Cousins, Vikings enter crossroad year

Published 7:10 am Thursday, September 5, 2019

EAGAN  — After signing Kirk Cousins to a fully guaranteed contract last year, the Minnesota Vikings might have given their quarterback even more to work with this time.

This season will surely be a crossroad of sorts for both Cousins and the Vikings, their trajectory toward — or away from — that elusive Super Bowl victory inescapably intertwined.

“I’m pretty much a .500 quarterback in my career so far, and I don’t think that’s where you want to be,” Cousins said this summer, his most pronounced acknowledgement that his debut in purple did not quite pan out as he or the team hoped with an 8-7-1 record that missed the cut for the playoffs.

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On the statistical surface, and by the eye test for stretches of the schedule, Cousins largely excelled. His 70.1 percent completion rate was the 10th-best in NFL history. He topped 4,000 passing yards for the fourth straight year, producing the fourth-highest total in the league during that span. His interception rate of 1.7 percent was the best of his career.

Still, against the last four postseason-bound opponents the Vikings faced, losses to Chicago twice, New England and Seattle, Cousins posted four of his six worst passer ratings of 2018.

When the Vikings lost the finale to the Bears, thus keeping them out of the playoffs, Cousins averaged 4 yards per attempt, his lowest of the year.

The offense had several weaknesses beyond his control, but his performance in the first edition of the $84 million deal wasn’t strong enough to cover them up, either.