Are We Finally Seeing Kirk Cousins Play Freely This Season?

Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve long been critical of Kirk Cousins, but he showed up in a big way on opening weekend. He looked loose and stepped up in the pocket more aggressively than in years past. It was a Cousins I had never seen, and we have Kevin O’Connell to thank. But will he keep it up?

The Minnesota Vikings face a whole new challenge in Week 2. PFF ranked the Philadelphia Eagles as a top-10 pass rush in Week 1, and they have some mean players on that front seven.

Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Josh Sweat are all established veterans familiar with wreaking havoc in both the pass and the run game. Then you have the rookie Jordan Davis, a beast on the field. He might be young, but he earned a spot in their rotation.

I’d be worried if this were last year’s team, but there’s already been a shift this season. Cousins was one cool customer who did things he’s never done before. He’s also getting more help than he ever has – just look at this insane stat:

Shockingly, this is the case, but it adds a new side to the story of Cousins’ career. Even Mike Zimmer’s elite defenses couldn’t help him more than the average unit.

On top of that, Cousins is in a new mindset. On the field, he looked excellent, stepping up in the pocket and avoiding pressure. The play below is exactly what I have wanted to see from him for several reasons.

First, he feels the pressure behind and to the right of him and completes a pass (not the prettiest, mind you) in one smooth motion. Secondly, he is finally using his feet.

“I think there was a few times where I could have taken off and run,” Cousins said in his post-game presser.


He not only looked more confident, but he also sounded like it too. And boy, did he look good in his buttoned-up collared shirt. For the first time in years, I’m confident in Cousins, and it’s because he seems more assured than ever.

In the past, he sounded reluctant to contest Zimmer’s philosophy in any way in these press conferences. It’s only been one week, but I might already be sold on this new Kirk Cousins, which is especially surprising since I haven’t previously been a big fan of his.

There could be cause for concern, though. Justin Jefferson said in the preseason that O’Connell has a “laid-back” coaching style. I wrote about it last week and won’t get too deep into it here, but basically, I’m worried they won’t be able to overcome adversity.

In some ways, it stems from being a young-ish team and having a young head coach. Sure, when you’re winning, everything goes smoothly. But if they start losing or breaking down in some aspects of the game, will they be able to overcome in Year 1 of a new front office?

If Week 1 is any indicator, then yes. They played more disciplined and aggressively than Zimmer could have ever dreamed (or nightmared, in his case). I look forward to seeing what works and what doesn’t with this team. There’s been nothing but green flags so far, and it’s in part thanks to Cousins.

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Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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