nevertheless, overshadowed a handful of particular person performs that will have loomed bigger had the Vikings misplaced.

Cousins acknowledged that the ache made him “agitated” and that he tends to “block out every little thing else” on these events so he can give attention to his assignments.

In opposition to the Payments, that intuition first manifested in an interception, the place Cousins thought Payments cornerback Dane Jackson was Vikings receiver Justin Jeffersonhe later acknowledged. Then, on an important fourth-down play on the purpose line, Cousins determined to name his personal quantity on a failed quarterback sneak.

Throughout a post-play dialogue, coach Kevin O’Connell informed Cousins that he had been making an attempt to name a timeout. Cousins stated he did not hear him. A chagrined O’Connell informed Cousins that “I may’ve given you a greater formation” if he had recognized Cousins needed to sneak.

None of that is uncommon in NFL quarterback play, and “Quarterback” centered on comparable encounters for co-stars Patrick Mahomes and Marcus Mariota. However their hit totals on passing performs had been nonetheless notably decrease than the 136 Cousins took final season: Mahomes took 90 in 17 begins, whereas Mariota absorbed 67 over 13 video games.

The main target appears related within the dialog of a possible multi-year contract extension. Cousins is a prepared and ready combatant, and he mused in Episode 3 that “a part of me is possibly simply sick and simply likes” getting hit. To this point in his profession, he has been capable of recuperate and/or play by means of the repercussions of the violence he encounters.

However the identical might be stated of the chief producer of “Quarterback,” Peyton Manning, when he was 35. At that time, Manning had made each begin throughout a 13-year tenure with the Indianapolis Colts. However in 2011, a neck harm he traced to a 2006 hit grew to become unmanageable and required a number of surgical procedures. He missed the complete season, prompting the Colts to launch him earlier than he finally joined the Denver Broncos to complete his profession.

None of that is to say that Cousins is headed towards the same expertise. It is merely a reminder that there are limits to the extent of sturdiness that may be achieved by means of laborious work and excessive diligence.

There is a purpose why 85% of the NFL’s projected beginning quarterbacks are youthful than 35. The contributing elements can pile up and intensify over time, affecting efficiency, if not availability, and people elements virtually definitely performed a job within the Vikings’ resolution to let Cousins enter coaching camp within the last yr of his contract.

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Printed : 2023-07-21 11:00:01

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