The Vikings are Banking On Kirk Cousins Having More Swagger

Earlier this offseason, Justin Jefferson made a dumb comment about his QB: “[Kirk Cousins and Joe Burrow are] not the strongest arms, but they’re going to get it to you exactly where you need them to throw it. The thing about Joe that’s a little bit different — I feel like Joe has a little bit more swagger. He has that confidence on the field, he’s not scared to get hit. I feel like as a quarterback, that’s a big trait to have, especially to be as young as he is. He’s a phenomenal quarterback.” Kirk Cousins’ swagger – or lack thereof – has been a relatively consistent point of discussion during his NFL career. Even still, it was surprising to see his own teammate saying he didn’t have as much swagger as a rookie QB.

Alas, Jefferson is only 22. Who among us hasn’t made at least a few dumb comments in their early 20s? I’ve made more than my fair share (one day I hope to avoid being a complete idiot on a consistent basis).

Earlier this week, Irv Smith Jr. (a major breakout candidate and the leader for Minnesota’s promising tight ends) also made some comments about the Vikings’ franchise QB, explaining that he thinks Kirk Cousins has more swagger: “He’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. He’s got a lot more swagger this year, for sure, and I’m very excited. It’s going to be fun.” Perhaps it’s merely a coincidence, but the first thing I thought of when reading Smith’s words was Jefferson’s earlier comment in the offseason.

I’ll readily admit that this seems somewhat trivial. Cousins – who has played in the NFL for 9 seasons, accumulating more than $140 million during that time (he’ll get $31 million this season, $45 million next season) – shouldn’t be overly concerned about these small comments. One gets the impression, though, that Cousins does pay attention to these things (in spite of his consistent claims to the contrary). You don’t yell “you like that!?!?!” at reporters unless you’ve spent some time reading the criticism about you.

In the past, we’ve referred to all of this talk about swagger as the elusive it-factor. For the Vikings to succeed, Kirk Cousins will need to do a better job of demonstrating this swagger/it-factor on Sundays. In fact, Mike Zimmer identified this precise idea last offseason when asked about areas where Cousins could improve: “when we get to the end of ball games, go win. That’s what everyone wants out of a quarterback is to go win games in the fourth quarter.”

Preach it, coach.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter very much if Cousins looks great in practice. We need to see it on the field. Moreover, we need to see it at critical times on the field.

You’d have a hard time convincing me that Cousins isn’t a sensitive soul. He hears the criticism and cares about it. The only way he can end all the doubt is to win big games, and to do so on a consistent basis. I, for one, would be thrilled to see Cousins definitively silence all of his critics.

It’s time for the Vikings to finally find success with Cousins as their QB.