Minnesota’s Monolith: Kirk Cousins

Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve spent any amount of time doing something other than eating leftover turkey sandwiches and scouting the best Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Tuesday/Whatever-Day deals the past week, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the monoliths.

And if you haven’t been captivated, intrigued by, or even been made vaguely aware of the monolith craze currently gripping our fragile planet, permit me to give you the CliffsNotes version so that you’re more in-the-know and hip. Because if I don’t explain it, the rest of the words on this page might not make sense. Actually, they might not anyway, but with the monolith information as background, you’ll at least have a fighting chance of deciphering my ramblings. And yes, this has to do with the Vikings (as the headline of the article implies). We’ll get there.

But first, the monoliths…

The initial one mysteriously appeared in the Utah desert shortly before Thanksgiving.

It was subsequently removed or vanished or flew away or something. Then another one (or was it the same one?) appeared in Romania a week later.

And then this week, one popped up on a mountain in California.

The appearances have inspired numerous theories as to the origin, purpose and meaning of these shiny structures. Are they merely a strange coincidence? A peculiar promotional stunt for an upcoming sci-fi movie, U2 album, PS5 game or some other project? A dumb prank brought to you by the same folks who used to specialize in crop circles? A phenomenon from another dimension? Or are they, as many believe, part of the world-wide ongoing alien disclosure? Nobody knows for sure yet, but these darn things have our attention and, short of a mothership full of alien greys landing in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the ultimate answer is bound to leave us all a little disappointed.

Now, what if I told you Minnesota has its own monolith?

And, no, I’m not talking about this one that some imbecile posted a photo of on Twitter this week:

I’m referring to the one that plays quarterback for your Minnesota Vikings.

That’s right, Kirk Cousins is, in a very real sense, Minnesota’s Monolith.

Hold on, fam! Before you pound the back arrow on your browser and demand the Zone Coverage staff (specifically, Bo) be “randomly” drug tested for substances of abuse, hear me out. You’ve come this far. Stick with me.

This is not to suggest that Cousins is actually a metallic obelisk or geological feature jutting from the earth’s surface, though some may argue that these objects possess similar pocket awareness and ball security capabilities as the Vikings’ signal-caller. What? Too soon? Instead, what is being suggested herein is more of a simile than a metaphor. Cousins isn’t truly a monolith. Don’t be silly. Rather, he’s like a monolith to the extent that he has a similar effect on those who observe him and consider his meaning. It depends on your vantage point and can change from one week to the next, just as the monolith can appear on a mountaintop one week or in the middle of nowhere a half-world away the next.

The inconsistent Cousins is every bit as capable of being near or at the top of his profession one week and looking totally lost the next – a clown in the two-minute offense one week and a surgeon the next. Heck, it can change from one quarter to the next. The definition of Cousins, what he is and what he’s worth, also depends on your perspective. Following the Dallas Cowboys game, there was a renewed call for him to be benched or exiled to the wilderness of Romania or something. And now he’s the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week following his masterful performance in the win against the Carolina Panthers.

Two football fans can examine Cousins on the same day in the same environment and draw two vastly different conclusions. One might view him as a grossly overpaid, salary-cap killing waste who will never lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl. Another can look at Cousins and see something akin to what the player evaluators at Pro Football Focus see right now as we sit here in Week 13 of this crazy season – the fifth-highest rated quarterback in the NFL.

A stats analyst might note that Cousins, once again, ranks among the 10-best quarterbacks in the NFL in terms of passer rating and ranks second only to Deshaun Watson in Yards Per Attempt (8.7).

A football coach may see him as a quarterback with an elite level of touch and accuracy, a leader of men and an upstanding member of the community off the field.

A former player might look at him and say he doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done in the clutch or in the big games. He has no feel for pressure in the pocket and needs really good protection to be great.

We each bring our own biases and perceptions to bear when it comes to viewing Cousins… just as we do those wacky monoliths. The truth is that Cousins has been and will likely continue to be all these things. It comes with the territory given the money he makes and the position he plays in the most-watched American sport.

Does he have value? Absolutely. Take a look around at some of the guys playing quarterback in today’s NFL. It’s not an easy job, and there aren’t many athletes in the world capable of being even remotely serviceable at executing the position at the highest level. Just ask the Denver Broncos. Cousins is currently one of the 10 or 20 best at what he does in the world depending on the week. That has value regardless of profession. But how much value? And is he worth all the fuss and all that money, or is he more of a shiny object that grabs people’s attention, generates debate and might not deliver the return on investment when all is said and done? That’s the question.

Hopefully, we’ll eventually find out the answer, one way or another. Until then, we’ll just keep tweeting about, criticizing, praising and analyzing the monoliths wherever they may be… including the one that plays quarterback for the Vikings.

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