In a careful answer, new Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell says he expects Kirk Cousins to be his quarterback in 2022.
Kirk Cousins has one year left on his contract. And it seems he’ll be spending it with the team which signed him to it.
On Thursday, Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was introduced to the local media and had this to say about his quarterback’s situation. Per Courtney Cronin of ESPN:
“Well, I know he’s under contract and I’m excited to coach him. We’ve already started thinking about how we’re going to build those systems for him and our other quarterbacks and really the tremendous skill group that we have, our guys up front. It takes all 11 to move the football on offense, to run it, to throw it, to score points in the red zone. But I’m anticipating Kirk being a part of what we do.”
While that quote stops short of guaranteeing Cousins will be part of the picture come training camp, it seems the most-likely scenario.
Cousins, 33, has played the last four years with the Minnesota Vikings, earning one trip to the postseason. Despite talent including receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, and running back Dalvin Cook, Minnesota has sputtered in recent campaigns, only winning nine or more games once.
However, blaming Cousins for all the Vikings’ problems is a lazy narrative. In 2018, the signal-caller threw for 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns. In ’19, he led Minnesota to the NFC Divisional round, launching 26 touchdowns against only six interceptions.
In 2020, Cousins went for 4,265 yards and 35 touchdown passes, before this year completing 66.3 percent of his attempts for 4,221 yards and 33 touchdowns across 16 games. Not a horrid stat line in any of those four seasons.
For Minnesota, there’s an opportunity to make a move this season. The NFC is the weakest it has been in some time. Tom Brady has retired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and we could soon see Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers and/or Russell Wilson traded, perhaps with a few headed out of the conference.
While the Vikings have their issues in multiple spots on the roster — the offensive line and cornerback among them — there’s a real belief they should compete for a playoff spot with some additional upside. If O’Connell can get the best from Cousins and the cast around him, that’s the best-case scenario for the veteran under center and the first-year head coach.