EAGAN, Minn. – Kirk Cousins added a new element to his offseason enrichment program.
Instead of doing the usual unboxing at the end of the Minnesota Vikings’ 7-9 in 2020 watching all 16 games to assess his individual performance, the 32-year-old quarterback did something he had never done before. .
“This year I decided to go back and really look at my whole career, to look at a few other offenses to see what they did, or what they did in the year that they had a lot of. success, ”Cousins said. “I think back in the days when I was watching the tape during winter and spring, and even now, when I go home during the summer after next week, I think it is useful now to see what has worked in the past, what I want to do as a staple for myself as I go along, but also where I have improved and where I need to improve.
“That assessment certainly comes from your coaches, day in and day out, but there also has to be an ability to self-assess and say, ‘I like what I’m doing there, keep doing it’ or ‘ It’s not good enough – I want to improve that. ‘”
Cousins has appeared in 109 games since being drafted by Washington in the fourth round in 2012 and started 104, including 47 games since signing with the Vikings in 2018. The sheer volume of game films is something. which he had not had access to until recently. , which allowed him to raise the stakes with his self-scouting.
“I wanted to go back and really just study, create cutups and really build some volume that I can squeeze out as we go along,” he said. “I wish I had done this earlier in my career, but I installed the film in my house to have access to it all so that the whole offseason, even though I am not in the establishment, I have access to the tape. I think it’s a very valuable resource to have and I blame myself for not having made it earlier in my career. It was just a track that hopefully can help me improve this coming year. “
Despite Minnesota’s 1-5 start, the Vikings boasted a top 10 offense throughout the second half of the 2020 season before missing the playoffs. Cousins’ rebound from a Week 7 pass allowed the QB to throw 4,265 yards, 35 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 67.6% of his passes. Minnesota’s offense included a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher (Dalvin Cook) and 1,000-yard receiver (Justin Jefferson) for the eighth time in franchise history and the second consecutive season. .
Asked what he got from his extended film viewing sessions, Cousins quoted a line from the 2011 ESPN documentary “Brady 6,” which recapped Tom Brady’s college career in Michigan and careers and the life of the six quarters taken in front of the future Hall of Famer was selected with the choice n ° 199 in 2000.
“[Brady] was quoted as saying, “I’m watching myself in a movie, and to this day, I still don’t feel so good,” Cousins recalls. “And I really felt that feeling. When he said it, I was in college, but I understood what he meant. And now, coming back and looking at my career, I would do echoed that sentiment. I looked at myself in ’12 and ’13-14 and I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m a better quarterback now. I can’t believe the coaches didn’t just cut me off when I was.’ did that and made this mistake. I can’t believe they were patient with me. Because today, in hindsight, it would be just unacceptable for myself to allow myself to play this way or make that reading or make that throw or that decision. “
One of Cousins’ biggest lessons from looking at his entire catalog of his NFL playing career is to review his years in Washington, where he supplanted Robert Griffin III for the starting position at the end of the 2014 season until 2017.
Being able to revisit his playmaking trends in Washington and how that affected the way Cousins moved on to play with new receivers in Minnesota was an eye-opening moment for the quarterback.
“What is obvious are the players you play with,” Cousins said. “You realize that the way Pierre Garcon mapped out a route or DeSean Jackson mapped out a route, it affects you in the way you play and the way you think, and then you come into a new team and you try to tell Adam Thielen of running a route this way, and he says, ‘No, I’m not doing it that way.’ So just the process of learning from these players and saying ‘OK’ to them and understanding that you always have to be aware of what your teammates are doing well and try to put them in those positions to be successful. “