Minnesota Vikings News Roundup: Kirk Cousins Seeks Improvement

Minnesota Vikings fans are mostly divided in their perspective on Kirk Cousins. There is something we can’t disagree on, though: the dude puts in work like a franchise quarterback. When you sign a QB to a massive contract – as Minnesota did with ol’Kirk (twice!) – the expectation is that he is going to devote himself to his craft, that he’ll put in an unbelievable amount of work. No one can really dispute that Kirk does this, so we begin with how he is working toward improving. After that, we talk a little about Zimmer’s ability as a play caller and then finish off with TVG content and wider purple chatter.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings Franchise QB

Apparently, Cousins has never spent the time to study the film of his entire career. That changed this offseason.

“I wanted to go back and really just study, create cut-ups and really build up some volume that I can pull from as we go forward.” He goes on to note that he wishes he did this earlier: “I regret I hadn’t done it earlier in my career but I did get the film set up in my house to basically have access to all of that … so that all offseason — even if I’m not in the facility — I’d have access to tape.”

One thing he took away was realizing the need to ensure he’s taking into account who he’s throwing to. Indeed, the film study crystallized how important it was to be continually aware of who was on the field with him: “So just the process of learning those players and saying, ‘OK,’ and understanding that you always have to be aware of what your teammates do well and try to put them in those positions to be successful.”

It probably seems obvious, but it’s a good point to remember. On paper, a ten-yard out is always the same. The timing between an Adam Thielen and a Justin Jefferson out, though, may be just slightly different. The QB needs to know the difference and adjust accordingly.

I’m in favor of anything that may help our QB, but my fear is that this may end up working against him. Sometimes, Cousins is his own worst enemy. He can overthink things; all his intelligence and hard work end up going against him. Over these past three seasons, I’ve experienced various moments where I felt like Cousins needed to think less and just play. My concern is that this focused study may contribute to this trend.

Nevertheless, it’s good to hear that Cousins found some productive ways to use his time during the pandemic. Hopefully it’s all positive going forward.

Is Zim a Good Play Caller?

No one should really doubt Zim’s ability as a defensive mastermind.

PFF – already in Zim’s doghouse – didn’t list him in their article for top defensive play callers. They only rank six DCs, but it’s still somewhat surprising to see Zim left off. Readers may be surprised to see who gets that final spot on the list: former Minnesota HC Leslie Frazier.

When he left town, it appeared as though his defense was antiquated. Zim stepped in and quickly turned the unit into one of the best of the NFL, further solidifying the notion that Frazier simply wasn’t a good defensive coach. These past two years in Buffalo, though, reveal that Frazier still has it: “After struggling some in Minnesota and Tampa Bay, Frazier has put together two great seasons in a row in Buffalo, all without the benefit of a top-20 player in the front seven and with a revolving door of players at the second outside cornerback spot.” I’ve previously outlined my respect for Frazier, so it’s good to see him get recognition. I hope he gets another shot as a HC.

That being said, let’s get back to the main point: is Zim really outside the NFL’s top-6 defensive play callers? Reasonable minds could disagree. I’ll merely defer to Weekly Spiral‘s really excellent analysis of Minnesota’s blitz scheme in 2020.

TVG and Broader Purple Chatter

A few different things went up on TVG this week. There was an article about the Danielle Hunter situation, how Patrick Peterson may bounce back, and how Anthony Barr ought to be very motivated this season. We responded to the CBS list of top 100 players, the one that inexplicably left Eric Kendricks off. We even had a really great interview about the Lions with Jeremy Reisman of Pride of Detroit.

It’s been a busy week over here in TVG land, so my Vikings intake was considerably more limited than usual. I’ll merely recommend Arif Hasan’s recent Athletic article about OTAs. Otherwise, I offer my apologies for slacking on the broader purple chatter!

The Send Off

Reader, know that you are appreciated. Thanks for taking time out of your day for this news roundup. It means a lot to us over here at TVG.

If Minnesota is to succeed in the 2021 season, a lot will need to go right. Hopefully, there won’t be any issues with Minnesota’s defensive play caller or QB.