The Kyle Rudolph Interview: Refusing a Pay Cut, Blaming the Offense, and a Drunk Kirk Cousins

Much has been made of the recent Kyle Rudolph interview with Ben Leber, and for good reason. Leber does an excellent job. For the most part, the focus has been on Rudolph’s refusal to take a pay cut. Some overlooked components of the interview, though, rest in how Rudolph explicitly puts a lot of the blame for the season’s failure on the offense. There is also some pretty interesting talk about Kirk Cousins and celebrating a Super Bowl.

Refusing a Pay Cut

The focus among football writers has been on Rudolph’s comments about his contract. He said he understood Spielman’s side of things, but then goes on to express his confidence in his own ability: “With that being said, I think I’m worth every dime of my contract. That doesn’t mean that I’m used to my potential and I’m used to do what I do well, so it will be interesting over the next few months. Like I said, I have three years left on my contract. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I’ve somehow become a pretty decent blocker because I’ve been forced to. It certainly wasn’t something that I ever did well at any point of my career. Maybe in high school because I was bigger than everyone else, but even then, I just wanted to run around and catch balls.”

At this point, every Vikings and NFL fan should respect Rudolph’s opinion. Even still, I disagree; I don’t think he is worth the contract. Be that as it may, Rudolph is a great pro and all-time great Vikings TE. He thinks he still has a ton of great football left in him “when given the opportunity.” He knows far, far more about football than I do, so I respect his opinion.

Around the 1:08 mark, Rudolph steers the conversation toward his usage in the offense in relation to his continued desire to win the Super Bowl: “That’s the only reason I’m here. Personally, it’s not because of the way I’m used, obviously it’s not a lot, I just block every play, pretty much. I think I’m more than capable as a pass catcher, and I don’t get to do it anymore, quite honestly.” That’s a pretty candid response from Rudolph.

Blaming the Offense

Rudolph was frank when he reflected on how the offense didn’t help the young defense: “Man, we really did our team a disservice.” This disservice, Rudolph explains, primarily took place in the season’s opening six weeks. Quite often, the defense had to defend a short field, and that obviously puts them in a difficult position.

He brought the season back down to the Seattle game. Rudolph credits Zimmer’s decision to go for it on 4th and 1, saying his coach rightly put the onus on his veteran, star players on offense. That win would have put Minnesota in the playoffs.

Rudolph goes on to be complementary of Gary Kubiak, explaining that he did a nice job of being relatable even though he is a fair bit older than the players. Rudolph also spoke about the difficulty of having another new OC, drawing particular attention to Kirk Cousins since it’s the QB with a new voice in the helmet.

About 53 minutes into the interview, Rudolph spoke about the offense’s creativity. He placed the emphasis on continuing to possess the football and score, praising the coaching staff’s ability to expand the running game. He refers to the system as “tried and true” before suggesting that Lafleur, McVay, and Shanahan have added some nuances and layers of complexity to their system. Therein lies the key: it isn’t like Rudolph just completely trashes the offense. Instead, Rudolph departs from the stock, standard answers in a manner that helps clarify his actual opinion on the subject. Kyle Rudolph does this throughout the interview.

A Drunk Kirk Cousins

Both Rudolph and Leber discussed their strong desire to see the Vikings win a Super Bowl.

A large part of the motivation rested in Kirk Cousins being able to prove doubters wrong. Rudolph believes that his QB gets so much criticism because of his huge contract and modest win/loss ratio. He went on to say that there are probably only three QBs on the planet who can succeed in spite of their team, suggesting that Cousins isn’t one of those QBs. Nevertheless, Rudolph talked about Cousins demanding respect from the league by winning the Super Bowl.

It’s this desire for respect that contributed to both Rudolph and Leber agreeing that it would be awesome to see Cousins at the parade. Part of the reason why Cousins rubs people the wrong way, they speculated, is that Cousins was just himself. He is a fairly conservative and too calm. It’s hard to disagree; why do you think people always repeat the “you like that!?!?” moment?

What would happen if they actually won and they had a SB parade? Perhaps Cousins would finally let loose. Rudolph and Leber agreed that they’d love to see him drunk and as wild as Jason and Travis Kelce at their parades. Leber asked if he would “chug a beer,” but Rudolph quickly retorts that Cousins would probably just be there in a “north face jacket.”

Leber goes on to say that he really wants to see a “glassy-eyed Kirk” giving a speech. Most fans probably agree.

Conclusion

Kyle Rudolph offered some engaging insight and candor in his interview. Interested fans should hop over to KFAN and give it a full listen. In case my brief few words didn’t give the indication, Rudolph offers a ton of great insight. You’ll get some discussion of massive hands, being efficient with the targets, whether Klint Kubiak has the personality to be a good OC, and several other topics.